A message from chairman of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association, Renée Coppin, on the occasion of International Women’s Day 2022.
Theme: Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow – #BreakTheBias
As I reflect on this year’s theme, I am particularly proud to be a part of an industry, which a World Travel and Tourism Council 2019 report states, “…has almost twice as many female employers than other sectors” and which, “…provides women with more opportunities for workforce participation, leadership, entrepreneurship and empowerment than many other sectors, particularly in developing countries”.
Tourism continues to be a critical sector in the development of Barbados’ economy, and we are also proud of its track record in contributing to a more equitable and just society. We can witness daily the sterling contributions made by women across so many areas of tourism from the heart of operations such as housekeeping to our Minister of Tourism in government leadership.
As a business owner and operator of small hotels, I am heartened by statistics from the Small Hotels of Barbados, which reports that 51 per cent of member entities are women-owned or led.
While we have an exciting story to tell, we must not ever become complacent nor apathetic in our pursuit of the continuation of this positive narrative. Barbados is a small, open economy that is highly susceptible to external shocks.
The role of increasing female ownership and employment will therefore continue to be critical to ensuring the quality of life as we have known it. There can be absolutely no denial that increasing female employment and ownership plays a role in creating greater participation while supporting sustainable economic growth and poverty reduction.
On the day that one of the local media houses announced my election as the second female Chair of the BHTA, I was honoured to be presented beneath an article about 106-year-old Barbadian, Myril Howell. I was struck that throughout her life she had faced numerous challenges and, in so doing, assumed many roles including wife, mother, seamstress, small farmer and teacher in her church.
Like us she faced pandemic, unrest and war and did so with tenacity, resolve and good judgment. It is women such as Mrs Howell, who while seeking to progress their families and communities, have laid the foundation for us to be able to pursue our dreams. We must ensure that we continue to build on that foundation for the next generation.
We therefore go forward, fully embracing today’s challenge, which is to provide equal access and opportunities to all so that we safeguard a brighter tomorrow.
Happy International Women’s Day!