PHOTO: Sana leads groups to the Taj Mahal. (photo by David Cogswell)
On International Women’s Day, it’s important to recognize and empower the women who have a major impact on tourism and a report highlighting intrepid female tour guides in India who are crushing societal norms is one great example.
Sana leads a tour group through Old Delhi and Agra, negotiating transportation and navigating the bustling city streets. It is a job that is usually reserved for men, but Sana is breaking ground with tour operator Intrepid Travel, which is empowering women by giving them access to jobs usually reserved for their male counterparts.
“Around 67 percent of our clients are women and women make up about 60 percent of our workforce, but we noticed only 20 percent of tour leaders were female, so we decided to do something about it and actively recruit,” Intrepid CEO James Thornton tells the Guardian.
Today, the company has 11 female guides out of 67. Last year, there were just three. While the numbers are coming up, seeing women leading a tour group is still a rarity.
“Men find it hard to believe an Indian woman is in charge of a group of foreigners – some disapprove, some are just surprised, but it’s something we face a lot,” Sana tells Guardian writer Jane Dunford.
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Sana leads groups all over India and tells Dunford that “it’s the confidence, sense of self-reliance, economic independence and feeling of being truly alive" when she travels that she values.
Read more on Sana and other female guides in India here.