UNWTO publishes guidelines for governments and businesses in favor of gender equity and women’s empowerment

In view of the negative effects caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, which have accentuated gender inequality and affected economic conditions in the tourism sector, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has launched new guidelines for governments and companies to address the needs of women in the tourism sector.

The project “Guidelines for Gender Mainstreaming in the Public Sector” and the “Gender Equality Strategy for Tourism Enterprises” are intended to produce transformative results by changing norms, cultural values, power structures and the roots of inequality and discrimination.

According to UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili, “these new guidelines will help both governments and businesses leverage the sector as an engine for women’s empowerment as the world opens up again.”

She says tourism has proven to be a true promoter of gender equity, so its benefits must include everyone equally.

The guidelines, recently published by UNWTO, continue the agency’s work on women’s empowerment and add to a growing number of similar initiatives, such as the Women’s Empowerment Principles or the information system on environmental, social and governance issues.

It also adds to the project “Close-up: Women’s Empowerment during the recovery of Covid-19, in which the Dominican Republic was selected along with Costa Rica, Mexico and Jordan.

Within the public sector guidance package, specific tools are provided to support national, regional, local and other tourism institutions, focusing on policies, programs and thematic concerns of the tourism sector.

These tools include recommendations on gender equality and women’s economic empowerment in which it urges work on discrimination and inequalities, norms and power relations that are detrimental.

It recommends that these public institutions work “towards a transformative change”, based on these guidelines that address the incorporation of a gender perspective in tourism.

In the referred incorporation, it proposes: the creation of gender units, the allocation of human and financial resources to support gender mainstreaming efforts in the institution, as well as the implementation of accountability mechanisms for the promotion of gender equality.

Gender equity strategy for tourism enterprises.

The introduction to this UNWTO initiative explains that these guidelines are intended to assist private sector tourism enterprises, regardless of size, to incorporate effective and coherent strategies and programs to achieve gender equality throughout their operations.

The world tourism governing body sees the need for many companies, while working to improve their contributions to gender equity and women’s empowerment, to strengthen gender mainstreaming in their operations.

This strategy cites the Women’s Empowerment Principles which are the leading global agenda for private sector companies to commit to gender equity contained in 7 major principles:

Establish high-level corporate leadership for gender equality; treat all women and men fairly at work; respect and uphold human rights and discrimination.

Principles 3 and 4 propose to ensure the health, safety and welfare of all workers and to promote education, training and professional development for women.

The guidelines issued by UNWTO have been developed with the support of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) and UN Women with the aim of ensuring an inclusive and sustainable recovery from the impact of the pandemic.

Women make up a total of 54%, more than half of all tourism workers globally, according to the Global Report on Women in Tourism – second edition.

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