International Women's Day 2024

Regional Webinar for Africa | Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress

Regional Webinar for Africa | Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress

8th March | Online | Languages: English + French

11h00 - 12h15 (UTC +1 Madrid) | 12h00 - 13h15 (UTC +2) | 13h00 - 14h15 (UTC +3)


In Africa, women make up to 69% of tourism employees. However, alongside these opportunities, women in tourism face not only economic hurdles accelerated by the negative impact of the global recession, regional conflicts, but also environmental challenges, particularly amidst the pressing issues of climate change. Despite their significant representation, women in tourism often find themselves confined to low-paid skill jobs, highlighting the urgent need to address systemic barriers and harness their full potential.

As we approach the UN International Women's Day 2024 on the theme "Invest in Women: Accelerate progress," our forthcoming seminar emerges as a beacon of empowerment, offering a platform for women voices to converge and pathways to progress and materialize, while also addressing the intersectional challenges posed by climate change and environmental degradation. Recognizing the key role of entrepreneurship and capacity-building for women in Africa, the webinar will share success stories and provide opportunities for networking and collaboration. In alignment with the Sustainable Development Goal 5 to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls as well as the UN Tourism Agenda for Africa-Tourism for inclusive Growth, which recognizes  women and youth empowerment as one of its priority areas, the webinar aims to equip participants with actionable insights to drive positive change and advance gender equality in the tourism sector.

To put things into context, it is important to note that tourism is well on track to return to pre-pandemic levels by 2024 with 88%. Within Africa, the region has been among the strongest performers, with 96% of pre-pandemic visitors expected to return. Despite these positive projections, it's essential to recognize and address the unique challenges and opportunities faced by women in the tourism sector in Africa.

Objectives and Expected Results:

In light of this, the seminar's objectives and results will consist of the following: 

  • Knowledge Sharing: Our goal is to deepen participants' understanding by shedding light on the subtleties of opportunities and problems faced by women in Africa's tourism industry. UN Tourism initiatives on gender equality in tourism will be shared and as a result, attendees will understand the need of promoting women's empowerment in order to transform the face of the industry while taking the urgent problem of climate change and environmental degradation into mind;
  • Highlight the work done by the Women in Tourism Leadership Africa Committee lead by the Regional Department for Africa (WITLAC) and encourage future events and training programs of the WITLAC as a result.
  • Entrepreneurship and Capacity Building: Our webinar will provide practical experiences on entrepreneurship and capacity-building to enrich the skills and knowledge of women in tourism, empowering them with tangible tools for success.  
  • Networking Opportunities: In nurturing a conducive environment for connection and collaboration, we seek to foster robust networks among women in tourism.  
  • Policy Advocacy: Engaging conversations on gender-responsive policies and initiatives, our webinar aims to be a catalyst for change. Participants will be equipped with advocacy strategies and actionable steps to champion policy reforms that dismantle barriers and elevate women's participation and leadership in the sector.

Key Takeaways

The key takeaways of the online webinar will include:

  • Increased Awareness: Participants will gain a deeper understanding of the challenges and opportunities faced by women in the tourism sector, leading to heightened awareness and empathy towards gender disparities.
  • Empowerment Through Knowledge Sharing: Attendees will learn from best practices, initiatives, and success stories shared during the seminar, empowering them with practical insights and strategies to advance gender equality in tourism.
  • Expanded Networks and Collaboration: The seminar will provide valuable networking opportunities for women in tourism to connect, collaborate, and build meaningful relationships with women tourism stakeholders.
  • Advocacy for Gender-Responsive Policies: Participants will gain insights into advocacy strategies and actionable steps to promote gender-responsive policies and initiatives within the tourism sector, driving positive change and fostering inclusivity.

Call to Action: Conclude the seminar with a clear call to action, encouraging participants to commit to one specific action they can take to support women in tourism, whether it's advocating for gender-inclusive policies, entrepreneurship opportunities or human capital development.

These practical takeaways ensure that participants leave the seminar with actionable insights and tangible steps they can implement in their professional lives, despite the limited duration of the event.

Related link


Zoritsa Urosevic
Zoritsa Urosevic
Executive Director, UN Tourism

Zoritsa Urosevic joined UN Tourism in 2006 as Executive Secretary of the Business Council. Since 2010, she has led work on positioning tourism in the development cooperation and trade agendas, while strengthening UN Tourism’s institutional framework, leading the inclusion of UN Tourism in the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) list, as recipient organization for Official Development Assistance (ODA). The UN Rio+20 outcome document “The Future We Want” acknowledged for the first time the importance of tourism, and the explicit inclusion of tourism in the Universal 2030 Agenda.

Elcia Grandcourt
Elcia Grandcourt
Regional Director for Africa at UN Tourism

Globally recognised as an authority on global tourism, Elcia Grandcourt – Regional Director for Africa at UN Tourism, the United Nation’s agency for global development and promotion of sustainable tourism – has secured her position within the leadership community for her expertise and advocacy in tourism development, and is celebrated as a champion of tourism development for the benefit of women and youth, in nations seeking strong, united development of their economies and societies. Elcia´s current pivotal role entails working with Ministries of tourism from the Africa region through fostering collaboration and advancing UN Tourism’s mandate alongside the ten core priorities encapsulated in the UN Tourism Agenda for Africa – Tourism for Inclusive Growth, a strategic RoadMap aimed at promoting responsible, inclusive and accessible tourism development in Africa and beyond. A daughter of Africa with roots in the Seychelles, Elcia holds a Master’s in dynamics of Cooperation, Conflicts and Negotiation in International Relations and Diplomacy and formerly occupied the position of CEO of the Seychelles Tourism Board.

Hon. Mrs Nabeela Farida Tunis
Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs of the Republic of Sierra Leone and Chair of the Women in Tourism and Leadership Africa Committee (WITLAC)

Mrs Nabeela Farida Tunis is President Bio’s nominee for Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs in the new SLPP Government.  

Prior to her nomination , Minister Tunis was Regional Minister of Western Region from May 2021 to July 2023. During that two-year stint, Minister Tunis transformed community governance in the region and demonstrated beyond doubt that when ordinary people sit at the heart of development activities, successful outcomes are guaranteed.  

Minister Tunis was also Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation for two years (2019-2021), championing the rebranding of Sierra Leone and restoring international respectability to the country.  

From May 2019 to May 2020, Madam Tunis was Minister of Planning and Economic Development (MoPED). During her tenure, she oversaw the change management process that transitioned the Ministry from an appendage of the Ministry of Finance to a stand-alone Ministry. She additionally served as Chair of the g7+ Group of Fragile and Conflict Affected states and Co-Chaired the International Dialogue on Peacebuilding and State building.  

Minister Tunis also served as Senior National Officer within the United Nations Integrated Office in Sierra Leone and later at the United Nations Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone.  

Minister Tunis was Co-Founder and Program Manager of Women’s Network for Environmental Sustainability (WoNES) and member of the Sport and Environment Commission.  

Minister Tunis holds a Master’s degree in Rural Development and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and English from the University of Sierra Leone.  She has postgraduate certificates in Peacebuilding, Conflict Analysis and Management, Environmental Governance, Gender and Human Rights.


Fatmata Binta
Founder and Chef at Dine on a Mat and Fulani Kitchen Foundation, UN Tourism Ambassador for responsible tourism

Fatmata Binta is the Executive chef at Dine on a Mat, a Nomadic Restaurant and the Founder of Fulani Kitchen Foundation. Chef Binta is a modern-dav nomadic chef connected to the Fulani  culture, customs, and cuisine of the biggest Nomadic group in West and Central Africa. Chef Binta's fine dining experience with traditional Fulani cuisine has translated to her recent awards the 2022 Basque Nobel Culinary World Prize, the most prestigious Award in the culinary world.

In addition, she is the winner of the Best Chef Rising Star, awarded 2021, and was designated as United Nations Ambassador for Responsible Tourism at UN Tourism in 2023. Fulani Kitchen Foundation, founded in 2020. Fulani Kitchen Foundation's work and objective is to improve food security for rural communities, increase productivity through efficient post-harvest processing, and raise the income levels of women.

Her vision for gastronomy is an invitation for guests to step outside of their comfort zone and explore flavor and sustenance through the palettes of Fulani women. It focuses on celebrating the undervalued and underused ingredients in Africa. Chef Binta has traveled to many countries to explore diverse cooking techniques, ingredients and ways of life as well as collaborating with internationally renowned chefs.

Susana Garrido 
Department Officer, Regional Department for Africa, UN Tourism

Susana Garrido is the Program Manager in charge of Digitality, General Education courses, Intraining and Faculty Development. She has taught and continues to teach different courses within the Marketing Pathway. Susana Garrido has an MBA by the San Telmo International Institute in Malaga, as well as a Bachelor’s Degree in Translation and Interpretation by the University of Malaga. She also holds a Postgraduate Diploma in Digital Business and a Masters in Golf and Country Club Management.

She has been teaching in Les Roches Marbella since 2012 and before that she developed her career in hospitality industry both in the US and in Spain. Her last role before joining Les Roches was as the Hotel Manager and Spa Manager at a 5-star Golf Resort Property in Southern Spain.

Ben Owen
Project Manager, Centre Stage Project, Ethics Culture and Social Responsibility Department, UN Tourism

Ben is a senior project specialist responsible for gender equality initiatives in UN Tourism’s Ethics Culture and Social Responsibility department. Ben coordinated the Global Report on Women in Tourism, Second Edition and is currently the project manager of the Centre Stage programme. Ben has extensive experience working on equality projects and initiatives affecting a range of disadvantaged groups. Before joining UN Tourism, Ben worked at the European Parliament on the Transport and Tourism Committee and the Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee. Ben has a BA Hons in International Relations from the University of Leeds.


Lydia Bebekum
Lydia Bebekum
Department Officer, Regional Department for Africa, UN Tourism

Dynamic and dedicated, Mrs Lydia Bebe Kum brings a wealth of experience to her role as an Officer at  UN Tourism. Over her illustrious 22-year career, Lydia has been providing expertise to sustainable tourism projects across Africa, championing women’s empowerment, promoting economic growth, environmental preservation, and creative approaches in addition to travel facilitation. Prior to her tenure at UN Tourism, she gained valuable experience navigating the complexities of international relations and the travel sector. Mrs Lydia holds a master’s degree in political sciences from the Freie Universität Berlin along with a postgraduate certificate in project management, from the University of Manchester.