First regional conference on the empowerment of women in tourism

the UNWTO Regional Conference on Empowering Women in Tourism in Asia and the Pacific – the first event on the subject organized by UNWTO jointly with the Malaysian Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture – brought together more than 500 key virtual participants in addition to 100 local stakeholders in person. Alongside UNWTO experts, government decision-makers, representatives of UN Women, high-level representatives of women’s associations and NGOs joined leading academics to address some of the key challenges and opportunities for women in tourism in the region.

In Asia and the Pacific, women represent 53% of the tourism workforce. However, they remain concentrated in the lowest paid positions and have dozens of poorer working conditions. As in other parts of the world, high-level and leadership positions seem to be the exclusive preserve of men. The objective of this conference was to contribute to international efforts aimed at achieving Sustainable Development Goal 5 (SDG5) on gender equality and the empowerment of women, especially in light of how the pandemic has worsened the socio-economic situation of the female tourism workforce in the region.

In his welcoming and opening remarks, HE Dato ‘Sri Nancy Shukri, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture of Malaysia reinforced this main objective of the conference and stated “As part of efforts to promote a more inclusive recovery of the tourism sector, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals and in particular SDG 5 on gender equality, I believe this conference will provide us with in-depth information on strategies and future prospects for women. in tourism in the Asia-Pacific region.

Discussions at the conference focused on the six thematic pillars of the UNWTO Action Plan on Women in Tourism. These include employment and leadership of women; entrepreneurship; education and training in the realities of post-COVID19 tourism; and data and statistics for an inclusive recovery. Based on these thematic areas, the conference explored how the immense potential of tourism to advance women’s economic empowerment can be further enhanced through the implementation of the right policies and recovery strategies.

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About the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is the United Nations specialized agency that promotes tourism as a vehicle for equal, inclusive and sustainable development. In collaboration with its Member States, international organizations and the private sector, UNWTO promotes safe and smooth travel for all. UNWTO is also working to make tourism the foundation of international trust and cooperation and a central pillar of recovery. As a member of the broader United Nations system, UNWTO is at the forefront of global efforts to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including through its ability to create decent jobs, promote equality and preserve natural and cultural heritage.

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Mara R. Wilmoth