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Gender equality in tourism enterprises

Champions from the Kangchenjunga Landscape

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Tourism is an important priority area for national and local governments across Bhutan, India, and Nepal. Community-based tourism – the homestay in particular – is an entrepreneurial domain in which women of all ages contribute with direct benefits to homestay operators and indirect benefits to farmers, dairy producers, retail and souvenir shop owners and workers, and transport workers along the supply chain. Four women from locations across Bhutan, India, and Nepal serve as champions of gender equality within this work across the Kanchenjunga Landscape: Phub Wangmo of the Kinley Wangchuk Homestay in Haa, Bhutan; Winona Lepcha of the Yealbong Lee Homestay, in Dzongu, Sikkim, India; Lila Devi Bhattarai of the Maipokhari Deurali Community Homestay in Ilam, Nepal; and Aayusha Prasain of the Community Homestay Network, Nepal.

PHUB WANGMO (HAA, BHUTAN)

Gender equality is about shared social responsibilities and accountability

Taking equal responsibility for tasks like bedmaking, cooking, receiving guests, and hospitality, Phub and her husband are explicit about the importance of an equal division of labour while running their homestay. Through the exposure many women have received in operating their homestays, the participation of women across Bhutan in local government has also increased.

WINONA LEPCHA (SIKKIM, INDIA)

Gender equality is about addressing barriers of youth, especially women

Like so many HKH youth, Winona wondered what to do with her newly minted degree after graduation. Leaving aside job opportunities in her field of engineering, she chose to return to her home village and joined her family homestay business. Today, she is the owner of the homestay where she makes all the financial and operational decisions.

But Winona moved not just back home but also out of her comfort zone, taking to the internet to promote her family’s homestay business, building a YouTube following of 2.6K. She helped to put her small village of Dzongu in North Sikkim on the map and in the meanwhile inspired thousands of youths with her authentic voice.

LILA DEVI BHATTARAI (ILAM, NEPAL)

Gender equality is about modelling women’s leadership both politically and for economic empowerment

Lila walks the walk when it comes to promoting women’s leadership. She proposed that women should move beyond their previously limited roles to take the lead in managing homestays resulting in an all-women Maipokhari Homestay Management Committee in Ilam, Nepal.

She is chairperson of the Committee herself, continuing to lead through example, playing a vital role in securing homestay development funds allocated by the local government, and enjoying recognition in the form of a recent appointment as the Vice Chair of the Homestay Association of Nepal from her province.

AAYUSHA PRASAIN (NEPAL)

Gender equality is about amplifying gender-responsive thinking and approaches for inclusive tourism development

At the young age of 30, Aayusha is the Chief Executive Officer of the Community Homestay Network (CHN). She focuses on strengthening CHN as an organisation, scaling its impact, bringing local actors into the tourism value chain, and supporting gender equality through choosing partners who adopt gender-responsive thinking and approaches. With deep roots within local communities, Aayusha and her CHN team are promoting responsible and inclusive tourism.

Four women from locations across Bhutan, India, and Nepal serve as champions of gender equality within this work across the Kanchenjunga Landscape

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