It is difficult to take a picture of the situation as "before", “now”, and "after", because of the everyday changes.
Nevertheless there are daily tens of reports and discussions, so the things that I will tell you are based on my interviews or data from ILO; WTTC, World Bank, Un Women, UNWTO, ISTAT, NGOs in May.
All the women in tourism with whom I am in contact are worried about not opening now, or never again, or not being able to manage bureaucracy, expenses and the thousand aspects to be addressed.
As a small touch of optimism, we at GRT were studying the new initiative of Special Offers that entrepreneurs dedicate to Independent women travellers, and are in touch to find solutions in this tragic situation of reopening.
We will see that:
What women on the grass roots ask for?
The importance of Network.
The importance of supports
What is that experts ask more for?
The importance of data
The importance of including women in decition making processes
But for sure, the news is that the the pre-existing weakness is widening.
Tourism now, data
We knew that Tourism is a major driver of jobs and growth. But COVID-19 has dramatically changed this.
We now know that nearly half of global workforce is at risk of losing livelihoods
The impact on tourism enterprises and workers, the majority being young women, is unprecedented.(ILO)
According to the WTTC 75 million places are at risk, especially among the most vulnerable segments such as migrants, students, women.
The ILO (International Labor Organization) explained that this, like any crisis, will affect informal workers, who are mainly women ( in poor countries up to 90%). Hence many small businesses will disappear, such as intensive, low-paid, low-specialization, part-time, outsourced, shift-based and night-time, seasonal, unprotected and un-unionized jobs.
Travel & Tourism sector faces a staggering 100 million jobs losses one million jobs already being lost every day.
1.6 billion workers in the informal economy – that is nearly half of the global workforce – stand in immediate danger of having their livelihoods destroyed.
Compared to pre-crisis levels (Q4 2019), a 10.5 per cent deterioration is now expected, equivalent to 305 million full-time jobs, warns the International Labour Organization.
Worldwide, more than 436 million enterprises face high risks of serious disruption. including some 51 million in accommodation and food services
While the italian institute for tourism research ( Isnart) calculates that in Italy, who has the majority of accomodation facilities (30% with 4,2 milion jobs) in Europe, one out of four hotels will not open, and that 81 million tourists have been lost in three months with a loss of 9.4 billion of euros.
Women and Covid-19
Although the Beijing Platform for Action was established 25 years ago, lately it was clear that a mounting backlash made landfall against gender equality.
And it appeared clearly what had been noted by the European Institute for Gender Equality in March: that women are left out of the decisions that influence their lives.
If "before" the examples of women's work (and those in tourism are paradigmatic) were used to report the flaws of our system, which does not support female meritocracy, now women have almost become the yardstick for new problems, discovered by everyone because of the crisis.
the hours of work, raised work, according to UNWomen, the spacing measures, the closure of schools, the difficulties that arise from the assistance of the elderly and very young, have increased the load of domestic work on the shoulders of women, who already did three times more than men. In addition: girls are at risk of never returning to school, smart working does not lighten the burden of employed women at home, women will be the first to lose their jobs, have no help for their children, are victims of the digital devide, they are victims of a greatest domestic violence, they are already the most unemployed (for example in Asia the unemployed have gone from 11 to 32 million).
In May ILO published a decisive report called The COVID-19 response: Getting gender equality right for a better future for women at work, saying that 527 milion women were working in sectors at high risk of severe COVID-19 impact in terms of job losses
Women in Tourism: how are they hit by the crisis
The accommodation and food services subsector provided employment for 144 million workers worldwide
More than 50 per cent of workers in the subsector are women, and the majority of the workforce are employed in MSMEs
Women are more likely to be in Small Enterprises, in temporary, part-time and precarious employment
Considering informal jobs in accommodation and food services subsector, women are 58% workers , but in some developing country, they are 92% of the work force.
(ILO reports -called “The COVID-19 response: Getting gender equality right for a better future for women at work” and “Covid and tourism sector”)
According to the World Bank gender Report:
women owned enterprises represent more than 30 percent of registered businesses worldwide, only 10 percent of women entrepreneurs have the capital they need to grow their businesses.
In any case, the estimation is even more worrying when we reflect on the fact that:
Women are more likely to be in temporary, part-time and precarious employment than men. These jobs often come with lower pay, weaker legal protection and difficulties accessing social protection. Levels of precarious work are particularly high among young women, women with low qualifications and migrant women
Lockdown policies hurt small-scale producers, leading on financial dependence on men.
Even in the formal sector, women hold more of the jobs most at risk during the pandemic, like face to face interaction.
Resilience and soft skills
Why all organizations and associations, and GRT too, encourage governments and project managers to incorporate a gender lens into all stages?
Because, when I talk with NOGs and when we look at the data, we know that projects made with women are more durable, women have more soft skills, they are also resilient.
They are “sustainables by nature” and sustainability is the trend now.
This can be a great opportunity to “unstereotype” the gender roles.
In a positive note, we know that tourism is very resilient and we also hope this will be an opportunity to discuss what kind of tourism we want for tomorrow. In a word: a gender-equitable, climate and environment friendly development is crucial.
But now, first of all we are listening to requests from grassroots groups to support their emergency measures
The availability of reliable data will support policy choices aiming to help women and the economy, weather the crisis, and speed up economic recovery.
The World Bank is launching a definite request to governments, that applies for tourism too:
• To support effective decision-making
• To increase economic opportunities for women,
• Collect and share data.
• Include also women from informal sectors and from the grass roots in managing the decision making process
• Important indicators iclude: women opportunites for employement, entrepreneurship, access to credit and informality.COVID-related data on jobs lost by sector women dropout rate from the labor marketthe incidence of domestic violence.
As Carol Freund of World Bank says: ‘We can do better’. And she suggests:
• Support women’s autonomy by improving their bargaining power at home.
• Diversify economic opportunities for women by leveling the playing field in access to employment
• Support economic prospects for women by improving access to finance, equality in employment and retirement.
• Reduce women dropout rate from the job market.
• To keep track we need data
Closing the Gender Gap in TOurism
This is much importat for the all society, also consideringtha, as I calculated well before the actual crisis that the value of the tourism market made by women is vary important. ILO Experts warned me that statistics are very subjectives and that female occupation in tourism sees the most of informal situations, so we are aware of multiple perspectives and contexts dependence.
Never the less, we could say that:
- Women in tourism are approximately 180 millions
- Their contribution to the tourism is about 3,6 trillion
- Closing gender gap in tourism could add to the tourism GDP, about 2,8 trillion dollars
Women for the new Renaissance in Italy
The 30 of May a group of experts in the task force of the equal opportunity and family minister Elena Bonetti, has come out with this plan, to remove deeper prejudices and obstacles in order to promote women's work for the benefit of the whole country in any legislative, political, programmatic, strategic initiative:
• Include gender impact assessment in all policies in the planning phase
• Certification of equality in companies
• Fund for micro and small women’s enterprises
• Incentives and flexibility for mothers/nursery organizations
• Organic development of gender statistics and processes monitored by a Gender Observatory
What can we do to resist to the crisis?
It is truth that the moment has come to put women in the right position that is up to them and to build a tourism more close to the Sustainable Development Goals.
But their problem now is to reopen safely.
It is known what tourism will be like in the coming months: proximity, outdoors, sanitized, in houses or campsites without gatherings. While some larger centers have already opened, small responsible and excellent businesses are preparing.
Those who can are preparing small responsible and excellent businesses, but they are doing so in the highest uncertainty and economic insecurity
Several women are uncertain for the future but are reopening with a new future in mind.
In Italy, for example:
- 1 out of 3 is a female tourism small company
- women are 84% in accomodation services and14% managerial figures
- We have the highest number of rooms (1,058,910) that are in small business. This is a good chance to be environment friendly, in smalll towns are full of inclusion
They are those who allow to experience the lifestyle and the culture of the places
The women of agriculture and farmhouses will be essential.
A few examples?
- The women of Coldiretti in all regions are preparing 3000 farms for summer camps. There will be well-divided spaces, few children for each operator, new outdoor games, car trips instead of minibuses, kids will play with animals outside or go horseback riding, indoors guests will draw or make pizza dough in separate tables - In the Marche Region farmstays associations have just presented a special Covid protocol including the "agri-nursery", for the little ones.
- Two good news for those who are not lazy: bike hotels are getting ready for 5 million travelers expected on two wheels.
- Dozens of trips are being prepared for trekkers , with specialized associations such as Movimento Lento (Slow Movement).
- One of GRT Member, for example is inviting travelers for pic nic in the hotel park