MANILA -- The Department of Tourism (DOT) continues its drive to pursue tourism that provides women numerous opportunities, in its bid to make the industry gender- and community-empowered.

Tourism Undersecretary Alma Rita Jimenez told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) in a recent interview that the department has already rolled out different training and capacity building programs for Filipino women who want to do more.

"We try as much as possible to follow the global and regional standards for gender and development (GAD). In the country, we are very active in the discussion (on) how to further empower women," Jimenez said.

In the tourism department, she noted that DOT-led training courses are continuous.

"We train them for tour guiding and doing the gastronomy tourism. Some women who have their own home facilities, we train them in terms of front office management and managing small businesses," Jimenez said.

She pointed out that tourism is "very dependent" on micro enterprises, that is why most of their training courses are geared towards community-based empowerment, where the players are normally women.

Jimenez, who always represents the DOT in talks about GAD through tourism, reiterated that the issue is not about giving women all the privileges, but providing them fair chances of doing more than what they are expected to do.

"If the women are equally competent, they should have all the chances of being able to play in whatever field they would want and become successful in it," she said.

"We want to focus on those with lower economic status. Sometimes they think that they are helpless, (since they are) expected and got used to staying at home and taking care of the children. If you would think about it, they're more than capable of contributing beyond taking care of the children," she added.

At the recent SheForShe forum of the French Embassy in Manila, Jimenez, who also served as speaker, said tourism is an industry that provides opportunity for women, especially at the grassroots level.

But aside from tourism helping women, the benefit also goes the other way around, she said.

Jimenez pointed out that most of their programs are successful because of the commitment and dedication of women who weave, who cook, and who create products for tourists.

"Sustainable tourism development that is gender- and development-empowered, accessible, and barrier-free is the way to go if we want the industry to remain robust and inclusive," she said.

To date, the tourism official said, DOT has one of the strongest programs in the bureaucracy of the government for GAD.

"Most of our regional trainings are concerned with the development and propagations, GAD issues. We do trainings for all, we mainstream even at the grassroots level," she added. (PNA)