Empowering Mongolian Women in Tourism: Our Female Trip Assistants
Originally hailing from a herding family in Dungobi Aimag in Mongolia’s Middle Gobi region, she later relocated to Ulaanbaatar (UB), Mongolia’s capital city, to pursue her university education. Zumbee embarked on her journey with us at the outset of her career aspirations as a General Practitioner (GP). Her decision to work in tourism was not solely driven by the need for financial support for her studies but also by her desire to broaden her horizons, enhance her life skills, and improve her prospects through her involvement in tourism.
Her motivation went beyond personal growth and learning English; she sought to engage with different nationalities and cultures. Zumbee joined our fledgling free low-season training program, and as the program evolved, so did her own development, culminating in her graduation.
Zumbee confronted numerous obstacles and challenges along the way. She adeptly juggled the demands of full-time studying while taking care of her younger siblings. During her final year of studies, she also embraced motherhood, giving birth to a beautiful daughter. In addition to these personal challenges, Zumbee encountered criticism during her extended time as a trip assistant, including comments insinuating that she was too young for the tourism industry or that her involvement was inconsequential since she did not plan to pursue a long-term career in tourism. However, she met these challenges and criticisms head-on, showcasing her resilience and determination.
Since her graduation, she has embarked on a new chapter in her life, relocating to Sydney, Australia, to pursue her dreams and continue her journey of personal and professional growth.
Creating Opportunities In Tourism
As Turuu and I set out on our journey to establish Eternal Landscapes, a small and fledgling company, we encountered a significant challenge in finding guides.
We noticed a recurring pattern within the industry – a ‘circuit’ of the same seasoned guides rotating between various companies or the preference for Western leaders instead of local Mongolians.
This observation raised a pivotal question in our minds: How could aspiring individuals, native to their own country and eager to pursue careers in tourism, break into the field when they lacked formal qualifications and experience? It was this very question that ignited our motivation to create an informal, low-season training programme for Mongolian women.
Think back to when you were just starting on your career path. You attended interviews, only to encounter the all-too-familiar response: ‘We’re interested, but you need more experience.’ Remember the frustration that came with it? How were you expected to gain valuable experience if nobody was willing to extend a helping hand and provide that crucial opportunity?
We understood this situation all too well, and that’s why we decided to be the ones to be the catalyst for change. We decided to be the ones who offered that chance, determined to give local Mongolians the opportunity to aim to be the best they can be.
While it’s true that not all our trip assistants necessarily envision a long-term career in tourism, what truly matters are their personal motivations for entering this field. Whether it’s a desire to gain confidence, acquire new skills, or achieve economic empowerment, these individual reasons are what drives them to be part of the Eternal Landscapes team.
Our remarkable team of trip assistants comprises dynamic women who are actively seeking opportunities for training and personal development. The younger members represent the future of Mongolia, and the older members being mums and/or teachers, are not only inspiring but also shaping the next generation of Mongolian leaders through their own journeys.
The Sustainable Development Goals, a set of 17 interconnected objectives, provide a global roadmap for constructing a more sustainable and equitable future. These goals address a multitude of challenges, spanning from poverty and inequality to climate change and environmental conservation, all the way to promoting peace and justice. To truly make a difference and leave no one behind, it is essential that we collectively strive to achieve all these goals by 2030.
Sustainable Development Goal 5 – Gender Equality – Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
Sustainable Development Goal 10 – Reduced Inequalities – Reduce inequality within and among countries
Empowering Through Tourism
Zumbee encapsulates the very essence of Eternal Landscapes’ philosophy. Our collective purpose extends beyond the pursuit of profit or vying for the top spot on TripAdvisor. We are a business with a social conscience, driven by a set of ethics and values. Our pride lies in our commitment to making a positive impact in Mongolia, supporting a diverse spectrum of Mongolian society, and challenging the conventional stereotypes and clichés associated with tourism in Mongolia.
One of the ways we fulfill this commitment is through our free low-season training and development program for Mongolian women, which also opens doors to employment opportunities through the Mongolian trips and experiences we offer to our international guests. Despite being a small company, we aspire for Eternal Landscapes to serve as a catalyst for positive change. While our efforts align with a couple of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, our mission is far more profound. As a fortunate business owner, I understand the importance of using my skills and influence as a woman to uplift the prospects and well-being of other women. In our team, we perceive our role as extending beyond offering mere opportunities; it serves as a beacon of hope, assistance, and support.
We firmly believe that empowering women and showcasing their independent roles serves as a powerful source of inspiration for young girls in rural Mongolian communities. It illustrates to them that they too can aspire to achieve greatness. On a more practical level, having a female trip assistant often enhances the comfort of our female travellers. We understand that women may have unique needs, which might not be immediately evident to someone from a different cultural background.
Looking ahead, we are committed to continuing our investment in the hope that our trip assistants view Eternal Landscapes as a platform to nurture their personal ambitions, embark on adventures, and unlock their full potential. This not only benefits the women themselves but also strengthens our identity as a company and contributes positively to the broader community.