Gender and tourism

Gender and tourism

Tourism has the potential to contribute to greater gender equality and the empowerment of women, in line with the Third Millennium Development Goal. The majority of people employed in tourism worldwide are women, both in formal and informal jobs. Tourism offers women opportunities for income-generation and entrepreneurship. However, women are concentrated in the lowest paid, lowest skilled sectors of the industry and carry out a large amount of unpaid work in family tourism businesses. Women are not well represented in the highest levels of employment and management of the tourism industry.

As a specialised UN agency in the field of tourism, UNWTO is committed to enhancing the positive impact of tourism development on women’s lives, and, in so doing, contributing to the achievement of the Fifth Sustainable Development Goal – "achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls". In this spirit, UNWTO dedicated World Tourism Day in 2007 to the theme of ‘tourism opens doors for women’, and organised a Forum on Women in Tourism at the 2008 edition of the ITB Berlin tourism fair. Since that year, UNWTO has been working – through its Ethics and Social Responsability Programme - in partnership with UN Women, to bring gender issues to the forefront of the tourism industry, promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment and encouraging member states to mainstream gender issues in their respective tourism policies.

Did you know...?

  • In most regions of the world, women make up the majority of the tourism workforce
  • Women tend to be concentrated in the lowest paid and lowest status jobs in tourism
  • Women perform a large amount of unpaid work in family tourism businesses

Global Report on Women in Tourism, Second Edition

Global report Women TourismFollowing the success of the first Global Report on Women in Tourism in 2010, the second edition explores how the situation for gender equality and women’s empowerment has evolved across the five main thematic areas – Employment, Entrepreneurship, Education, Leadership and Community.

The creation of the “Global Report on Women in Tourism, Second Edition" arose from the joint commitment of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and UN Women, the German Development Agency GIZ, World Bank and Amadeus, with the aim to illustrate the contribution tourism is making towards the UN Sustainable Development Goal 5 - Achieving Gender Equality and Empowering all Women and Girls.

By exploring the five thematic areas, with the use of quantitative data and in-depth case studies, corresponding thematic goals were developed to demonstrate what gender equality and women’s empowerment in tourism would look like. This Second Global Report on Women in Tourism outlines key regional trends, including the findings of in depth analyses of regional case studies in four regions. The report also includes an extensive analysis of four key branches of the tourism sector and a strengthened qualitative dimension, including a literature review, field research, interviews and a rich tapestry of in-depth case studies from across the globe.

Global Report on Women in Tourism

Global Report on Women in Tourism 2010The Global Report on Women in Tourism 2010 - officially launched at ITB Berlin in March 2011 - constituted the first phase of this collaboration. As the first attempt to map women’s active participation in the tourism industry worldwide, the Global Report represents a landmark in the field of tourism and gender, focusing on five main areas: employment, entrepreneurship, leadership, community and education. In the context of responsible tourism and local development, this study confirms that tourism can act as a vehicle for the empowerment of women whilst highlighting the remaining challenges for gender equality in tourism.

At the Report's launch event, UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai noted that: ‘This report highlights the crucial role tourism plays in empowering women politically, socially and economically. But it makes it very clear that more must be done to close the gender gap, in particular ensuring equal pay for men and women for equal work, raising employment quality and ending all discrimination’.

Why Gender and Tourism?


While the world has achieved progress towards gender equality and women’s empowerment under the Millennium Development Goals (including equal access to primary education between girls and boys), women and girls continue to suffer discrimination and violence in every part of the world.

First, national governments and international organizations are committed to gender equality through a series of commitments: the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW); the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, and the Millennium Development Goals, in particular Goal 3. Gender equality and women’s empowerment are fundamental components of just, equitable societies. UNWTO believes that tourism can provide pathways to empowerment, and that the opportunity for tourism to make a difference in this area should be maximized.

Second, due to women’s concentration in the lower status and lower paid jobs in tourism, their potential to contribute fully is currently untapped. Empowering women to participate fully in economic life is essential to building strong economies; creating more stable and just societies; achieving internationally agreed goals for development, sustainability and human rights; and improving the quality of life of women, and consequently, that of communities. For the tourism industry, the impact of greater gender equality and women’s empowerment would be highly beneficial, because diverse and gender equitable organizations perform better.

Women in Tourism Empowerment Programme (WITEP)

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