Local Maasai Women Empowerment Through Employment Opportunity: Lessons from Base Camp Maasai Brand in Maasai Mara, Kenya

  • George AriyaEmail author
  • Catherine Sempele
  • Florence Simaloi
Part of the Geographies of Tourism and Global Change book series (GTGC)


Limited sustainable employment among rural women in Africa is a major obstacle to rural development. In this regard, there is proliferation of rural tourism enterprises which seek to create employment opportunities for women. However, there is limited documented research on the sustainability of such employment opportunities, especially in Kenya. This study attempted to fulfil this gap by examining the successes and shortcomings of ecotourism enterprises in empowering local Maasai women by advancing the community empowerment framework through ecotourism. The study adopted mixed method research design. Primary data was collected through self-administered questionnaires, interviews, focus group discussions and observation. Out of 118 Maasai women engaged in the project, 95 of the women were available and participated in the study. Data collected was organized, labelled, coded then synthesized into themes and analyzed descriptively. The findings of the study showed that even though the project provided sustainable employment to the disadvantaged rural Maasai women, its shortcomings outweighed the successes. The project was more perceived as a form of precarious employment rather than sustainable employment opportunity for the local Maasai women.


Maasai women empowerment Employment opportunity Ecotourism 


  1. Akama, J. (1996). Western environmental values and nature-based tourism in Kenya. Tourism Management, 17(8), 567–574.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ashley, C. (2001). Pro-poor tourism strategies, expanding opportunities for the poor. London: Overseas Development Institute.Google Scholar
  3. Baum, T. (2013). International perspectives on women and work in hotels, catering and tourism. Geneva: ILO.Google Scholar
  4. Boo, E. (1990). Ecotourism: The potentials and pitfalls. Washington DC: World Wildlife Fund.Google Scholar
  5. Butcher, J. (2005). The moral authority of ecotourism: A critique. Journal of Current Issues in Tourism, 8(2&3), 114–124.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cater, E., & Lowman, G. (Eds.). (1994). Ecotourism: A sustainable option?. Chichester: Wiley.Google Scholar
  7. Coria, J., & Calfucura, E. (2012). Ecotourism and the development of indigenous communities: The good, the bad, and the ugly. Ecological Economics, 73(15), 47–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. de Grammont, H.C. (2008). El concepto de nueva ruralidad. In E. Pérez, M.A. Farah and H.C. de Grammont (Ed.), La nueva ruralidad en América Latina: avances teóricos y evidencias empíricas (pp. 23–44). Bogotá: Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, CLACSO.Google Scholar
  9. Dowling, R. K. (2000). Global ecotourism at the start of the new millennium. World Leisure Journal, 42(2), 11–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Fawaa, F., Rahnama, M., & Stout, B. (2014). An empirical refinement of the refinement of the relationship between tourism and economic growth. Anatolia Journal, 25(3), 352–363.Google Scholar
  11. Fennell, D. (2001). A content analysis of ecotourism definitions. Current Issues in Tourism, 4(5), 403–421.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Friedmann, J. (1992). Empowerment: The politics of alternative development. Cambridge: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  13. Ghodsee, K. (2005). The Red Riviera: Gender, tourism, and postsocialism on the black sea. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Goodwin, H. (2008). Pro-poor tourism: A response. Third World Quarterly, 29(5), 869–871.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Hoel, H., & Einarsen, S. (2003). Violence at work in catering, hotels and tourism. Geneva: International Labour Office.Google Scholar
  16. Hvenegaard, G. (1994). Ecotourism: A status report and conceptual framework. Journal of Tourism Studies, 5(2), 24–35.Google Scholar
  17. Jamil, J., & Hamzah, A. (2007). The KPW and women roles in Banghuris Homestay. Malaysia: Rural Tourism Research.Google Scholar
  18. King, B. (2010). Conservation geographies in Sub‐Saharan Africa: The politics of national parks, community conservation and peace parks. Geography Compass, 4(1), 14–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Lapeyre, R. (2010). Community-based tourism as a sustainable solution to maximise impacts locally? The Tsiseb conservancy case, Namibia. Development Southern Africa, 27(5), 758–772.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Losch, B. (2004). Debating the multifunctionality of agriculture: From trade negotiations to development policies by the south. Journal of Agrarian Change, 4(3), 336–360.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Mansperger, M. C. (1995). Tourism and cultural change in small-scale societies. Human Organization, 54(1), 87–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Marcus, J. (2006). Is US tenure track fertile for change? The Times Higher Education Supplement, November, 2: 11.Google Scholar
  23. Moswete, N., & Lacey, G. (2015). “Women cannot lead”: Empowering women through cultural tourism in Botswana. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 23(4), 600–617.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Perkins, D. D., Brown, B. B., & Taylor, R. B. (1996). The ecology of empowerment: Predicting participation in community organizations. Journal of Social Issue, 52(1), 85–110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Reimer, J. K., & Walter, P. (2013). How do you know it when you see it? Community-based ecotourism in the Cardamom Mountains of Southwestern Cambodia. Tourism Management, 34, 122–132.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Rydsik, A., Pritchard, A., Morgan, N., & Sedgley, D. (2012). Mobility, migration and hospitality employment: Voices of Central and Eastern European women. Hospitality & Society, 2(2), 137–157.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Scheyvens, R. (1999). Ecotourism and the empowerment of local communities. Tourism Management, 20, 245–249.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Scheyvens, R. (2007). Ecotourism and gender issues. In J. Higham (Ed.), Critical issues in ecotourism (pp. 185–213). Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Scheyvens, R. (2010). Promoting women’s empowerment through involvement in ecotourism: Experiences from the third world. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 8, 232–249.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Smith, V. (1996). Indigenous tourism: The four Hs. In R. Butler & T. Hinch (Eds.), Tourism and indigenous peoples. London: International Thomson Business Press.Google Scholar
  31. Sofield, T. H. B. (2003). Empowerment for sustainable tourism development. Oxford: Elsevier Science.Google Scholar
  32. Sofield, H. B., & Birtles, R. A. (1996). Indigenous peoples’ cultural opportunity spectrum for tourism. In R. Butler & T. Hinch (Eds.), Tourism and indigenous peoples. London: International Thomson Business Press.Google Scholar
  33. Stronza, A. (2007). The economic promise of ecotourism for conservation. Journal of Ecotourism, 6(3), 210–230.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Stronza, A., & Gordillo, J. (2008). Community views of ecotourism. Annals of Tourism Research, 35(2), 448–468.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Swain, B. S., & Swain, M. B. (2004). An ecofeminist approach to ecotourism development. Tourism Recreation Research, 29(3), 1–6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Taylor, G. (1995). The community approach: Does it really work? Tourism Management, 16(7), 487–489.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Thomlinson, E., & Getz, D. (1996). The question of scale in ecotourism: Case study of two small ecotour operators in the Mundo Maya region of Central America. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 4(4), 183–200.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Timothy, D. J. (2007). Empowerment and stakeholder participation in tourism destination communities. In A. Church & T. Cole (Eds.), Tourism, power and space. London and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  39. UNWTO (United Nations World Tourism Organization). (2002). Tourism and poverty alleviation. Madrid: UNWTO.Google Scholar
  40. UNWTO (United Nations World Tourism Organization). (2006). Tourism highlights (2006th ed.). Madrid: UNWTO.Google Scholar
  41. UNWTO (United Nations World Tourism Organization). (2008). Empowering women through tourism. Madrid: UNWTO.Google Scholar
  42. UNWTO (United Nations World Tourism Organization). (2011). Global report on women in tourism 2010. Madrid: UNWTO.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. United Nations Population Fund. (2008). Empowering women through tourism. New York: UNFPA.Google Scholar
  44. van der Cammen, S. (1997). Involving Maasai women. In L. France (Ed.), The earthscan reader in sustainable tourism (pp. 162–163). London: Earthscan.Google Scholar
  45. Walter, P. (2011). Gender analysis in community-based ecotourism. Journal of Tourism Recreation Research, 36(2), 159–168.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Wearing, S., & Larsen, L. (1996). Assessing and managing the socio-cultural impacts of ecotourism: Revisiting the Santa Elena rainforest project. The Environmentalist, 16, 117–133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Weaver, D. (2005). Comprehensive and minimalist dimensions of ecotourism. Annals of Tourism Research, 32(2), 439–455.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Weaver, D., & Lawton, L. (2007). Twenty years on: The state of contemporary ecotourism research. Tourism Management, 28, 1168–1179.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Wilkinson, P. F., & Pratiwi, W. (1995). Gender and tourism in an Indonesian village. Annals of Tourism Research, 22(2), 283–299.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Women First. (2010). The case for change: Women working in hospitality, leisure, travel and tourism.
  51. Yamada, N. (2011). Why tour guiding is important for ecotourism: Enhancing guiding quality with the ecotourism promotion policy in Japan. Asia Pacific Journal of Tourism Research, 16(2), 139–152.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Zhang, X., Ding, P., & Bao, J. (2008). Income distribution, tourist commercialisation, and Hukou status: A socioeconomic analysis of tourism in Xidi, China. Journal of Current Issues in Tourism, 11(6), 549–566.Google Scholar
  53. Zeppel, H. (2006). Indigenous ecotourism: Sustainable development and management. Wallingford: CABI.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • George Ariya
    • 1
    Email author
  • Catherine Sempele
    • 1
  • Florence Simaloi
    • 2
  1. 1.University of EldoretEldoretKenya
  2. 2.TicketingKenya Association of Tour OperatorsNairobiKenya

Personalised recommendations