header photo

International Institute for Peace through Tourism | India

Not because they're better, but because they're equal.

Dr. Taleb Rifai presents 1st IIPT India “Celebrating Her” Global Awards for Empowered Women at ITB Berlin

In association with UNWTO and ITB Berlin, IIPT India conducted the first Global Awards for Empowered Women in Tourism on 11th March at ITB Berlin under the title “Celebrating Her.” You can watch the video of the event by clicking here.

Five exceptional women from across the world, including one from India, were felicitated at the impressive award ceremony where Ms. Rika Jean-Francois, CSR Commissioner for ITB Berlin delivered the welcome address, Dr. Taleb Rifai, Secretary General of the UNWTO delivered the keynote address and Mr. Vinod Zutshi, Secretary for Tourism, Govt. of India was the Guest of Honour. The entire event was coordinated and moderated by Anita Mendiratta, author and international consultant on tourism, Special Advisor to the Secretary General UNWTO and Member IIPT India Advisory Council.

Anita opened the proceedings with the comment that the world celebrated Women’s Day just a couple of days earlier. “But,” she asked, “What about the other 364 days? Because IIPT India firmly believes that the empowerment of women and an enhancement of the feminine principle in the industry would not only contribute positively to the tourism experience but would also contribute significantly to realizing IIPT’s vision of Peace through Tourism, in order to recognize and celebrate women who have contributed to this vision - women who have not only empowered themselves but continue to empower other women, fueling great growth of the sector - IIPTI is delighted to hold the first “Global Awards for Women in Tourism: CELEBRATING HER” in association with ITB Berlin and the UNWTO.”

In her welcome address Rika Jean-Francois, CSR Commissioner for ITB Berlin said that one of the major parts of CSR is Gender Equality which has been often neglected. “There are so many women in the backyard of tourism that never have a chance to be in the spot light, in spite of being the backbone of the industry. These awards for the first time provide a platform for their empowerment and encouragement.”  ITB, she said, is happy to partner with IIPT India in this initiative and would like to do so next year as well."

Elaborating on the rationale and the theme of the awards Ajay Prakash said “ To realize the dream of peace through tourism, the industry needs to look beyond revenues, footfalls or room nights and rise to attain its higher purpose – that of breaking barriers and connecting people, of dispelling the irrational ‘fear of the other’ which is often the root of conflict, of bringing home the truth that the things and thoughts that unite us far outweigh the differences that might divide us and of recognizing the one fundamental truth: that you cannot build anything lasting or meaningful if you ignore or sideline half the population of the world – its women.” “Celebrating Her” was about empowering more women to attain positions of power and get into decision making roles, by acknowledging and celebrating women who have come through and made a difference in our chosen field – travel & tourism, about holding up such women as achievers and projecting them as role models for other young women to empower themselves.” 

Mr. Vinod Zutshi, Secretary for Tourism Govt. of India in his address commended IIPT India for this important initiative and thanked UNWTO and ITB for their support to the IIPT India awards.

Dr. Taleb Rifai spoke at length on the situation within the industry. He acknowledged and thanked the award winners for their efforts to make the world a better place. He congratulated IIPT India and ITB Berlin for taking up the issue of gender equality and celebrating women and said that UNWTO was proud to be associated with the Awards.

"For tourism to make a meaningful contribution to peace the challenges of gender equality and ensuring women empowerment must form a crucial part of tourism policy and strategy," said Dr. Rifai. “Tourism is the largest employer of women, It employs twice as many women as the services or production sectors. However it still has failed to tap the true potential of women which remains under utilised, under recognised, under paid, under exposed to education and under represented in leadership roles.” Women, who comprise 50% or more of the global population account for 62-64% of the workforce in tourism, but constitute a mere 17% in leadership roles and earn 10-15% lower than their male counterparts in identical positions as per UN studies and statistics.

Gender equality, continued Dr. Rifai, is at the forefront of UN policy. Referring to the UNWTO Global Code of Ethics in Tourism which was unanimously approved by the UN General Assembly in 2000, he said that governments must respect what they have signed. He quoted Article 2 of the Code – “Tourism activities must respect the equality of men and women; they should promote human rights and more particularly the individual rights of the most vulnerable groups…”

He concluded by congratulating IIPT India and ITB Berlin and urged all present to make a conscious effort to recognize and celebrate the role of women in tourism “Not because they are better,” he said, “But because they are equal.”

The award winners:

  • Dr. Nicole Haeusler Consultant for Responsible Tourism, Myanmar for Community Based Tourism
  • Ms. Aileen Clemente President of Rajah Travel, Philippines for Tourism and Peace
  • Dr. Dietlind von Lassberg Vice Chairwoman of Institute for Tourism & Development, Germany for Tourism Education
  • Ms. Jane Ashton, Director of Sustainability, TUI Group, UK for Tourism Sustainability
  • Ms. Valsa Nair Singh, Tourism Secretary, Govt. of Maharashtra for Innovation in Tourism

Mr. Kiran Yadav, Vice President IIPT India delivered the Vote of Thanks.