Women in Tourism Indonesia Was Warmly Invited To The UN Roundtable 2022

We are honored to announce that Women in Tourism Indonesia (WTID) was warmly invited to the UN Roundtable to discuss the recovery of sustainable tourism after the COVID-19 pandemic. As an organization whose value is gender equality, Monica as a representative from WTID delivered several points in the first round session in regards to pandemic circumstances and how it affected the environment especially on achieving gender equality, eliminating discrimination, violence, and harassment.


(Source Photo : Author's Personal Docs) 


In many nations, including Indonesia, vulnerable communities including women have been hit harder both economically and socially during the pandemic.  Statistics Indonesia data shows that more than 55% of our unemployed workforce caused by the pandemic are in the informal sector (which tourism includes in). According to research, Covid19 has placed 3.4 million jobs in the tourism industry at risk, of which around 1.63 million of them are women who are in low-income and low-education levels. Socially, sexual harassment has increased drastically according to Komnas Perempuan after the pandemic hits.  With that being said, this has changed the tourism environment. Especially in regions where Tourism is the main source of income. Bali suffered the hardest blow, followed by Riau, Yogyakarta, and West Nusa Tenggara. Women laborers in the tourism industry faced a difficult challenge to find new occupations. However, we–WTID found out (through our research paper) that pandemic forces women entrepreneurs to be resilient; they sell domestic products and collaborate with other businesses to reinforce/increase their business sales. Interestingly, the research shows that female entrepreneurs have strong resistance to face the pandemic.

To sum up, women entrepreneurs' resilience is great but we need to address those that are in lower economic income levels and lower education levels. To add more, we also need to readdress how tourism can provide safe space and equal opportunities for women.


(Source Photo : Author's Personal Docs) 


In the second round, Monica  pointed out the policy & practices that have not worked in gender mainstreaming. Also, there was a question about how to make it better in the future. As we all understand, pandemics hit tourism hard but there’s several things that need to be addressed regarding the policy that needs to be concerned. In the Indonesian tourism sector, RIPPARNAS (National Tourism Planning Policy), we  found in the 28th chapter with an eye to reinforce community empowerment - we also need to optimize gender mainstreaming for developing tourism. From our preliminary webinars, interviews with our associate, we see that the gender mainstreaming aspect needs to be reviewed in order to see the future outcome we need to improve. In addition, based on our research, we found it is really important to implement both gender studies and practices at university/vocational tourism level. According to our research, there are only 0.3% of universities that put gender and tourism as a subject. As a matter of fact, based on working papers released by ILO, violence and threats seems to be a common experience for those who work in “night-economy” which tourism industry includes in. Another research stated that 44% of tourism workforce experienced violence, which most of them are sexually abused whether they are in managerial and non-managerial position (Scott, 1998). It stated that genders play roles in this matter, age was also important factor with younger people who are far more vulnerable (most of them are in 20ies). Based on this, we can translates that there are things that need to be readdressed in tourism curriculum.


Therefore, as an effort to build back better, we held a WTIDcamp–an inclusive training for tourism students, we got testimony from our students that subjects we taught are really useful to them to understand the fundamental aspect of gender equality and also to mitigate challanges  faced by tourism labors and managers i.e wage gap, sexual harassment, gender bias, and job promotion.  In addition, to our surprise, 10% of our students in WTIDCAMP program experienced harassment during their internship; they conveyed that it was so difficult to speak up, self - defense because they are still in the internship program. This is the result of power abuse from their managers, especially women tend to subordinate themselves when they are in a lower position. Most importantly, they were also confused as the product of mainly tourism sector is “Service” so when they were abused sexually even in verbal communication, they mostly did not know how to plead theirselves due “Customer Satisfaction” was the initial KPI to succeed their jobs. Another effort that we made this year is creating a safe space—peer counseling for survivors of sexual violence in the tourism industry which we held in the first quarter of 2022. 


In the third round, Lita Hutapea, an Advisor of WTID, delivered several points in regards to WTID's future preferences and expectations for tourism recovery. She remarked that an Integrated and holistic Policy for women to have access to funding, education, networking, and natural resources management are the key to success of empowerment to outcome the recovery due to covid has previously restricted them in underprivileged access to obtain face to face education and networking. 


Given the case mentioned, we can expect that we need digital transformation or transition for women in accessing inclusive education especially in grassroots to have a better understanding about branding, sales, marketing and promotion. We can be optimistic by emphasizing women’s skill and education. In 1-2 years onwards, we can expect improvements in women’s skill and competitiveness on MSMEs in order to encourage creative economy, developing and adding value to local products (i.e gastronomy, spa, or local herbs).

Nevertheless, to achieve the goals we expected, Lita tried to explain 2 issues and challenges that we may encounter in the future actions as below:

  1. How encourage women in grassroots can create creative funding to support tourism development

  2. How to measure indicators of sustainability in women equity


Hence, as an NGO that has a strong concern to protect gender equality, we need to strengthen policy and practices by enhancing collaborations, comprehensive actions and expanding awareness to achieve an immediate outcome in the post COVID-19 pandemic.

Reported by Anindwitya R Monica

Edited by Laras C. Laksi