International Women’s Day is ‘opportune moment to reflect’, says TTC’s TreadRight Ambassador Céline Cousteau.

This International Women’s Day is an opportune moment to reflect.

The past 12 months saw some significant advancement in the much-needed shift towards balance between the sexes, and many industries have been forever changed or at the least shaken for the better by the #MeToo movement.

Even more encouraging is the fact that the travel and tourism industry performs better than many sectors when it comes to gender parity and in providing opportunities for the advancement of women around the world.

But there is so much more to do. Empowering women to participate fully in economic life is critical in the creation of strong economies and greater gender equity in organisations results in more successful businesses.

This is something I’ve had the privileged opportunity to witness and appreciate first-hand in my role as ambassador for The TreadRight Foundation. This is a non-profit set up a decade ago by The Travel Corporation to protect the planet, its people and wildlife, and is supported by its family of brands, including Trafalgar, Red Carnation Hotels, Uniworld and Insight Vacations.

My role with TreadRight has allowed me to travel to many fascinating corners of our planet and gain a greater understanding of just how tourism can provide vital support to women around the world.

I recently visited the Iraq al-Amir Women’s Cooperative in Jordan, which is a fantastic example of the opportunities that tourism can bring to a region’s women. Founded by the Noor Al-Hussein Foundation in 1993, the co-operative aims to make local women financially independent, raise their standard of living by increasing their income, and preserve their culturally valuable local heritage.

Managed and run by local women, it has provided training projects for more than 150 women from the villages of Wadi Seer in a variety of handicrafts. I have witnessed firsthand how TreadRight’s involvement is ensuring that the co-operative has the necessary materials on hand, helping to complete a build-out of their gift shop, providing merchandising expertise, and allowing the group to expand their food services.

When travellers visit the co-operative, it’s an opportunity for the development of genuine cross-cultural exchanges and creates more potential for members to participate in the global economy, a vital connection that would not otherwise exist for them.

Tourism might well be better positioned to help in this regard than any other global industry, which is why tourism has a responsibility in pushing for global gender equality.

By working thoughtfully and diligently to create, develop, and encourage empowering opportunities for women around the world, travel organisations that promote gender parity for their teams and in the communities they visit aren’t simply showing their guests the world, they’re also helping to bring a more just world economy to the places they visit.

Together we can create a fairer world, for everyone.