Gender Equality in the Tourism Industry

Date: Thursday, September 15, 2011

Message of Michelle Bachelet, Executive Director of UN Women on the occasion of the First International Congress on Ethics and Tourism, Madrid, Spain, 15-16 September 2011.

Mr. Secretary General; Excellencies; Distinguished Delegates; and Executives of the Hospitality Industry:

It is my great pleasure to join you today at the First Conference on Ethics and Tourism organized by the World Tourism Organization and the Government of Spain.

Sound ethical practices underpin a sustainable and responsible tourism industry that invests in equal pay, gender equality, and protects our environment. A solid foundation has been provided by the Global Code for Ethics in Tourism adopted by the UN World Tourism Organization in 1999 and promoted by the United Nations General Assembly. The Global Code in its Article II920 calls upon all stakeholders to respect and advance the goal of equality between men and women.

Since I assumed the leadership of UN Women, I have defined my vision of a world where men and women have equal opportunities, and where gender equality is prioritized in national agendas and budgets. Our strategic priorities focus on increasing women's leadership and participation, ending violence against women and girls, engaging women in all aspects of peace and security, and enhancing women's economic empowerment.

Now I know that hopes are high for UN Women and we need to match these hopes with immediate and bold action. I also know that we cannot achieve our aspirations alone. And that is why we are committed to working with partners like you, and many others around the globe. Together with the World Tourism Organization, we have produced an outstanding Global report on Women in Tourism that provides the first in-depth analysis of the relevant work of women in the tourism sector in developing countries. We are developing a “Tourism and Gender portal as a global resource and forum for the exchange of information and ideas. Finally, we are working on a “Women in Tourism Empowerment Programme, that will provide women with hands-on training in specific skills in the hospitality industry to enhance their employment opportunities.

As you participate in this meeting and when you return home, I ask you to do your part for women throughout the supply chain of the tourism industry. You can offer women jobs in the hospitality industry, assure fair access to microcredit; invest in training; promote mentorship, and feed the media with success stories of women entrepreneurs in the tourism sector who have made a difference in their communities. I also encourage you to sign on to the Women's Empowerment Principles, a joint initiative between UN Women and the United Nations Global Compact that promotes best business practices within the private sector, including equal pay for equal work, equal opportunities for management positions, and work/ life balance.

I conclude my remarks today by inviting each one of you in your respective organizations to foster equal opportunity and provide opportunities to women in leadership roles. This will enable us to achieve a more democratic, ethical, productive, and peaceful society.

I thank you very much!