It’s International Women’s Day 2021! Collective action and shared ownership for driving gender parity is what makes International Women’s Day so successful. Gloria Steinem, world-renowned feminist, journalist and activist once explained: “The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organisation but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights.”
Celebrate women’s achievement. Raise awareness against bias. Take action for equality. Check out these inspiring stories.
SUCCESSFUL FEMALE BOSSES OF RIVIERA NAYARIT
Riviera Nayarit, Mexico’s Pacific Treasure, is renowned for its female entrepreneurial scene.
From the destination’s official gastronomy ambassador, celebrity chef Betty Vazquez, who has spear-headed one of the country’s leading and most-awarded restaurants that specialise in authentic Nayarit flavours, and go-getter by nature Sajeela de la Borbolla who was the inspiration behind the holistic retreat Haramara, one the world’s 10 best yoga retreats. To the innovative Laura Aguilar, owner of the Planeta Cacao, which offers an experiential tour deep into the roots of cocoa in Mexico’s Pacific coast, where travellers can enjoy endless opportunities to learn and appreciate the symbolism of cocoa.
These women, among so many more, have long been key players in helping position Riviera Nayarit as a versatile region through their one-of-a-kind offerings.
THE FEMALE PORTERS OF MT. KILIMANJARO
Guiding climbers up Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa, has always been seen as ‘man’s work’ by the communities surrounding the peak – until now.
A scholarship fund sponsored by Exodus Travels gives local women the chance to train as mountain guides – allowing them to join Kili’s male-dominated ranks of expedition leaders. Of the hundreds of guides employed on the Tanzanian mountain, only a handful are currently women. But the Mountain Lioness Scholarship aims to create equal opportunities on the peak.
Exodus Travels will fund and facilitate ten scholarships per year for three years for women to be trained as Kilimanjaro guides in a programme called ‘The Mountain Lioness Scholarship’. As guides, the women will have the opportunity to substantially increase their income, provides a visible role model to other girls and women in the mountain’s surrounding communities – and join Tanzania’s push for equality.
LIFE-CHANGING CHOCOLATE IN THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
The Dominican Republic is acclaimed for its breath-taking beaches and warm waters, but there’s a whole lot more to this Caribbean nation besides sun, sand, and sea.
Located in hilly Palmar Grande, the female-owned, female-operated Chocal Chocolate Factory has been empowering women and boosting the local economy for thirteen years. Back in 2007, thirty women from Palmar Grande decided to take their future into their own hands and set up a women’s cooperative to cultivate, process, package and sell chocolate.
Since its founding, the cooperative has empowered women by creating jobs and offering opportunities to learn new skills. It also enables young women to continue their education. Take Noemi Crisostomo for example, Noemi had to leave high school to help support her family. After joining the cooperative she was able to save towards her education. Fast forward a few years, and Noemi is an Industrial Psychologist.
Easily accessed from the resorts of Puerto Plata, Chocal offers visitors a unique experience. Visitors will meet the women and see how the cacao is processed and pressed into bars. In addition, there’s an all-important opportunity to taste chocolate and make their own bar.
BOOTCAMP FOR XTRAORDINARY ENTREPRENEURS
In 2009, the founders of XtraOrdinary Women (XOW) met women living in La Chureca, Central America’s largest landfill. These women had few opportunities, earning on average $5US per day for a 14-hour shift. They decided to create a programme to train them with the skills they need to get a job and support them with their job search, to break the cycle of poverty, bring sustainable change, and lead a happier future.
Last year, the LATA Foundation launched a new initiative in support of the XtraOrdinary Women programme – a Bootcamp for XtraOrdinary entrepreneurs. The Bootcamp is aimed at women from marginalised areas of Managua who are stuck in a cycle of poverty and had to start small businesses out of necessity to survive.
On completion of the course, each entrepreneur is supported with a personalised monitoring and evaluation programme consisting of a weekly follow-up call with the team and monthly mentor visits at her business to support her as she implements her business plan.
XOW has also created an XtraOrdinary online talent platform to connect graduates from their bootcamp programmes with job opportunities and to reach new markets.
FIRST INDIGENOUS WOMAN DIRECTOR OF GUYANA TOURISM AUTHORITY
Last year, the Guyana Tourism Authority (GTA) announced the appointment of Deputy Director, Carla James, as director of the tourism body, making Carla James the first ever indigenous woman to assume the position. Her appointment marks a pivotal moment in the GTA’s 18-year history as she becomes the first indigenous woman to assume the role – a fact to be noted by social historians and celebrated by indigenous peoples and women of all ethnicities throughout Guyana.
The new director assumed leadership during what is easily the most severe and dynamic time for the global tourism industry – COVID-19 crisis. She has led her team through the implementation of an industry recovery strategy, building on what has been established over the last years and pivoting based on the travel industry’s new normal. The Board of the Guyana Tourism Authority, entire GTA body and outgoing Director, Brian T. Mullis, remain confident that Ms. James’ leadership capabilities and strong support will allow the GTA and Guyana tourism sector to overcome any challenges and build upon the tremendous successes already achieved.
TOUR GUIDING TYCOONS
ToursByLocals empowers women across the globe, giving them an opportunity to participate fully in the tourism industry. Not only do they encourage them to be tourism entrepreneurs in destinations where the role is traditionally male-dominated, they also provide a safe and successful platform allowing them to earn a fair wage. Female solo travellers should also feel at ease when booking a trip with ToursByLocals as there is a large selection of expert female guides to host the tours, if preferred. Handpicked local guide Nahla who resides in Cairo has a degree in Egyptology and also organises Nile tours, whilst Monica in India, was born and raised in Agra and has trained with great historians after completing her Masters in History.
Noura from Marrakech offers a private half-day walking tour of Marrakech exploring the mesmerising labyrinth of alleyways within the medina and a visit to the grand Bahia Palace, from £113 per tour, for up to six people.
STRONG AT SEA
Alaska, the large, sparsely populated state, is one of the world’s largest seafood exporters. Alaska is home to some of the world’s most premium seafood. For the men and women who work the cold, pristine waters of Alaska, fishing is more than a livelihood—it’s a part of who they are, and often, a tradition that goes back many generations. In Alaska, many walks of life, from fisherman to scientists to processing managers to law enforcement, all work together every day to ensure the health and sustainability of the fisheries, create thriving coastal communities, and produce the highest quality seafood.
The “Strong At Sea” collection (a compilation of photographs, audio interviews and video graphics) celebrates the women fishing Alaska’s waters. Captured on deck during the summer of 2019 in the Copper River and Prince William Sound fishing areas, these female fishermen represent the heart and soul of Alaska’s commercial fleet: hard-working, thoughtful, and deeply connected to the ocean that shares their livelihood.
PIVOTING BUSINESS TRAVEL DURING THE PANDEMIC
Abby Penston took on the role of CEO of leading business travel consortium at the end of 2019 and transitioned the organisation into a limited company, which negotiates commercial deals for 54 travel management companies.
At the start of the pandemic, she initiated a repatriation programme and led the Partnership to take measures to shore up their businesses as countries closed borders. During lockdowns Focus Travel Partnership has run a series of training courses for staff both on furlough and working throughout to ensure that teams were fully up-to-date with the business and technological landscapes. Abby has also ramped up the provision of professional assistance in the forms of HR, accountancy, and legal services for TMC Partners and has developed digital platforms to share best practice.
In addition, the Partnership has developed PinPoint, a new duty of care technology system, which provides TMC and corporate clients with the capacity to know where their travelling teams were, are and where they are due to travel and to combine that with current risks so that travel arrangements can be managed, amended, or cancelled according to government advice and risk levels.
As a result, Partners have fared better than most in the sector. Focus Travel Partnership companies have continued to serve their corporate partners who have teams travelling for essential purposes including those in offshore and marine; construction; engineering finance; and telecom sectors.