Keynote address by Zimbabwean First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa at the launch of the Women In Tourism Chapter at the Harare International Conference Centre.
By Auxillia Mnangagwa
IT IS WITH great pleasure and honour that I stand before you today to address this important gathering, as we celebrate the Launch of the Women in Tourism National Chapter. Firstly, I would like to congratulate the members of the National Chapter for being nominated to represent the Women in Tourism at a national level.
This is the beginning of a new chapter which needs seriousness, commitment and engagement in an initiative and innovative mood. The formation of the Women in Tourism National Chapter was long-overdue. Women in Zimbabwe are known to be hard working and given the opportunity they can do wonders and made a difference.
What was required is to get organized and have a standing structure to proffer an effective channel of communication in order to promote and inspire entrepreneurship in the tourism sector.
This structure is aimed at integrating women from different backgrounds and spectrum within the sector to further a common goal of socio and economic development. It also gives the platform for effective networking and knowledge sharing.
Create employment and sustain livelihoods
Globally, tourism is a sector having the highest share of women employment with 49% of the workforce in hotels and restaurants, however most of them assuming lower ranks, according to UNWTO.
The establishment of Women in Tourism gives women an opportunity to be masters of their own destiny and be able to run their businesses sustainably, create employment and sustain livelihoods.
Women in Tourism National Chapter, you have a mammoth task before you which require dedication and willingness to work with other women at all levels. The trust of the people is invested upon you as their representatives, therefore, be prepared to delivery and stand for others in every situation for the benefit of Women in Tourism.
I would like to commend the Ministry of Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry for coming up with this initiative which is aimed at driving programmes that support the development and empowerment of women in the tourism sector.
Programmes for mentorship and trainings should also be introduced in order to enhance scope and capabilities. It is within our interests as Government to help women run sustainable tourism businesses that will compete regionally and globally.
Women participation in mainstream economy
Women participation in mainstream economy is key to the development of the nation. May I hasten to say, the Government of Zimbabwe recognizes the importance of Women to a greater expect. Policies were put in place to empower women in Zimbabwe, stand alone Ministry responsible for women affairs and financial facilities to support women projects.
As women, let us make use of the opportunities availed to us by Government and prove that we are able and capable indeed of turning around the economy.
Now that we have a defined Women in Tourism structure there is need to create synergies with your counterparts at provincial level and share ideas and experiences. This will facilitate tourism development at provincial and ward level. We expect effective communication from the top to grassroots level and vice versa.
Remember you were entrusted by other women as their representatives, consultations before coming up with a position is critical. Avoid being self-centred and selective, we want information to cascade effectively to those who matters. The benefits of tourism should be shared fairly across all communities for effective improvement of livelihoods.
We expect orderliness and speak with one voice so that you can be heard. The Government is willing to work with you and assist you in every endeavour. We are now living in a contemporary world and doing business in digital environments should not be an option. Let us customize our products to the current environment in order to remain fashionable and competitive in every sphere.
There is need to bridge the gap between emerging and existing entrepreneurs. Previously the focus was to produce for family consumption but today we are encouraged to have a broader scope, looking at how much our businesses as women are contributing the economy.
Woman participation in the economy has been raised to a higher level where tourism structures are encouraged at national, regional and international levels. Zimbabwe had an opportunity to attend the UNWTO Commission for Africa Meeting which was held in Nigeria last year.
Women empowerment in the tourism sector was a topical issue for discussion.
Key issues raised during deliberations include:
· Appointment of an African Leadership Taskforce for Women in Tourism;
· Introduction of Women in Tourism Empowerment Programmes to improve employment and entrepreneurship opportunities;
· Provision of career advancement for women in the tourism sector;
· Hosting a Regional Congress on Women Empowerment in Africa in the Tourism Sector with the inaugural Congress being held in Accra Ghana in 2019; and
· Publishing of the Second Edition of the Global Report on Women in Tourism (2019).
With this in place, Women in Tourism we are being challenged to take up businesses in tourism to a higher level. We need to compete with other women at regional and international level. This can only be achieved if we maintain our oneness. Let us thrive to excel in whatever we are doing so that the Zimbabwe Women in Tourism success story can be heard across the globe.
My hope in future is to host the Regional Congress on Women Empowerment in Africa creating an opportunity for networking, sharing experiences and expand the business horizon.
In conclusion, I would like to once again congratulate the members of the Women in Tourism National Chapter and the Provincial Chapter. We are with you and our door is open to hear more from you. We look forward to receiving success stories and continued engagements.
I would like to thank the Ministry of Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry, the brains behind the establishment of this important structure. I also want to thank all of you gathered here to grace this important occasion.
With this few words, it is now my singular honour and privilege to officially launch the Zimbabwe Women in Tourism National Chapter. I thank you.
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