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EMPOWERING WOMEN'S PARTICIPATION IN TOURISM LABOUR FORCE IN AMHARA REGION, ETHIOPIA [Abstract ID: 0303-02]
In recent years, tourism has acquired widespread support as a tool for sustainable development. Hence, alternative forms of tourism such as ecotourism, pro-poor tourism, volunteer tourism, and community-based tourism have emerged. While a sustainable tourism development strongly emphasizes environmental issues, it seems that socio-cultural issues have been overshadowed. Gender considerations need to be included in a critical analysis of the socio-cultural impacts of these emerging forms of tourism. This research seeks to verify how the participation of women in the tourism industry enhances their empowerment in Amhara Regional state. The discussion spins around issues such as the female labour force involved in ecotourism; the nature of their participation, including their motivations to engage in ecotourism and challenges encountered; approaches employed to address these challenges; and future directions in the aforementioned issues in relation to their empowerment. Empowerment is operationalized as a multidimensional process with political, psychological, social, and economic dimensions experienced individually and collectively. The findings of this research revealed that women's labour force involvement in ecotourism within the Amhara region is receding. Women's involvement in tourism is confined to low skill and low reward tasks. Women have been involved in tourism primarily through producing and selling cultural artifacts to tourists. They are also involved in facilitating tourism through the provision of food and beverages. However, in Amhara, women's participation in making decisions or serving as community leaders for ecotourism is in its infant stage. Our findings indicate that female empowerment and participation can be successful in promoting ecotourism projects; therefore, the incorporation of gender analysis assessment that examines the level of women's labour force will be of use to persons engaged in supporting community development.