Sixteen women in tourism have graduated from the Executive Development Programme (EDP), which is run by the UNISA Graduate School for Business Leadership in Pretoria.
Tourism Minister Tokozile Xasa and Telecommunications Deputy Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams on Thursday officiated at the graduation ceremony of the 16 women.
The Executive Development Programme for Women in Tourism is an initiative of the Department of Tourism, in partnership with UNISA, to empower women and build an inclusive, highly competitive and sustainable tourism sector.
Women make up nearly 70% of the workforce within the industry. However, there is a stark underrepresentation of women in senior positions, with women holding less than 40% of all managerial positions, less than 20% of general management roles and between five and eight percent of board positions.
According to the South African UN representative, women in Ghana contribute almost 56% to the GDP, while South Africa is at about 30%, said Minister Xasa.
The Executive Development Programme is a response to research indicating that there is a low percentage of women at board and executive management levels due to the unavailability of women managers with the required profile within the tourism industry.
The aim of the Department of Tourism is to capacitate women and redress the skewed socio-economic landscape of the tourism industry.
The participation of women at a decision-making level in tourism is incredibly low, especially considering the high participation levels at lower and entry level.
Our Women in Tourism Programme is anchored on the pillars of representation, recognition, reward and respect. The promotion of gender equality and women's empowerment is central to government's efforts to combat poverty and stimulate sustainable development, said Minister Xasa.
Programme improves employment prospects
The programme has yielded visible outcomes, as five of the women received promotion to senior management positions at their respective companies since being part of the course.
Through UNISA, graduates participating in the Executive Development Programme were equipped with management skills to have the confidence to start and grow their own tourism businesses and create a pool of black industrialists for the future.
The programme was launched in 2016 and in the recruitment of its first intake, attracted hundreds of eligible women from around the country. After recruitment, 20 women were selected to partake in this programme.
Many of the skills development programmes offered by the department, especially through the Social Responsibility Implementation Funding and these programmes, remain open for women in tourism to tap into.
We encourage women to look into the available funding options that target women in tourism like the National Empowerment Fund and many others, said Minister Xasa.
Source: South African Government News Agency