“According to UNFPA, >50% employed in Tourism in India is women but there is no sign of it. Even though we see females everywhere, we actually don’t see them. We are not able to see them in the industry at all jobs & big positions.”
Tourism, one of the major contributors to the Indian GDP and economy, has also been one of the major opportunity providers for employment to the Indian masses. However, the inevitable gender gap in employment of this sector still hovers; casting the shadows of negligence. Women for World, a travel community brand stands as an epilogue to bridge this gap and bring about the participation of women in the industry.
Founded by Komal Darira & Shrishti Sharma on a cup of coffee while analyzing the deepening impact of the pandemic in the industrial sector, Women for World is a striving step towards creating inclusivity in the industry of tour & travel. It strives to end the stereotyped culture around the profession of tour guides & tourism domain and bring forth awareness among the growing youth via conducting workshops, seminars. As clearly stated by the CO-founder Shrishti, “ It’s not a well known industry so we want students to come up & realise how this industry works. Women come up & show their stature. One step at a time.”
“Our vision is that when people travel they gain, learn from the culture of tour and contribute to the locals. It should be a lifelong memory that people can share & grow together.”
Women for World as a travel brand tries to accommodate a diversity of customers from foreign lands & domestic territory. It strives to redefine the definitions of travel which are completely different from the one perceived in the market. As a part of baby steps into the development of the startup, they focused towards understanding customers & customising experiences as per their tastes. And every trip involves a pinch of knowledge from every nook and corner of that particular place. Understanding and staying updated with the current trends are a part of their focus too. One such example cited by them is of Jawai, the gem of Rajasthan. Jawai, famous for its beautiful safari, saw its adventures being enjoyed by individuals of young blood to old women making an atmosphere of inclusive learning. “There are small things that you as a travel brand can do to change the mentality of your customers”, they say.
“It was a fun job & later I realised this is what I am passionate about talking to people about my country and culture,”remarks Komal. “ I have never dreamt of corporate jobs. I was a freelancer.” remarks Shrishti
Komal Darira, first female tour leader, an awardee of UA Guide of the Year twice & featured in National Geographic, Teen Vogue, Femina India, Dainik Bhaskar, is a graduate in Journalism from IP University and the co-founder, Shrishti Sharma, an awardee of Global Guide of Year 2019 at Urban Adventures, is a MBA in Tourism & Travel Service from Indian Institute of Tourism & Travel Management. They together stand to debunk the stereotype of mainstream profession choices. As for Komal, in her 2.5 years of job experience as a Tour guide & then, Business Unit Manager; she has faced the male skewed gender ratio and took this opportunity to work towards recruiting & increasing female representation in the brand. At the same opportunity, she actually met her co-founder, Shrishti, who had been a freelancer & worked under Komal, exploring her career. Together, they tend to solve the complexity of low representation & develop Women for World which holds a value more than the financial aspect; working on the agenda that ‘in industry, opportunities should be given based on qualifications & not gender.’
“One of the things which was very difficult for us was to keep our spirits high. Every failure we faced has taught us something & bounced back with even a greater core.”
Starting a business in the pandemic was indeed a risky step to admit. The journey started as an online written community to share empowering stories of those women who are making difference through their travel experiences & inspiring all the young minds.The brand realisation demanded investment but the situation & time did not favour much. Further, a business in a pandemic doesn’t give the opportunity to hire people straight away. There was an urge to multitask; seeing oneself as the social media manager, handle finance or designer. This tendency to multitask tends to drain one and if there is an end with undesirable results, it’s disheartening. Another aspect was to keep one’s spirits high in such an environment with uncertainty prevailing around and over; pushing oneself or the team to work everyday is something not conducive. As far as the concern of technology overpowering, Shrishti clearly remarks “It takes time to adjust to the new. At present, we are taking tech as the opportunity for yourself & are able to connect to a lot of people.”
“Entrepreneurship is not about running a business; it’s about running a business successfully. When you talk about successful running of business, you need a lot of knowledge, experience & learning.”
The founders have seen themselves evolving through the hardships. For the budding entrepreneurs, they advise them to step into the industry and learn to embellish themselves with the practical knowledge before jumping into any conclusion. It’s also necessary to realise the thin line between dream & reality – the plan & hard work requires a lot of perseverance, discipline & consistency. The founders have also emphasised on the ability of having a vision & being resilient for that will be the source of intrinsic motivation to imagine oneself at a span of 5 years from now & seeing the vision establish.