By Sijie Chen and Xingjian Ren
In China, minority women are facing serious economic problems. They often suffer from lack of local jobs with sustainable incomes. In Xinjiang in 2018, minority women’s employment rate is 32.1%. For national minorities in Southwestern China especially in Yunnan Province, the circumstance is similar: minority women’s employment rate is low. Even if they are to find a job, without local job opportunities, they can only find jobs outside of the village in cities and towns. The phenomenon of women working outside of the village appears in many Nationalities: Hui, Yi, BouYei (the nationality living at Ban Wan Village, where this article is aiming to find a solution to give economic empowerments to minority women), etc. According to the interviews with local women at Ban Wan Village, since most of them did not have high education background, they can only find jobs in factories in cities or towns far away from the village before the government in Guizhou began giving employment assistance to minority women these years. Additionally, most of the families helped by “Da-Shan-Xiao-Ke” organization in 2020 were in the situation: women went out far to work; men stayed at home doing housework and farm work.
In the whole world, minority women are also facing with serious economic problems as well. In US, minorities women suffer more serious poverty than white women. Black, Hispanic and American Indian people suffer much higher poverty rate than white and American Asian people in US. In Africa, in 2021, 490 million people, or 36% of African population, are in extreme poverty. 37% of women in Africa lived in poverty. In South Africa, the Continent’s second-largest economy, still have 26% poverty rate and 30.5% women unemployment, not to say some more developing countries in Africa. The series of data indicate that in the world, whether in developed or developing countries, minority women have trouble in getting enough money.
There are various ways to achieve minority women’s economic empowerment. Developing tourism industry locally is a good idea, since it provides minority women with good local employment with sustainable income. In that way, minority women can get rid of unemployment and the disadvantages of working far away in cities or towns.
Women occupy an important position in terms of the structure of tourism talent employment. The proportion of female employees in the travel agency industry is significantly higher than that of male employees, more than twice the proportion. The proportion of female tourist talents in the travel agency industry has reached 78%. In tourist attractions, women account for 45% of the total number of tourist talents in tourist attractions, and this proportion is in line with the needs of tourist attractions operations.
In the tourism supply, the categories in which women can play a broad role are operating departments and hospitality and cultural resources. In the operating department, because the tourism industry is a human resource-intensive industry, many services cannot be completed with machinery and equipment. Especially in order to meet the diversified and personalized needs in the market, or the pursuit of exquisite handicrafts, people must be retained or adopted. In the work industry, the supply of women’s labor meets the needs of the industry. In addition, due to physiological differences, women are inherently more sensitive than men and have more detailed observation capabilities. They have certain advantages in emotional expression and perception. These advantages are all played to promote the development of tourism in the process of service contact.
Hospitality and culture permeate the material tourism supply elements of tourist destinations, including the language, customs, religious beliefs and related behaviors of local residents. It is the cultural differences between regions that make tourist destinations extremely attractive. Women play an important role in the spiritual and cultural elements of tourism supply, and they are not only the creators and inheritors of local spiritual culture, but also their exhibitors and disseminators.
In the process of travel information dissemination, generally speaking, women love to chat in their lives. This kind of personality traits that are more willing to communicate and share with others determines that female tourists become the main force of word-of-mouth dissemination. The important significance of word-of-mouth communication is that it helps potential consumers obtain more trustworthy information than the information provided by travel companies and breaks the information asymmetry between consumers and companies.
All information above demonstrates that women will only be benefited more with the development of tourism and play a greater role in industries related to tourism. “In most regions of the world, women make up the majority of the tourism workforce,” and thus will be benefited more if tourism is developed. “Since 2007, UNWTO has been working in partnership with UN Women, to bring gender issues to the forefront of the tourism sector, promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment” further shows that developing tourism is a good method of empowering women.
In Maldives, a country renowned for its successful tourism industry, women accounted for the lowest proportion in the resort business industry. From a gender perspective, the Maldivian government will review industry development plans in tourism, fisheries and agriculture in order to determine the areas of employment for women, support affirmative actions in terms of industry standards and skills training, and promote the employment of qualified women.
Starting in 2017, Shi Linjiao and her partners Shi Zhichun and Shi Kang decided to work together to promote their hometown to the outside world using modern communication channels. Soon after, the three-person team has gained nearly 100,000 fans on Tiktok, and has become a veritable “net celebrity”, and more and more fans have begun to buy souvenirs from Shibadong Village. Shi Zhichun said that they have sold hundreds of kilograms of bacon, and villagers can earn US$8.5 for every kilogram of bacon sold. In addition, they are also trying to sell other local products such as pepper, rice wine, and kiwi fruit. In order to sell more types of products in the future, while better guaranteeing the quality of the products, Shi Zhichun is planning to set up his own food company and even a food processing plant. Now Shi Zhichun is an idol of those local women and girls in Shibadong Village, they are super eager and anxious to become successful businesswomen like her. The story of Shi Zhichun is a motivation for other local women create wealth for themselves and their families, and they are more confident of themselves than ever.
Japan is a very traditional country. After graduating from university, most women choose to marry and have children. They normally choose to become full-time housewives, and stay at home every day. Therefore, the employment rate of Japanese women is very low. Although Kumamon, a very top IP in the world, has brought a great development to the tourism industry in Kumamoto Prefecture, it has actually not helped much to increase the employment rate of women. However, the local average household income in Kumamoto Prefecture has greatly increased, which has reduced the family financial burden of many women. At the same time, the social status of women has been improved with the help of the tourism industry. For example, Kumamoto Prefecture will hold many celebrations and promotional activities on Women’s Day, expressing its attention and concern for women.
Locally at Ban Wan Village, people and governments are also striving to develop tourism, providing job opportunity for local women. Firstly, the government put great importance on the advertisement of local tourism. Different kinds of traditional drama in Ban Wan Village are listed as State-Level Non-Material Cultural Heritage, and a brand-new stage in the village for the dramas is built by the government in 2019 to attract tourists. Dream Home Transformer, a TV show, worked with local government and an art college, rebuilt about 108 traditional stilted buildings at Ban Wan Village, among which some are used for accommodation of travelers, making them more beautiful, cleaner and more attractive for tourists. Besides the government, many other organizations are helping the development of tourism at Ban Wan Village. An organization called “Da-Shan-Xiao-Ke” organizes the functioning of local B&Bs. However, it’s still not enough. Tourism at Ban Wan Village is still not fully developed.
Through promoting local tourism with different methods learnt from good examples all around the world, minority women at Ban Wan village would be empowered economically.