Valued, Paid, Recognized

Desk Review of Business Efforts in Promoting Women’s Empowerment in the Mekong Hospitality and Tourism Sector

The purpose of this desk review is to provide a landscape of “good practices” among business-led initiatives for womenʼs empowerment in the Mekong hospitality and tourism sector.

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The hospitality and tourism (H&T) sector is a major driver of economic growth and employment in the Mekong Region, with pre-COVID-19 annual international arrivals totaling around $50million, expenditure up to $67billion, and jobs provided to around 10 million people.

More than half of those working in the H&T sector in the region are women, often young, low-skilled, and lacking in education.

The H&T sector, despite being a major employer of women, is characterised by deep-rooted gender inequities, stereotypes, and discrimination, detracting womenʼs opportunities for decent work, equal pay, and representation in decision-making roles.

Globally, the sector is not immune to gendered divisions of quality work, however, each region has varying levels of success and progress in ensuring equal outcomes for women.

Progress and empowerment for women in the H&T sector in the Mekong region are held back by entrenched social norms, unequal economic development and lack of government support or pressure.

It has been widely demonstrated that investing in women and taking strides to ensure their equal participation in the economy and job market not only brings great returns on investment but recoups the lost potential economic contribution of women. Beyond this, there is a clear moral imperative that women should be able to enjoy the same opportunities as men, free from discrimination, unequal treatment and exploitative work.

Conducted by Plan International, in collaboration with ASSET-H&C, this desk review has been conducted to scope out good and emerging practices among employers that support womenʼs empowerment in the H&T sector. The findings feed into a working paper that Plan International has also developed, which articulates the business case for empowering women in the H&T sector.

The research is guided by the question: “What good practices have enterprises adopted in the H&T sector in the Mekong region to promote the economic empowerment of women workers, especially young women?”

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