Caribbean women are being celebrated for their tremendous efforts in helping the region’s countries and territories combat and recover from the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis.
In a statement marking International Women’s Day on March 8, 2021, Vanessa Ledesma, Acting CEO and Director General of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), called for a greater commitment to equality, asserting that Caribbean women have been at the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis, working tirelessly to ensure hotel and tourism facilities and communities remain safe and secure during the pandemic.
“Our colleagues in the tourism and hospitality sectors are exemplary and effective leaders in protecting our destinations and strengthening our communities during this extraordinary time,” Ledesma stated.
“Many of them worked with significantly reduced resources for much of the pandemic … they should be recognized alongside their colleagues in health care, caregiving, and community organizing for their effective mobilization to resist the pandemic.”
Observing this year’s theme, “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world”, Ledesma noted that while the tourism sector in the Caribbean has made strides in recognizing the value of women, more remains to be done to build an effective enabling environment for women to assume more leadership positions: “The responses of the region’s tourism sector to the crisis reinforce our contention that the different experiences, perspectives and skills women bring to the table strengthened markedly the Caribbean containment of the novel coronavirus.”
According to the United Nations, the majority of countries that have been more successful in stemming the tide of COVID-19 and responding to its health and broader socioeconomic impacts are headed by women.
For instance, Heads of Government in Denmark, Ethiopia, Finland, Germany, Iceland, New Zealand and Slovakia have been widely recognized for the rapidity, decisiveness and effectiveness of their national response to COVID-19, as well as the compassionate communication of fact-based public health information. Despite these impressive facts, women are Heads of State and Government in only 20 countries worldwide, with only a handful of females holding such positions in the Caribbean.
Ledesma noted that gender diversity at all levels of management and leadership positions also provides competitive advantages. “This has been confirmed during the pandemic response, so we need to create the right conditions to ensure the outstanding contribution of women to the health and safety of the region will be enlisted and installed in the highest executive levels of hospitality and tourism organizations,” she stated, adding that CHTA continues to invest in the next generation of female leaders through its Young Leaders Forum initiative.
According to the CHTA leader it is time to move “forward together” beyond COVID-19: “We have to tap into the wealth of experience and strength women have displayed during this global crisis, and we must ensure the perspectives of women are integrated into the formulation and implementation of policies and programs at all stages of the ongoing pandemic response as well as our recovery.”