15 June 2013
Bangalore: Can a bullish industry such as tourism have a negative effect on the women in society? To understand the problems faced by women in the tourism industry, the Indian Association of Women’s Studies (IAWS) and Equations organised a one-day seminar on the topic on Friday in the city. According to Shaila D’souza, regional coordinator of IAWS, the point of the seminar was to look at tourism from a gendered perspective.
“We are trying to understand the role played by women in the tourism industry in both the formal and informal sector and the problems that they face,” she said. And some of the problems range from inequality in workplace, to even being displaced.
“The tourism lobby is a very powerful lobby and that’s why you don’t have too many voices dissenting. But when there is tourism, then people are sometimes displaced, so hotels and properties can be developed or land prices increase to a point that farmers can no longer afford land for agriculture and women are therefore affected because their livelihoods are at stake,” she added.
Aditi Chanchani from Equations said that sexual harassment is also a big problem in the industry.
“Even when you look at the formal sector, it’s the kind of industry where many people work on contractual basis and have an easy-to-hire-and-fire policy already in place. So it becomes really difficult to voice problems like sexual harassment because they will lose their jobs for sure,” she said, adding that in the informal sector the rise of sexual tourism (and prostitution tourism) has also put women in danger.
Which is why a group of bodies working in the hotel industry, women empowerment bodies and civic bodies came together to discuss viable solutions for the problems.
“One of the problems we discussed was providing subsidies to hotels or workplaces that show equal employment opportunities for both men and women in all stages,” said D’souza.