Wanawake Tanzania – empowering women through tourism

Wanawake Tanzania – empowering women through tourism

Tanzania, as loyal friends and followers of EiT may have guessed by now, has a special place in our heart. This is why we are particularly pleased to be able to share the following story about an inspiring tourism-led initiative to empower women in this exceptional country.

Adventure Alternative is, as the name may suggest, an alternative tour operator offering adventure holidays with a difference and an emphasis on its ethics of responsibility. Its current initiative aims to empower women on Mount Kilimanjaro by providing employment and ensuring their salary and rights are the same as everyone else. Not only this, but in a first for the local industry, the operator is planning to run trips up the mountain with female-only guides and porters.

The development of Adventure Alternative’s Wanawake (Swahili for “women”) programme grew out of a chance exchange director Gavin Bate had with a female porter while guiding on the mountain. For a long while he had been trying to include women in his mountain team – to no avail because there simply weren’t any women mountain workers. So meeting Mariam came somewhat as a surprise to Gavin, and she strengthened his resolve all the more when she told him that only about 15 female porters and one woman guide were currently working on Kilimanjaro. Not only were there so few, those that had managed to break into the industry were being paid less than men for comparable work. With the extra costs of transport and renting equipment, net earnings for women could be as little as 15 dollars for a week’s work.

This encounter left an impression on Gavin and he offered Mariam a job on the spot, asking for some of her friends to join his next group the week after. Four of them ultimately worked on that particular trip and, importantly, were paid the full salary of 20,000 Tz Shilling per day plus travel expenses and no deductions. This amounts to a net weekly earning of 70 dollars plus tips of 30 dollars. To put that into perspective, a government teacher in Tanzania earns 120 dollars per month.

Adventure Alternative is keen to now capitalise on this positive initial experience, and employ women on all their trips, in addition to offering women-only trips up the mountain. The company also provides first aid training, clothing and equipment, and has developed a strong ethic of equality and empowerment across all of its eight trademarked companies around the world.

Similar initiatives in Nepal have proven to be not only popular but also effective in getting more women into profitable work. More than just a scheme to employ more women, the Wanawake Tanzania programme is a means to invest in their training and education, and sets an example for equitable employment over the long term.

Want to findo out more? Then watch the inspiring promotional video about Wanawake Tanzania to get a sense of scope of importance of this project.

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