Background on Gender and Tourism

Why 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.


Promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment in tourism matters for two reasons:

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.

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