Beyond Bias to Greatness

We are all called upon to break the existing biases in order to attain the heights that all women ought to get to, in an engendered world.

By Dr. Joan J. W. Gathungu

Women are created different from their male brothers, partners and colleagues. Women play a pivotal role in society. From the family setting to society making, from nurturing roles to educational foundations, women are the real change agents. Yet, these pivotal role is often overlooked in relation to the boardroom coups that move the world. The world is slowly recognizing women as change setters and agents. Women’s role in the spheres of decision-making, societal contribution, religious and environmental roles are growing. Previously, bias against women was understood from the context of job opportunities, decision-making opportunities, economic activities and also the resource allocation centre of politics. Today, bias against women is seen in the context of sexuality, gender roles, decision-making, ownership of property and sustainability.

Women are seen as the bedrock of stable communities. To this end, women headed households, women in education, women in resource allocation positions, women in security, women in healthcare among other areas are increasing by the day. Any progressive society has to rethink the role that women play in society. And this is the hallmark of gender equality where it is understood and valued that we were all made to fulfil certain roles to ensure a balance in society. Any society that disregards this ageless wisdom will soon find herself devalued.

We celebrate achievements

World over, gender shifts have arisen. Women head powerful nations today. A good example is former president Angela Merkel of Germany. UNEP is headed by a woman and so do many other international organizations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Young ladies such as Yousafzi Malala and Greta Thurnberg are also leading the way for the next generation in equality and environmental sustainability.

Kenya has not been left behind. The country has made great strides in the effort to break the bias against women. From the country’s first Chief Justice, to Governors of county governments and Cabinet secretaries at the echelons of government and governance, women are well represented. To more nurturing related roles in education and education, women are well positioned. In our communities, women engage in decision-making and are thus determining the future of their societies.

Truly, we are happy to celebrate the achievements of the 21st century world over, this International Women’s Day.

Is this enough for women?

A better question is, is it ever enough? Can we as a society get to a point of balance? The answer is yes. Women at all levels could rise and overcome bias and barriers at their level. From the househelp who still cannot earn maternity leave, to the school teacher who still cannot nurse her child at the work place, to the government officials who are still a payscale below their male counterparts or are often bypassed during promotions due to their dual roles in society.

What is in it for women in tourism?

Women bring their compassionate nature into the tourism industry. It is time the industry embraced this unique trait that enhances customer engagement and relations. It is time this trait was valued and placed, possibly way above the often overvalued male aggression for business. This is to say, that women have massive opportunities in tourism based on their gender.

Women employed in tourism, like their counterparts in other economic sectors, also stand at the cuff where biases are being broken. Today, they enjoy leadership positions, decision making roles and corner offices. The ceiling is no longer set for them, they create their ceiling. From determining what job opportunities to take, to a global education that is non-discriminative, to equal opportunities with their male counterparts, women are thriving. Today, the opportunities to challenge biases also are entrenched in societal structures through an education system that teaches equality, work place policies that protect women and male genders alike, legislation that promotes the agenda of all beings regardless of their gender and a global system that promotes the uniqueness of each gender, yet the interdependence of both genders.

Covid-19 was a turning point for women in tourism. How so? Women are now better placed to run enterprises since Covid-19 normalised working from remote locations. This has led to lower investment for tourism outfits since space and employee bills are much lower when we work remotely. Women, who traditionally have had challenges accessing capital, can today tap into possibilities in the virtual realm.

Pass the mantle

Women in tourism have the unique challenge to nurture a new crop of girls in tourism, who will advance the role that women must play for sustainable tourism. We need to move from the age of awareness to the age of action. By so doing, our girls will be taught how sexuality biases limit sustainability in tourism, lower pay and work grades inhibit ideas and growth in tourism, male dominated decision making limits innovation and sustainability in tourism. Women ought to fight stereotypes, discrimination and any forms of biases through work place practices and policies, lobbying for engendered legislation and regular societal based activities through associations such as Kenya Women in Tourism. Thus, today’s woman in tourism has the role to pass on the burning torch, to an eager younger population that will light our villages, our societies and our globe.

The quest to engender tourism industry

This is the time to engender the industry to allow all, regardless of their gender equal opportunities. Women can still enjoy their natural gender equipped traits and thrive! It is time for women to create and tell their story in their own voice.

Viva to all women making it possible to achieve the 10 per cent contribution from tourism to the national economy. This article is for you, all of us who wake up each day, balance our dual roles to propagate society and to move the tourism sector to new heights each day. It is to all the women who are nurturing a new empowered crop, the younger girls, that will not only advance the gains we have achieved, but continually break the existing biases in order to attain the heights that all women ought to get to, in an engendered world.

Joan J. W. Gathungu is a Mother and Educationist.

1 Comment
March 8, 2022

Indeed we need to move from the age of awareness to the age of action! I celebrate you Joan my friend, sister, colleague, and source of inspiration. I celebrate you always! Happy international women’s day

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