Elita Chikwati and Ellen Chasokela
First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa yesterday encouraged women to actively participate in the tourism sector and help contribute to economic development.
She made the remarks while officially launching the Women in Tourism initiative which is expected to increase participation by women in the sector.
The function which was running under the theme, “Women Empowerment for Tourism Growth and Sustainable Development” was attended by Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Prisca Mupfumira, Senate President Mabel Chinomona and Women’s Affairs, Community Small and Medium Enterprises Development Minister Sithembiso Nyoni, senior Government officials, United Nations delegates, development partners, representatives from the financial sector, women organisations and church organisations.
“At our level as women our time for individualism is past us. The world trends demand that we form alliances and we become powerful forces together. Let us work together so that our efforts will not go in vain. These projects require common unity so I encourage you to be united and maintain oneness,” she said.
“We as African women in tourism can explore our advantages and share notes on pertinent issues on socio and economic development. We need to compete with other women at regional and international level. This can only be achieved if we maintain our oneness.”
She expressed concern that according to the The World Tourism Organisation(UNWTO) report, women were contributing a substantial amount of unpaid labour to home-based tourism businesses.
“I therefore urge you the executive committee to prioritise these key areas to promote gender equality in tourism.
“(UNWTO) also noted that in some countries like Nicaragua and Panama more than 70 percent of business owners are women compared to just over 20 percent in other sectors.
“On employment the International Labour Organisation found out that women make up between 60 to 70 percent of the labour force in the hotel sector.
“A study in Bulgaria revealed 71 percent of managers and administrators in tourism compared to 29 percent in the country as a whole.
“I call for more concerted efforts for women to be more visible and active through various initiatives and strategies. Women must endeavour to record their achievements, challenges, statistics in occasional journals and reports to track progress and take corrective measures,” she said.
She urged the newly appointed executive to shun corruption.
“We have a mammoth task which honesty, patience accountability dedication and willingness to work with other women at all levels. We say no to corruption.
“Women are less corrupt. Let us continue to shine and shun corruption,” she said .
Minister Mupfumira said Zimbabwe had made positive strides in tourism and was on the World’s top three list of the must visit countries.