Although women make up over 60 per cent of the worldwide tourism workforce, they only account for 17 per cent of those in full-time employment or in management positions. For this reason the Secretary General of the World Tourism Organization UNWTO, Taleb Rifai, speaking at ITB Berlin, called on governments and the tourism industry to make gender equality part of their strategy. "It is not only a legal matter, but a business model", he stated, referring to the fact that the inclusion of women in management leads to improved performance in many areas.
"One cannot ignore half of the world and still believe that something significant has been achieved". It was with these words that Ajay Prakesh, President of the International Institute for Peace through Tourism (IIPT), began his speech celebrating the five winners of the "Global Awards for Empowered Women in Tourism", which are intended "to show that women are capable of making it to the top in tourism". The first such prize was introduced in India, and the fact that it now encompasses the whole world has given it a truly international dimension. It is an acknowledgment of the achievements being made in sustainability, education and the power of tourism to promote peace.