Last week I was in Dubai for the unveiling of the first ever pavilion dedicated to women at a world fair – the Women’s Pavilion by Expo 2020 Dubai in collaboration with Cartier. It’s hard to describe the sheer impact of this event, for this phenomenal exhibition invites visitors to celebrate and recognize the central role that women have played globally throughout history. Driven by a common conviction that sustainable global development goals and aspirations for a peaceful and prosperous world cannot be achieved without gender equality and women’s empowerment, the Pavilion successfully amplifies an important principle: when women thrive, humanity thrives. From the Pavilion’s five awe-inspiring structures (each with different narratives curated by five female change-makers) which left me moved and inspired, to the incredible words of poet, activist and UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Emi Mahmoud at the opening inauguration, I was reminded once more that for many women and girls, their very existence is an act of defiance. I’m more determined than ever to do all I can to help create environments where every woman and girl can thrive.
As a business, we at ROAR AFRICA work hard to help redefine the role of women in Africa’s traditionally male-dominated safari industry – and we love nothing more than observing the ripple effect this has both on the continent’s broader community and of course the world at large. Imagine our excitement two weeks ago when we received news that a feature on our last Women’s Empowerment Retreat (that took place in Kenya earlier this year) had made it onto Goop, a 2.5-million strong community of like-minded women which personifies the culture of empowerment we’re striving towards.
Redefining the role of women
For our part, our mission is to celebrate those women who challenge the status quo every day. It is what led to the initial creation of this journey by way of the very many interested and interesting women who choose to travel with us every year to some of Africa’s most wild and uninhabited spaces. Over the last three years, the collaborative, supportive and inspiring spirit born out of these retreats has changed not only the lives of those women we have met on the ground but irrevocably changed the way we choose to do business too.
Our commitment to change perceptions by helping to raise awareness and redefine the role of women across society has informed every one of our Women’s Empowerment Retreats thus far. Our next Women’s Empowerment Retreat from February 19 to 25, 2022, promises to be just as influential. Hosted by myself and award-winning producer, journalist, businesswoman and gender activist Pat Mitchell, our next Empowerment Journey will take place in the spectacular central African country of Rwanda. As a way of offering a glimpse of where we are going, what we have planned and who will be joining us on this all-female retreat, we are thrilled to share this short video with you.
The need to improve gender equality extends to virtually all of tourism’s related industries which is why, back in 2019, we applauded IATA’s announcement of its inspired 25by2025 global initiative. This voluntary campaign that seeks to change the gender balance within the aviation industry targets not only airlines but aircraft manufacturers, aviation-service providers and airports too. Essentially, it aims to increase the number of women that hold senior positions in under-represented areas by 25% or up to a minimum of 25% by 2025, and we were proud to note that Kenya Airways was the first major aviation signatory in Africa to sign up for this campaign.
What’s more, according to the Stichting Equileap Foundation Report, Kenya Airways was one of just six leading companies in Kenya which has shown an outstanding commitment to workplace gender equality. It is also the only African airline to have achieved gender balance. Bravo! And with the signup for 25by2025 currently sitting at close on 90% of aviation industry players, it’s yet another compelling reason to feel hopeful and do more.
The wheels of change are turning
In Africa, the tide is definitely turning. Rwanda is the only African country to have a woman at the helm of its national carrier, RwandAir. We are delighted that RwandAir CEO, Yvonne Manzi Makolo, will join us next year as one of our speakers, along with fellow Rwandan Ariella Kageruka (the female head of tourism and conservation at Rwanda’s Development Board), Lydia Nzayo, Singita’s first female general manager and a true mentor for women in the safari industry, and Professor Agnes Binagwaho, Rwanda’s former Minister of Health, pediatrician and Vice Chancellor of the University of Global Health Equity, who was named among Avance Media’s 2020 List of the 100 Most Influential Women in Africa. This powerhouse of dynamic Rwandan female speakers is a true testament to Rwanda’s status as a world leader in terms of its representation of women in parliament. And we couldn’t be prouder to host them all as part of our Women’s Empowerment Retreat in the very country where they are affecting the most positive change.
Also among the speakers will be Claire Bradbury, a Chartered Environmentalist, lawyer and wellbeing specialist, whose recently released book, Dwellbeing, is a must-read for anyone who cares about the community and collective health of our cities, our planet and consequently ourselves. Last but by no means least, we are hugely honored to have Corie Knights with us, too. Corie is the chief fundraiser for the extraordinary international conservation organization WildAid, which leverages more than $289 million in annual pro-bono media support for their work. The organization’s many significant accomplishments include a ban of all domestic sales of ivory in China, and rhino horn prices dropping by 70% in Vietnam and China, while their partnership with the African Wildlife Foundation has helped reduce the number of people in Vietnam who believe rhino horn can cure cancer by 73%. Corie will share some of her many adventures with us, and the passion which underpins the millions of dollars she has raised to enable WildAid’s conservation programs.
If you are interested in our Women’s Empowerment Retreat for 2023 please let us know. 2022 is sold out with a waitlist. If you’d like more information, do not hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org