Africa’s Future May Depend on Women’s Employment

Pondoland has all of the necessary ingredients for civil strife:
an increasing toll of HIV infections, a severe water and land
shortage, and a trend towards urban migration. But the African
state is not yet convinced that civil war is written in its
destiny.

According to research conducted by Population Action
International, the most effective method of countering the
predisposition to civil war is ‘to improve women’s access to
education, family planning, and economic opportunities.’ So-called
‘Pro-Poor’ tourist programs such as the E.U.-supported Wild Coast
Trails Community Tourism Initiative are heeding this advice with
their mission to spread the economic benefits of tourism to the
less fortunate.

‘Pro-Poor’ tourist initiatives, which focus on a region’s
natural assets, employ local women as tour guides and therefore
help them resist the pressure to move to urban areas in search of
employment. The profession of tour guide is not a lucrative one; in
fact, it provides just enough income to cover basic needs. But,
insofar as it counteracts the pressure to take on jobs in the
domestic arena, which involve a great risk of sexual exploitation
and AIDS, the program may be saving lives.

Population Action International is optimistic about the effect
of initiatives such as Wild Coast’s. The programs ‘can help reduce
birth rates, slow urban migration and ultimately reduce the risk of
civil conflict.’ The European Union plans to expand the program and
hopes it will serve as a model for similar programs in
war-vulnerable areas.
Andi McDaniel

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A Tourist’s Guide to Civil War

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