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Monday,  April 15, 2024 8:23 AM 

#BreakTheBias: Here's what the travel industry is doing to mark International Women’s Day

  • Buzz
  •   03-08-2022  9:24 am
  •   Pax Global Media

#BreakTheBias: Here's what the travel industry is doing to mark International Women’s Day
Tuesday, March 8 is International Women's Day. (Shutterstock/Vikky Mir)
Pax Global Media

Today (March 8) marks International Women’s Day (IWD), a global annual event dedicated to celebrating the cultural, political, and socioeconomic achievements of women.

The theme of IWD 2022 is #BreakTheBias. What does that mean?

It means imagining a gender equal world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination, one that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive, where difference is valued and celebrated.

“Together we can forge women's equality. Collectively we can all #BreakTheBias,” reads a statement on IWD’s website.

Women continue to face many disadvantages, globally: biases that stop them from accessing education and opportunities, while leaving them vulnerable to violence and oppression.

“Whether deliberate or unconscious, bias makes it difficult for women to move ahead. Knowing that bias exists isn’t enough, action is needed to level the playing field," the IWD team says. 

To promote a message of equality in communities, workplaces, schools, and beyond, a social media campaign has been launched, urging the world to “strike the IWD #BreakTheBias pose” – crossing your arms to show solidarity in a picture or video.

Strike the IWD #BreakTheBias pose on International Women's Day 2022. (

Share your #BreakTheBias image, video, resources, presentation or articles on social media using #IWD2022 #BreakTheBias to encourage others to commit to helping forge an inclusive world.

For more information on IWD 2022, click here

Here’s a round-up of what some in the travel industry are doing to mark International Women’s Day 2022.

Air Canada has announced the 2022 recipients of the Captain Judy Cameron Scholarship as the airline continues fostering the next generation of women in non-traditional aviation careers.

The scholarship, named in honour of Air Canada's trailblazing first female pilot, recognizes young women pursuing aviation and aerospace careers as commercial pilots or aircraft maintenance engineers and who may not have the financial means to do so

"On International Women's Day, we celebrate and recognize the successes and achievements of the more than 14,500 women who work at Air Canada worldwide. Air Canada has taken a leadership position in cultivating diversity, equity and inclusion, and women are represented at every level and across all branches. Initiatives such as the Judy Cameron Scholarship work actively to 'break the bias' by supporting and encouraging the next generation of women in non-traditional aviation STEM careers. We firmly see the sky as having no limit for all qualified people. Congratulations to this year's winners!" said Arielle Meloul-Wechsler, executive vice-president, chief human resources officer and public affairs at Air Canada.

Judy Cameron, Boeing 777 Captain at Air Canada (retired), and Director, Northern Lights Aero Foundation, added: "As we continue to deal with the ongoing effects of the pandemic, it is particularly gratifying to see so many talented and determined young women, single-mindedly pursuing their careers in aviation. What makes these four women exceptional is their willingness and enthusiasm to be role models and mentors to encourage other women in their aviation journey.”

“Thanks to Air Canada for their continuing commitment to gender equity, diversity and inclusion.”  

Judy Cameron, Boeing 777 Captain at Air Canada (retired), and Director, Northern Lights Aero Foundation. (File photo)

The winners of the Captain Judy Cameron Scholarship, awarded in partnership with the Northern Lights Aero Foundation, each receive $5,000 toward their studies in aviation.

They are Tanisha Galway, a second-year student in the Aircraft Maintenance Engineering Program at College of the North Atlantic in Gander, Newfoundland; Winnie Ho, who just received her Group 1 IFR and is finishing the Integrated ATPL program at the Waterloo Wellington Flight Centre, while in her final year of the Science and Aviation Program at the University of Waterloo, Ontario; Alissa Stirling, who is in her final year of the Commercial Aviation Program at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta; Madeline Ungurain, who recently completed her flight Instructor training at Principal Air in Abbotsford, B.C. and is now working on her multi-engine Instrument rating. 

To learn more about the 2022 winners, watch Air Canada’s video about their achievements here.

Celebrity Cruises has announced that it has reached 32 per cent female bridge officers – "an industry high."

As part of this achievement – and to celebrate International Women’s Day – the company will be changing its iconic global “X” logo to “XX” for 24 hours on its social channels, and projecting the “XX” logo  onto Celebrity Beyond, in honour of the female chromosome.

Celebrity has a long history of championing gender equality in the traditionally male-dominated cruise industry — just 2 per cent of the world’s mariners are female.

In 2015, the company appointed Captain Kate McCue as the first – and still only – American female ship captain

On International Women’s Day 2020, the first all-female bridge and officer team departed on a history-making, barrier-breaking sailing

In June 2021, Captain Kate led the Celebrity fleet – and the industry – back into operation when Celebrity Edge became the first cruise ship to sail with guests from a U.S. port in more than a year.

In tourism, women are often concentrated in the lowest paid and lowest status jobs. "But it doesn’t have to be like this," says Contiki

"By opting to support female-led tourism experiences when we travel, the industry can give women opportunities they have genuine ownership over and amplify their voices. This can empower communities to #BreakTheBias, and have a lasting impact on societies – particularly in developing countries. In this sense, travel has a genuine ability – and responsibility – to level the playing field," the company said on Tuesday (March 8). 

This is why Contiki seeks out female-led community experiences for its clients. 

“MAKE TRAVEL MATTER Experiences give our guests the opportunity to make a positive social or environmental impact on the communities and places we visit,” says Contiki’s Sustainability officer Tasha Hayes. “Any opportunity to support or promote a female-led business or initiative is genuinely important alongside being an excellent learning opportunity for our travellers. We seek to demonstrate the great community benefits from travel and tourism while in turn educating our travellers on pressing global issues like women’s rights. Most importantly it’s about highlighting the actions being taken to address these issues and what they can do as advocates after finishing their Contiki trip." 

Iraq Al-Amir Women’s Co-operative in Jordan. (Contiki)

Among the many female-led MAKE TRAVEL MATTER experiences Contiki runs across the world include The Dhonk Centre, led by founder Divya Khandal, who created a beautiful opportunity for growth and change in her home of Ranthambhore, India, Real Country in New Zealand,  a workshop for young girls that teaches hunting skills, farming, basic construction, changing tires and jumpstarting vehicles and the Iraq Al-Amir Women’s Co-operative in Jordan which aims to teach and equip Jordanian women with new skills, business opportunities and greater financial independence.

Insight Vacations has launched a new 10-day itinerary, Inspiring Iceland, a Women’s-Only Tour as part of its Wander Women series of journeys created for women, by women.

The trip will take place in July 2023 offering experiences curated to the interests of female clients through unique Insight Experiences and encountering MAKE TRAVEL MATTER Experiences.

Guests will discover Iceland’s incredible natural beauty and traditions. They will journey across the land of fire and ice from the vibrant capital of Reykjavik to the vast plains of Thingellvir, exploring black sand beaches, glacier lakes, waterfalls and floating thermal pools.

Insight Vacations has launched a 10-day itinerary, Inspiring Iceland, a Women’s-Only Tour. (Supplied)

“For over a decade, Iceland has been recognized by the World Economic Forum as the world’s leading country for gender equality and on International Women’s Day, we support this year’s #BreaktheBias theme as we continue to celebrate women’s achievements and the local women who empower the communities we visit worldwide,” says Ulla Hefel Böhler, Global CEO for Insight Vacations and Luxury Gold. “We are thrilled to be offering our newest Wander Women premium tour to this outstanding destination where over 80 per cent of women make up part of the work force and our female guests will personally meet these inspiring Icelandic women who are creating equal opportunities and resources across their country.”

The tour is available with limited space and clients are encouraged to book early to secure their spot and join a diverse group of female guests from around the world.

For more info, click here.

Speaking of Iceland, Icelandair has arranged for an all-female flight to take place on Tuesday, in a long-standing tradition of the airline, dating back over 20 years to 1999.

Flight FI528 will depart Reykjavik (KEF) at 7:40am, landing at Berlin Brandenburg Airport (BER) at approximately 12:10 p.m.

On International Women’s Day 1999, an all-female flight crew on an Icelandair international flight took off. This year’s flight will once again include an all-female staff, cabin crew, pilot, co-pilot, and gate agents.

Icelandair is also aiming to be a global leader when it comes to improving gender equality in the world of aviation.


Today, women represent 40 per cent of the Board of Directors, 33 per cent of the Executive Management team (incorporating two new members starting shortly), 41 per cent of other management positions and 40 per cent of overall management positions.

In recent years, Icelandair has worked systematically towards progress on gender equality through its active gender equality programme and equal pay certification.

Icelandair is working to ensure an equal gender balance in management positions – never less than 40 per cent of either gender in management positions and to increase the number of female pilot positions by 25 per cent, the number of male cabin crew positions by 25 per cent and the number of female aircraft maintenance technicians by promoting the job and education to girls.

G Adventures is celebrating the appointment of 10 new female Chief Experience Officers (CEOs) in the Middle East and North Africa this International Women’s Day.

The new CEOs are based in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, and Oman, marking the first time the global operator and community tourism pioneer has female tour leaders in all destinations in the MENA region.

Soumia Ait Bendawad, regional operations manager for North Africa & Middle East, says growing the team in a way that supports women in the region is important as a means of fighting gender discrimination and to support women who want to enter the travel and tourism industry.

Preparing pastries in Meknes, Morocco. (G Adventures)

“As a woman working in the travel industry in Morocco, I understand the obstacles that we face every day. In many countries, including in the Middle East and North Africa, being a woman in the tourism industry is difficult, as women are seen as the primary caregivers and are expected to stay home and look after the children,” said Ait Bendawad.

“Having a job that requires you to travel away from home can also be seen as unacceptable or impossible. Being a female CEO in the MENA region is more than just a job, it is about taking a stand, challenging social norms, providing equal opportunities, and empowering women to be free to pursue their dreams.”

“Tourism - in particular community tourism - can be an incredible force for good. It’s helping to challenge social norms and views on gender roles as women continue to fight for their place in the travel industry, and to attain powerful positions once reserved for men.”

Community tourism supports women, Ait Bendawad said, especially rural women in the region.

“We have also worked with our non-profit partner, Planeterra, to establish powerful ‘G for Good’ projects across the Middle East and North Africa such as the AFER project (Association des femmes et des enfants ruraux) in Mhaya village, where travellers enjoy the local experience of a home cooked meal. As a result, the money helps support the entire community by providing literacy classes, pastry making classes, sewing cooperatives as well as medical assistance. These classes empower the women, helping them to read, write but also learn valuable skills, which opens up opportunities for them to sell their goods and create a sustainable source of income to support their families,” said Ait Bendawad.

For more info on G Adventures tours in the Middle East and North Africa, click here.

Intrepid Travel is reimagining its Women’s Expeditions tour range, which has been on hiatus since early 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic ceased international travel, by launching several new and newly redesigned tours for travellers.

Not only do the trips include some of the signature experiences from past trips – they will also introduce new destinations, experiences, be led and hosted by new women, and seek to help support and empower communities that have been deeply affected by the pandemic. 

Each Women’s Expedition trip will be guided by local female tour leaders and were created to break the barriers of traditional tourism, offering a deeper understanding of female culture in more conservative destinations that wouldn’t typically be feasible in mixed gender settings, and to challenge traditional gender boundaries in tourism, with the overall aim to encourage female empowerment and connect women from all walks of life.

After initially launching as a limited-edition range in 2018 with tours in Morocco, Jordan and Iran, the trips became some of "the most popular in the company’s 30+ year history, prompting Intrepid to add tours in Turkey, Kenya, India and Nepal in 2019," Intrepid said. 

Now in 2022, Intrepid will reintroduce them in countries that have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

Visiting the women of the Umasbamba community in the Sacred Valley of Peru. (Intrepid Travel)

Intrepid’s newly-reimagined Women’s Expeditions will include India Women’s Expedition, Iran Women’s Expedition, Jordan Women’s Expedition, Morocco Women’s Expedition and Peru Women’s Expedition. 

“Relaunching Women’s Expeditions is a significant and exciting step forward for Intrepid Travel, enabling us to continue our support for some truly inspirational women who rely on tourism to support themselves, their families and their communities – many of whom suffered greatly because of the COVID-19 pandemic and are eager to welcome tourists back,” said Erica Kritikides, general manager of global product at Intrepid Travel.

Skål International is honouring women's significant contributions to the tourism industry worldwide

The first woman president was elected by Skål International in 2002.

“In the past twenty years, the evolution of women in the tourism industry from a majority of the workers to top leadership roles has been a long and significant one,” the association said in a release. “Things have changed quite a bit since 2002 when Mary Bennett from Galway, Ireland, was elected to be the first woman world president of Skål International.”

Even though Skål International was formed in 1934, it was not until 2002 that a woman was able to reach its top leadership role, “an unfortunately typical pattern in the earlier days of the travel industry.”

Today, Burcin Turkkan, current world president of Skål International, is the seventh woman to occupy this position since 2002, “a clear indication that women have finally been recognized for their talents and leadership ability, thereby penetrating tourism and corporate leadership on a global level successfully.”

Burcin Turkkan, current world president of Skål International. (Supplied)

Skål International President Turkkan said "serving as the seventh and youngest female president of one of the world's largest travel and tourism organizations which has existed for over eight decades is a true honour. More than anything, I am proud to be the first female president from the United States on the Skål International Executive Board. This role comes with high responsibility, especially during the most unprecedented times we are now encountering, due to the residual impact of the pandemic and the recent armed conflict initiated by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.''

What is happening in Ukraine is also a women's issue to address on Women's Day 2022, she said. 

“I call on all women, especially those in Skål International, to join with all our Skålleagues to help affected families get through this crisis. The efforts of Skål International clubs adjacent to Ukraine, specifically our club in Bucharest, Romania, are to be commended. The Bucharest Skål International club is organizing to assist Ukrainian refugees to that city, already surpassing 100,000 people. Skål International is united in offering this humanitarian aid," said Turkkan.

Trafalgar has unveiled Women’s Only travel tours with a range of itineraries created by women, for women.

The company will be offering 13 new guided tours and exclusive departures which were created by female team members with itineraries across Europe, the United Kingdom and the Middle East including Egypt and Jordan.

In the past 12 months based on data and women’s travel trends, Trafalgar says it has seen a significant interest in women’s only tours as international destinations are ready to welcome back travellers.

Clients will share the joy of travel with like-minded female guests, all while exploring the world and connecting with inspiring women entrepreneurs, trail blazers and artisans in local communities.

The itineraries include an 11-day Italy Bellissimo guided tour and a 10-day Highlights of Turkey guided tour.

For more info on Trafalgar’s Women’s Only Travel Tours, and to view itineraries, click here.  

Women of Aviation Worldwide Week (WOAW), March 7-13, 2022, is a global aviation awareness week for girls of all ages observed to mark the anniversary of the world’s first female pilot license (March 8, 1910).

In recognition of the occasion, and International Women’s Day, WestJet asked its female employees a simple question: why would you encourage women to pursue a career in aviation?

The responses the women of WestJet submitted are encouraging and inspirational, signalling a bright future in the aviation sector. 

Click here to read all the submissions WestJet received.

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