Tourism authority becomes a refugee aid centre
March 10, 2022
How women are creating pragmatic and supportive solutions in times of crisis
In recent days Natalia Turcanu, head of the tourism authority of the Republic of Moldova, has offered an impressive example of successful female leadership in times of crisis. She abruptly converted her local authority, exclusively staffed by women, into a centre welcoming refugees from Ukraine, which surrounds the small southern European country on its northern, southern and eastern flanks. At the panel discussion Turcanu presented her country in a keynote speech. Women from India, South Africa, Jordan and Indonesia also presented their projects.
According to Turcanu, within a short space of time Moldova was confronted with thousands of refugees fleeing the invasion of neighbouring Ukraine, most of them women and children. Their numbers represent the highest ratio of refugees to local inhabitants of all of Ukraine’s neighbours: 4,000 refugees per 100,000 of the local population. All 77 employees, most of them female, immediately made themselves available to the cause and organised preliminary accommodation and meals, Turcanu said. Guesthouses, apartments, even wine cellars were provided free of charge, initially without public funding. The website had special information for refugees indicating whom they could turn to and where they could obtain vital support. To date, more than 10,000 refugees have arrived, and in the meantime the government has provided funding for their care.
In southern India women showed how they are able to help by alerting to natural disasters, bypassing frequently corrupt local authorities. “Our government does not sound the alarm for flooding. The women here supply them with information“, said Sreeja K.G., presenting her project. The information helps with preventative and counter measures, and the work also ensures that women are now able to have their say on local councils. What made them set up their own agency was not only the increasing flooding in their region, but the fact that no men helped when the low-lying kitchens of a village were frequently flooded and the women had to take care of matters themselves.
Holly Budge from South Africa hopes to attract widespread media attention at the World Female Ranger Week from 23 to 30 June of this year. There are 4,500 female rangers in 18 African countries, including an anti-poaching unit comprising women only, and there are 5,500 female rangers worldwide. Not only do they help to make women more visible, they also consider themselves at the forefront of preserving Africa’s natural heritage.
According to Shana Fatina, she was the first female diver on the Indonesian island of Labuan Baro, in the Komodo National Park. Not only that, she set up a diving school there and made sure that as well as tourists, more and more women learned to dive safely. That led to working together with the local women on the island, which in turn paid off during the pandemic. During the period when tourism numbers fell and courses were cancelled the workers collected plastic waste from the sea and turned it into souvenirs which they sold in the bars and cafés.