Author(s): Celine Magneche Nde Sika
The tourism and hospitality industry struggles with the consequences of the pandemic that had crashed headlong into it, forcing many businesses in this sector to close doors until further notice, after sending many workers and owners of businesses that depended on it home. Among these victims, women, who make up most workers in the industry, pay the highest price because of gender imbalances that limit their career opportunities and the development of their families, communities and countries. This paper reports on a study of women’s perspectives on the impact of the Covid-19 on hotel service providers in Kenya. Drawing on data from 50 women we interviewed, the findings illustrate the persistent gendered obstacles women experience as they try and negotiate careers in the tourism and hospitality businesses where they are clustered by the iron glass ceiling in low-skilled or unskilled jobs, with no opportunity to sit at decision-making tables where their voice can be heard, deprived of business opportunities, and exposed to all kinds of risks. The pandemic had shed more light on these inequalities, and given a wonderful opportunity to stakeholders in the industry to correct this unacceptable situation. Social Corporate Responsibility programs are a useful tool that businesses in the sector can use to connect women’s potential to possibilities in the tourism and hospitality industry and help them overcome gendered barriers to progression. It can also help to rebuild the collapsed tourism industry and sustainable destinations as well because, when these women who play a significant role in this industry are ready and equipped with the right tools, and are given opportunities, they deliver better results and contribute to creating a safer and healthier environment that today customers and travellers crave.