Transforming structures

Transforming structures

by Mariana Caliuolo

Gender equality in Adventure Tourism

Gender Equality continues to be one of the great topics on the International Agenda, but the claim has become more powerful towards a true structural transformation, systemic, profound and irreversible changes are being called for. The gender gap has advanced during the Pandemic and at this rate, it would take 219 years to achieve equity globally, according to the World Economic Forum index.
At a global level, there were milestones such as the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995, which proposed not only a Declaration, but also a Platform for Action – which has been evaluated every five years since then – and which raises the transversality of gender, considering Gender Equality one of the central axes to achieve the Sustainable Development goals.
In 2015, 20 years after Beijing, the International Agenda incorporated Goal number 5, referring to Gender Equality, which in turn correlates with most of the global development goals, the message is clear : There can be no sustainability without gender equality.
In this context, the Global Tourism Industry is an industry that has the potential to generate structural changes, due to its nature that generates cultural exchange (Enloe, 2014). These systemic changes are very difficult to achieve, so it is essential that we get involved and take responsibility for the issues in our Industry that still need to be improved.

Intersecting axes of inequality

In the most recent Global Report of Women in Tourism, UNWTO. Second Edition (2019) – it is indicated that women represent 54% of the workforce worldwide, and that the gender gap is 15% in terms of salaries for jobs in the sector. Likewise, globally, 23% of Women hold ministerial positions, a higher percentage than in any other sector.
Regarding the region of Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), the report emphasizes the factors of poverty and gender violence and how they affect women in a greater proportion (UNWTO, 2019)
The same study highlights that the advances that occur in the area of ​​gender equality occur mostly among women who work in the formal sector of the industry or who are self-employed, which is not the case with women who perform informal jobs (street vendors, artisans, temporary work positions, etc.). Likewise, women lose opportunities due to intersectional barriers, such as race, ethnicity, sexuality, and migrant status, among others.

So how can we get involved? And what are the implications?

Raising your voice on gender equality issues can be uncomfortable, that is the word that best represents the process that we started in our own Company, by signing the WEP Principles – Women’s Empowerment Principles, under a program called Win-Win, promoted in a series of Latin American countries, with support from the European Union and the ILO – World Labor Organization.
Overcoming this initial discomfort meant a great step for our Work Team and we have embarked on an action plan to be able to influence the transformation of those immense, strong and deeply rooted structures within us.
We learned that many women do not have opportunities in the world of work, because companies were not designed with a gender perspective, and that we tend to incorporate people based on criteria riddled with unconscious biases.

Women who manage to enter the world of work, despite the barriers they face for the mere fact of being women, must later develop an extraordinary strength, to resist on the path to a successful professional life, often relegating other aspects of their personal lives.
Through the creation of a working group, moderated by a consultant from UN Women, we were able to debate on what actions we could carry out from our SME, since many times the plans elaborated by the UN Global Compact are designed for large corporations. , and we felt a little small for such an overwhelming goal.

Here is a summary of the highlights of the action plan we developed together with UNWomen:

Leadership and Strategy

  • Commitment of the Company’s management on raising awareness about the WEP Principles and with the incorporation of a gender perspective in the Company’s strategic plans.


  • Design a Microcredit Program for the development of sustainable tourism services, which favor the empowerment of women, especially in communities with a greater situation of vulnerability.
  • Provide training to female adventure travel guides, not only in driving practice, but also in knowledge that allows them to stand out in the Adventure Tourism industry.
  • Develop training programs for job roles that are usually associated with a certain gender, and be able to open more equal opportunities in the world of tourism work, for men and women.


  • Flexible schedules for all Company personnel, with the possibility of communicating specific needs for care tasks to the areas involved.
  • Adherence to Article 190 of the ILO (2019), on harassment and workplace violence.
  • Support for the professional development of all members of the Company, with specific programs for women.


  • Identify suppliers and SMEs that are owned by women and that can provide the Group’s Hotels with products and services that also include triple impact businesses (supplies, food, etc.).
  • Make these suppliers that belong to women visible on the hotels’ websites, including a support link to promote the Circular Economy and Responsible Consumption.
Ph: Adventure Travel Training Team. Socompa SRL.

These goals represent our first steps in our desire to contribute to a more equitable world. We share some points of our action plan that can serve as an example for those who wish to take initiatives in their own companies, tourism destinations or organizations.
The biggest and most important transformation is the one that we carry out as a work group on an emotional and conscious level. Recently, we had the opportunity to provide training to Site Guides, from a local Municipality, together with my colleagues, and it was very emotional for me to see these men giving space to women who did not dare to go to the center and express themselves, with an act as simple as creating an environment conducive to women feeling sufficiently confident to take a step forward. Real change is very subtle, and it starts within ourselves.

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