Introducing Chandmana Erdene - A Circular Approach To Tourism
Chandmana Erdene is a pioneering project that we are proud to call our own; a low-impact, community-based centre providing an aspirational tourism training programme for Mongolian women that will make a tangible and lasting difference in their lives.
Chandmana Erdene (чандмань эрдэнэ, ‘precious jewel’) is an auspicious name due to its strength of meaning deeply rooted in Mongolia’s culture and Buddhist heritage and because of its links to the local community.
In our logo, the three Buddhist jewels are surrounded by Mongolia’s traditional geometric stylised hammer pattern (Alkhan Khee) which represents unending strength, endless motion and eternal life. The colour blue represents the ‘Eternal Blue Sky’ of Mongolia.
Our Motivation And Purpose - In Brief
Mongolia, a middle-income country, transitioned peacefully to democracy in 1990. Its distinct allure, comprising diverse landscapes, the nomadic way of life, its rich culture, and Chinggis Khan’s historical legacy, has positioned tourism as the third-largest sector, following mining and agriculture. Mongolia envisions a fivefold increase in foreign tourist arrivals by 2030, supported by the Mongolia Sustainable Development Vision 2030 and the State Policy on Tourism Development. Despite these initiatives, a survey in 2021 underscored the need for a skilled workforce in the sector.
Urbanisation in Mongolia concentrates 50% of the population in Ulaanbaatar, with 60% residing in informal ger districts. A 2022 survey by the Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) revealed gender disparities, with an increased number of female-headed households due to high rates of male alcoholism. Among Ulaanbaatar’s working-age adults (18-65), 30% grapple with unemployment and financial challenges, further exacerbated by age bias, corruption, and limited education access. While Mongolia ranks 71st on the World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report 2022, gender disparities persist, necessitating progress toward gender equality.
The United Nations Global Report on Women and Tourism highlights the tourism sector’s potential for women’s workforce participation, entrepreneurship, and leadership. Since our establishment in 2010, Eternal Landscapes Mongolia has exclusively employed Mongolian female guides and offered a low-season tourism training program for women. This experience has paved the way for Chandmana Erdene, our groundbreaking initiative embracing a ‘circular approach to tourism.’ It reimagines industry growth with circular economy principles, placing women at the heart of economic recovery and policy development.
Now, as Mongolia stands at the crossroads of post-pandemic recovery, we believe it’s the perfect time to establish a formal tourism training program for Mongolian women. Our program not only stimulates the local economy while prioritising environmental and cultural preservation but also promotes social equity and women’s advancement. Education, training, and employment in tourism are pivotal for Mongolian women, opening doors to meaningful jobs, increased income, and improved living conditions, empowering them and creating a ripple effect in their households and communities.
However, our program reveals that women, especially those in Ulaanbaatar’s informal ger areas, still face barriers to accessing these opportunities. While the Government of Mongolia’s tourism policy emphasises inclusiveness, the lack of consistent, targeted actions hinders women’s full empowerment in the tourism sector, resulting in persistent challenges. Chandmana Erdene is our vision to address and change this narrative.
Be a Catalyst for Change: Join Our Mission to Empower Mongolian Women
‘My career in the tourism industry was made possible by individuals who looked beyond the traditional norms. I’m now paying that forward and would love your support.
Today, discussions about the role of women in tourism are gaining momentum, yet significant challenges and disparities persist. In Mongolia, many aspiring women struggle to enter the industry, especially those without connections or prior experience. Even those who secure roles often confront discrimination, exploitation, and a lack of support.
Inspired by the remarkable journeys of Mongolian women who have thrived on our off-season training and development program, we’re committed to expanding and formalising our initiative. Our mission is clear: to provide Mongolian women with limited access to opportunities, especially those from marginalized communities, the training they need to succeed. We want to look beyond the traditional norms and help Mongolian women realise their potential through targeted tourism training as well as by developing skills, confidence, and networks while fostering a strong sense of self.
But we can’t do it alone. Join us in our mission to make a real impact and level the playing field by creating a more equitable and empowering future for Mongolian women in tourism. Together, we can create a brighter and more inclusive future. Your support can be the catalyst for change.’
Jessica Brooks, FRGS
Founder, Eternal Landscapes
How We've Been Changing Lives Since 2010
Pujee - Trip Assistant (Guide) with EL
‘Being a trip assistant for EL always gives me wonderful opportunities to learn – from people including our international guests, our team and the local Mongolian people our company works in partnership with. Working in tourism benefits local women in Mongolia if the company, like EL, is flexible and supportive (often in Mongolia, our circumstances can change very quickly) and pays a sustainable wage. If a company is flexible and open then it creates great opportunities for Mongolian women – including building their financial independence, their confidence, their skills and a sense of empowerment.’
Our Dashka - Trip Assistant (Guide) with EL
‘Female workers collaborate and help each other in our team – both professionally, financially and personally. They also learn from their international female guests. It helps make Mongolian women stronger. .’
Our Odnoo - Trip Assistant (Guide) with EL
‘My life has grown since I started to work with the EL tour company. I’m an English teacher but I always work with tourists in the summer months and my English skills and that of my students are developing year by year. After some difficult years as a single mother, I am now financially independent and now feel confident about myself. EL gave me this opportunity and continues to provide support and encouragement for me. I really appreciate working with EL.’
Our Amaraa - Trip Assistant (Guide) with EL
‘ I love the EL team and the policy and philosophy of the company. It is like a wonderful big family and I feel fortunate to have become part of it through destiny and luck. For me, being a guide helps me to support my family financially. Professionally, it also gives me an opportunity to develop my English speaking skills and my confidence.’
Our Tuya - Office Manager & Trip Assistant (Guide) with EL
‘ EL always gives me flexibility. This flexibility as well as the reliable income and support network helps women – especially single mothers.’
Funding Chandmana Erdene
We are on the lookout for funding to make Chandmana Erdene a reality. With the land already secured, we need US$ 300,000 for the centre’s construction based on Passivhaus principles.
You might wonder, “Why not fund it ourselves?” The truth is, the pandemic hit Mongolia’s tourism sector hard, causing a complete shutdown from March 2020 to February 2022. Throughout this challenging period, we managed to support our team without any external financial aid, but it drained our financial reserves completely.
Currently, we’re actively seeking funding, but it’s been an uphill battle. We face obstacles such as being considered too small, being structured as a Community Interest Company (CIC) instead of an NGO, and not directly representing underserved groups. It’s ironic since we are a female-owned company with a team comprising over 75% women, and we are deeply committed to supporting female-owned projects in Mongolia. Unfortunately, it seems we’re not always seen as the right kind of advocates. Moreover, like many small companies, we lack the extensive connections and have limited time due to the demands of running our business alongside caring responsibilities.
Your support can help us break down these barriers and bring our vision of Chandmana Erdene to life. We welcome any funding ideas or support you can provide, as every bit makes a difference. Let’s work together to empower women in Mongolia and build a more sustainable and equitable future. Please reach out to us with your ideas and support to help us turn our vision into a reality.