UNESCO and CHANEL empowering women in Madagascar through sustainable tourism

13 February 2018

A new programme aims to help women in Madagascar who have missed out on the economic benefits of growing tourism. 

Madagascar is one of the poorest countries in the world with the almost 80% of the population living on less than $1.90 a day. Tourism has grown significantly in recent years but the industry has often failed to translate into economic prospects for local communities, and, in particular, women.

UNESCO’s CapED Programme has been active in Madagascar since 2011 supporting the country’s vocational education and training, with particular emphasis on agriculture, being the largest sector. In January 2018, CapED formed a partnership with Fondation CHANEL to further vocational education and training in the area of sustainable tourism, with a particular focus on women. The programme will benefit communities surrounding the Tsingy Nature Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, on the western coast of Madagascar. While this site attracts a high level of tourism, the local population does not benefit from this opportunity.

The innovative partnership brings together expertise from UNESCO’s Culture and Education Sectors. It works to provide women with access to training and opportunities in the sustainable tourism sector to improve their livelihoods and help them become financially independent.

Two vocational training programmes encourage sustainable tourism and support local produce. Six hundred women will be trained to grow vegetables to sell in local hotels and markets or to produce marketable handicrafts, supported by a designer while preserving local traditions. These products will be awarded a Sustainable Tourism Label. The women will also benefit from literacy and accounting lessons. The second programme provides vocational training opportunities to local youth in sustainable tourism trades such as hotel or restaurant management and is offered through training centres already supported by the CapED programme.

The programme is co-financed by the Government of Madagascar, Fondation CHANEL and UNESCO’s CapED Programme, with in kind support from the US Embassy and National Geographic.