While the world celebrates International Women’s Day, it is important to recognize the tremendous contribution that women have made, are making, and will make to voluntourism. With nearly 80% of all voluntourists being female, the significance of their involvement at the community level, at the participant level, and at the facilitating level is beyond measure.
For those who may be wondering why women are such an integral part of voluntourism, there is still no clear cut answer. Hypotheses abound regarding the nurturing nature of women, their inclination to be of service to others, and their willingness and interest in traveling to places with which they are unfamiliar in an effort to make the situation for people living there just a little better.
I have spoken to many women over the years. Some have shed tears in reference to their voluntourism experiences. Some have told me about how much they have grown through their journeys. Some have shared with me how much it meant to them for visitors to come to their villages. And some have put forth great effort to ensure the integrity of voluntourism. These women have impacted me in many ways as I have watched either from afar or up close and personally their direct and indirect contributions to voluntourism. The world of voluntourism is all the better because women play such an integral part in it.
So, on this day of celebrating women around the world and what they have accomplished, the challenges they are facing – in quite a number of places, an uncertain future, we should all take a moment to honor how they have shaped voluntourism to become what it is today. And in seeing what women have done so far, can you imagine what voluntourism will look like ten years from now in 2023?