As Women’s month comes to an end, we feel the need to reflect on the place and position that women have in Adventure. The significance of women in adventure is multifaceted and encompasses various aspects, including social, cultural, and individual perspectives.
National Women’s Day (and Women’s Month for that matter) in South Africa carries great significance within the context of women in adventure and broader gender equality. Celebrated on August 9th annually, this day commemorates the 1956 Women’s March, a pivotal moment in South Africa’s history when thousands of women from all racial backgrounds protested against discriminatory pass laws imposed during apartheid.
This historic march shattered stereotypes about women’s roles and abilities. By actively participating in political protest, women defied gender-based expectations and showcased their determination and strength. The Women’s March empowered South African women by giving them a united voice and a platform to demand change. Their actions played a crucial role in reshaping societal norms and asserting women’s influence in shaping the country’s future. The courageous women who took part remain enduring role models for women within South Africa and beyond. Their bravery and resilience continue to inspire women to challenge conventions and pursue their dreams, whether in adventurous pursuits or other fields.
The Women’s March shed light on the pressing need for gender equality across various facets of society, including politics, economics, and social dynamics. National Women’s Day stands as a reminder of the ongoing fight for gender parity and the significance of addressing systemic bias. While this day primarily focuses on social and political dimensions, it underscores the importance of women’s well-being and their entitlement to health and respect – a principle that extends to all aspects of life.
Similar to adventure activities that foster cross-cultural understanding, the Women’s March brought together women from diverse backgrounds, united by a shared cause. This even cultivated a sense of unity and solidarity among women representing different races and ethnicities. It was not devoid of challenges, as participants encountered opposition and potential consequences for their actions. Their collective resilience and determination in the face of adversity mirror the challenges often confronted by women adventurers during their own journeys today.
National Women’s Day underscores the significance of inclusivity and equitable representation, values that align with the objective of fostering more inclusive spaces within the adventure community today.
Promoting young women’s participation in the adventure-based learning and adventure tourism industries in South Africa involves a combination of strategies aimed at raising awareness, providing support, and fostering an inclusive and empowering environment.
We could possibly do this by:
Increased Visibility and Representation: by highlighting successful women who are already established in the industry as role models, sharing their stories, achievements, and challenges, we can inspire and motivate young women to consider adventure-based careers.
Educational Outreach: by collaborating with schools, colleges, and universities to introduce adventure-based learning and adventure tourism as viable career options, conducting workshops, seminars, and presentations, we can showcase the variety of roles available, and the skills required.
Mentorship Programmes: by joining and establishing mentorship initiatives where experienced women professionals can guide and support young women entering the industry, these mentors can provide advice, share experiences, and help navigate challenges.
Skills Development: by offering specialized training programmes and courses tailored to young women interested in adventure-based careers, we can focus on building both technical skills (e.g., outdoor activity skills, safety procedures) and soft skills (e.g., communication, leadership, problem-solving). This includes the value of building resilience and mental toughness, which are essential in adventure-based careers. Overcoming challenges can lead to personal and professional growth.
Internships and Apprenticeships: through the provision of opportunities for young women to gain practical experience through internships and apprenticeships, hands-on learning can help them understand the industry, develop skills, and make informed career choices.
Networking Events: by organizing networking events, conferences, and meetups where young women can connect with professionals in the adventure-based learning and tourism sectors, we could lead these young women to valuable connections and insights.
Promoting Diversity and Inclusion: by emphasizing the importance of a diverse workforce in creating dynamic and innovative teams, we showcase the benefits of having women’s perspectives and skills in adventure-related roles.
Showcasing Success Stories: by regularly sharing success stories of young women who have thrived in the adventure industry, we highlight their journeys, accomplishments, and all the hard work they have put in to succeed.
Partnerships with Women’s Organizations: by collaborating with women’s organizations, NGOs, and advocacy groups, like Summits with a Purpose, we can raise awareness about opportunities in the adventure industry. Joint efforts can amplify messages and reach a wider audience.
Safe and Supportive Environment: to create an environment that is welcoming, safe, and supportive for young women, we need to address concerns related to safety, gender dynamics, and any potential obstacles that may discourage participation.
Promote Work-Life Balance: by showcasing careers in adventure-based learning and tourist can offer unique work-life balance opportunities, which allow individuals to immerse themselves in nature and have families, all while pursuing fulfilling careers.
Engage through Social Media: to not utilize social media in anything you do is a big mistake. We can share inspiring content, industry news, and resources targeting young women on various social media platforms. By using social media and engaging in conversations we can create a supportive online community.
In a world of endless possibilities, where women’s voices and achievements reverberate across generations, the significance of women in adventure emerges as a profound force of change. As we bid farewell to Women’s Month, it’s a time to reflect on the remarkable journey of women in adventure and their enduring impact on society. From the pivotal moments in history, like the resolute footsteps of the 1956 Women’s march, to the contemporary challenges and triumphs faced by today’s trailblazing adventurers, we are beckoned to challenge ourselves to take a stance.
Let us embrace a future where young women are not only encouraged to join the adventure-based learning and tourism industries but are empowered to rewrite the narrative of what’s possible. By supporting, mentoring, and nurturing their ambitions, we create a world where gender equality isn’t just a dream but an exhilarating reality.
The path may be demanding, but it’s the journey of a lifetime – one that invites all of us to rise to the occasion and stand strong for women in adventure. After all, it’s in these intrepid footsteps that we pave the way for a more inclusive, vibrant, and daring world.