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Workshop 3 Summary: Engaging Women Vendors in the Tourism Value Chain: Impacting Human and Economic Development

  • World Export Development Forum 2011


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    The Platform for Action on Sourcing from Women Vendors was launched at the 2010 WEDF as an outcome of the Senior Executive Round Table on Integrating Women into Global Value Chains. This year we move to focus on a particular sector – tourism – to explore what is being and could be done to link women in tourism to opportunities created through supplier diversity initiatives.

    The aim of the workshop was to build the confidence of participants in advocating the integration of women into global value chains by increasing understanding of:

    • The business case for sourcing from women vendors
    • The development case for sourcing from women vendors
    • The importance of identifying gender issues in value chains
    • New approaches to moving from strategy to action

    The main points of the discussion:

    • Speakers presented solid evidence and facts that supported and confirmed that there is a business case for sourcing from women vendors. In fact, multinational companies around the world such as Walmart and with an approximate purchasing power of US$ 700 billion have made sourcing from women vendors in least developed countries (LDCs) part of their standard operations. The panel concluded that the reasons behind this were purely related to improving the productivity and profitability of the business and were a cornerstone of the buyer firm’s operational, commercial and reputational strategy. The business case is therefore not only rooted in tourism but in related sectors such as agriculture. For example, Marriot buys handicrafts and foods from women vendors but now wants to buy buildings and comprehensive maintenance and catering services. Women are ready to compete and have outstanding entrepreneurial skills, and manage to see value where others do not, particularly related to creativity, service provision and quality of work.
    • The panel highlighted a strong development case for sourcing from women vendors in the tourism industry, as well as in other industries such as agriculture and manufacturing. In fact, in LDCs women represent 80% of agriculture employment and 72% of the agri-processing workforce (statistics from UN Women). In Uganda, women make up 42% of the country’s micro-entrepreneurs.
    • Speakers explained that the main gender-specific issues at the value chain integration and linkage level were first related to the fact that women’s perspectives, challenges and priorities were often different and were not captured or factored into the equation. Moreover, in LDCs women were often constrained and unable to participate in decision-making at all levels of the value chain. In particular, it was said that there was no gender sensitivity in policy-making, business operations, smallholder-level integration, and resource mobilization, and most importantly in development programme design and implementation. Other operational constraints in the value chain were linked to the above, for example in cases where women had unequal access to resources such as land, technology, credit, education and training, or market information.
    • The panel explored the need to factor in new practices and approaches in trade and socio-economic development, particularly from a value chain and business linkage point of view. The example of ITC’s gender sensitive value chain approach was mentioned as an innovative way to incorporate women’s integration at all levels and to link different actors in the chain to different market opportunities, in both the tourism and non-tourism sectors. The need to address education and human development challenges first and foremost, as well as market access and operational issues, was tabled, but to be catered specifically for women. This is a tool for women’s entrepreneurial empowerment, to help them grow and adopt new and improved roles in the value chain.
    • The example of Vanuatu was described as part of the proposed new approach, because policymakers had acknowledged the involvement of women and empowered them to become decision-makers and sit at the funding negotiation and allocation table. Vanuatu had set an example by confirming a gender-sensitive allocation of funding through the Enhanced Integrated Framework, earmarking at least 30% of tier 2 resources to women in business development related projects.
    • UN Women referred to negotiations with ITC towards an memorandum of understanding strengthening partnership between the two organizations. Business and Professional Women (BPW) International expressed interest in collaborating in support of integrating members in the Pacific into value chains.
    • ITC is also engaged with New Zealand and Australia and Carnival Cruise Lines to build a public-private partnership integrating more local vendors into their supply chain.