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Sustainable Tourism’s Support of Gender Equality

Updated: Dec 17, 2019

Gender Equality is a key part of economic development and sustainable tourism can play an important role in fostering equitable rights for girls and women worldwide. In our previous blog post, we introduced the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDG), which Global Family Travels supports through many of our Learn, Serve, and Immerse trips. We highlighted the important role of education (goal # 4) and some of the schools we work with. While many of these schools cater to both genders, on a global scale women and girls continue to fight an uphill battle against gender inequality. We believe it is important to promote sustainable tourism in support of gender equality and women's empowerment (UNSDG #5), as it is an important factor in community development.

Ecuadorian School girls by Lisa Merrill

Gender Equality (UNSDG #5) and Why it Matters

In the book, Half the Sky, Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, New York Times columnists, brilliantly argue for investing in the health and autonomy of women worldwide. Far from merely making moral appeals, the authors postulate that it is impossible for countries to climb out of poverty if only a fraction of women (9% in Pakistan, for example) participate in the labor force. China's dramatic growth in the global economy was due to women's economic empowerment: 80% of the factory workers in the Guangdong province are female; six of the 10 richest self-made women in the world are Chinese. (Half the Sky).

The power of educating girls has a huge impact on all of society, particularly in underdeveloped countries where 31 million girls of primary school age are not enrolled in school. The positive impact of girls’ education has been shown to transcend generations, resulting in better health outcomes among women, their children, and eventually their grandchildren. For example, girls who receive an education marry later, have fewer children, and are more likely to seek healthcare for themselves and their children. To learn more, we share this 2013 UNESCO report which reveals some important facts about the educating girls, which we have also highlighted below.

If girls stayed in school beyond grade 7, they would be:

  • More likely to marry 4 years later

  • Less likely to die in pregnancy/childbirth

  • More likely to have an average of 2.2 fewer children

  • More likely to have healthier children

  • More likely to send their children to school

Immersive Trips in support of Gender Equality

Embracing these statistics above, we highlight the good work of one of our partners, the Kiran Anjali Project (KAP), a nonprofit that provides financial support to charities in India that help educate some of the country’s poorest children with a focus on educating underserved girls. On our recent KAP donor trip to India, travelers had an opportunity to learn first-hand how equal access to education has been live-changing for many girls. Read about one traveler’s insights here: Finding Friendship in India with the Kiran Anjali Project, as well as a link to some compelling videos featuring some of KAP’s projects at Baale Mane, the Carnation Pre-school and the Wings School for Girls.

Our Peru: Learn, Serve, Immerse trip offers similar opportunities to support women's empowerment and gender equality, through our service project facilitated by Awamaki. This non-profit organization’s mission is to give rural Andean women a skills-based education, and to connect them to the global marketplace, using tourism as a powerful force for community development. On this trip, travelers visit indigenous villages where Awamaki’s artisan partners demonstrate their crafts and their way of life. Tourism gives the women a way to access the cash economy, and allows them to earn money and invest in their children and in their homes. They buy food and pay school fees, or put on a new roof or floor.

“One of the most powerful effects of tourism in the community is how the women have taken leadership," says Executive Director of Awamaki, Kennedy Leavens. "They elected one of the women to be a tourism leader who is responsible for coordinating the tours and the homestays, and communicating to the group who needs to show up on what day. Initially, they wanted the men to organize the tourism, or Awamaki staff, but we told them we could only bring in tourists if they took the responsibility. Now, the women are managing it all themselves, and earning all the money too! This year we are training them to receive tourists and give a tour when the tourists are not accompanied by a guide from Awamaki. This will enable them to earn a sustainable income in the future and not be dependent on any one NGO or client to bring them tourists." (Leavens)

“Women and girls represent half of the world’s population and therefore also half of its potential,” (UWTO) but this potential can only be achieved with quality resources and equal opportunities. Gender equality is not only a fundamental human right, but is a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world.

If empowering women and girls resonates with you and your family, Global Family Travels provides a range of tours through which you can play a part in making a positive impact in our global community!

Photo Info and Credits:

Ecuadorian School Children: Lisa Merrill of Merrill images and Trip Leader and Photo Guide of our Ecuador: Photography and Cultural Tour.

African School House supported by Karatu Education Fund.

Girls at Baale Mane by Kiran Anjali Project

Awamaki artisan assisting visiting tourist.


Half the Sky, Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn

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