Women Enacting Their Gender Roles to get (dis)empowerment through Tourism in Tanzania

By Nelly Bisanda
My research addresses women (dis)empowerment through tourism. In many developing countries, including Tanzania, tourism is argued to be one of the key sectors in economic development; an area contributing to poverty reduction and promoting the Millennium Development Goals, including the empowerment of women.

Tourism development processes have been claimed to be constructed by unequal gender relations that subordinate women by their tendency of domesticating their position. Scientific research to date has been primarily focused on exposing those structural inequalities. Yet, the emerging post-structuralist debates in gender studies in tourism reveal that gender stereotyping further victimizes women by not giving space for acknowledging the power of their human agency.

The objective of this study is to go beyond structuralist perspectives and explore the power of women’s agency in shaping, resisting, negotiating or reproducing existing structural conditions. Theoretically, these complex dialectical processes will be captured by applying the concept of enactment that is scientifically recognized to be a powerful analytical framework to capture the way gender roles are enacted in terms of what women think, experience and do. Tourism is the context in which their (dis)empowerment and the structures they negotiate will be explored. The research compares women employed in tourism businesses and those who have established their own small and medium enterprises. The study is done in Zanzibar, an Islamic dominated society endowed by attractions that entice the substantial tourists inflow and tourism business. 

prof.dr. VR (Rene) van der Duim
dr. KBM (Karin) Peters