LILONGWE, Malawi – Across southern Africa, women live side by side natural and cultural tourism resources, yet many remain poor and side-lined.
While attending the recent 2nd Annual Southern Africa Women in Tourism (SAWIT) Conference organized by the Regional Tourism Organization of Southern Africa (RETOSA), the underlining message was that there is urgency for women tourism practitioners to actively support one another in business as much as they do in society.
“The most remarkable men and women in history are those who are prepared to stand out of the crowd, despite all the challenges they face and never stop believing in their dream”, said Dr Malwela Dimakatso, Chairperson of the Southern Africa Women in Tourism Steering Committee.
The proverb ‘build a woman and you have built a nation’ was reverberated by RETOSA’s Acting Executive Director, Simba Mandinyenya. He said that “Women are in the business of re-investing their income and or assets into the lives of their children and their communities – subsequently reducing poverty”.
Most speakers that graced this event such as Honorable Jappie Mhango, Minister of Information Tourism and Civic Education, Malawi and GIZ Malawi Institutional Expert, Victor Mponda-Banda among others impressed on the backwardness of undermining women in any given socio-economic setup.
“I urge you to carry on undertaking the amazing programs and projects for the upliftment of our women in tourism, so that we can continue to position our region as a destination of choice”, said Honorable Thokozile Xasa, Deputy Minister of the Department of Tourism South Africa when given the floor to inspire the delegation. Giving an example of South Africa, Honorable Xasa said that women are stepping up to own and run businesses at a very rapid pace. Even though women-owned businesses exist in small numbers, a focus on their enterprises has been established in the tourism sector. “Our governments now look to entrepreneurship as a critical driver of growth and job creation in Southern Africa”, she emphasized. The Deputy Minister further encouraged women to rid themselves of the obsolete mentality of the marginalized, urging them to stand up and take advantage of the opportunities that are available to them.
This adage was illuminated further when UN Women representative, Dr Auxilia Ponga said that the Women Global Report on Women in tourism shows that women are better positioned to be employers in tourism as compared to other sectors.
Source: eTN Global Travel Industry News