Intrepid Group has more than doubled its number of female tour leaders in just two years, reaching the goal six months early.
During an impassioned speech at our Women in Travel Awards last night, the company’s general manager for sub-Saharan Africa, Mehalah Beckett, said the number of female tour leaders employed by Intrepid has gone from 153 to 314 since the goal was set.
Why did Intrepid set such an ambitious goal? The answer is in the numbers.
According to Beckett, 70 per cent of those in poverty are female, despite making up 48 per cent of the overall population.
Women work two-thirds of the world’s working hours, produce half of the world’s food, but earn only 10 per cent of the world’s income and own less than one per cent of the world’s property. On average, women earn half of what men earn.
“Who says numbers are dry? Statistics can light a fire in you,” she said.
As she stood on stage, Beckett, a powerhouse of a woman who dedicated most of her life to working in development economics in Africa, expressed the imposter syndrome she felt throughout her career.
“The economist cadre in the Civil Service was rather male-dominated and I admit I felt rather inferior most of the time, constantly feeling like a fake,” she said.
When she finally left her job, fed up with the slow pace of change through political means, she thought Intrepid would laugh at her CV, that she was vastly underqualified.
“But I’d read that men apply for a job when they meet only 60 per cent of the qualifications, so I thought I’d challenge myself to be just like them,” she said.
She told the packed room of travel industry folk that she made the switch to tourism because she realised she could affect more change working through working on real-life initiatives that change social and economic constructs.
“And the way to do that directly, efficiently and quickly? Tourism.
“The best way a person, family or community can escape poverty is to secure a sustainable livelihood.
“It’s businesses that needs to create the jobs – good jobs – that provide productive work for communities and women to escape poverty and reduce inequality.”
When our CEO is asked about a ‘Men in Travel Awards’, he usually responds with “It’s every day mate.” But really, we hold the Women in Travel Awards because of people like Beckett and companies like Intrepid. We hold them for all the wonderful women who make up our industry – even the ones who weren’t in the room last night.
And another massive thank you to our sponsors! We couldn’t have done it without you.