Exploring the Challenges of Employing Women as Porters in Cusco, Peru

Presenter: Shreshthi Mehta

Research Category:
College: College of Professional Studies
Major(s): Leadership
Graduation Date: 2021
Award Winner Category: CPS Sustainability and Resiliency

Machu Picchu is the most visited tourist destination in Peru. The 4-day Machu Picchu trek is a must-do activity for many where porters accompany tourists on strenuous hikes across the Andes. For many decades, only men have worked as tourist porters in Cusco. Though women in Cusco have the permit to work as porters, they are not frequently seen in that profession. One of the reasons is that women are permitted to carry only up to 33 lbs. of weight as compared to 45 lbs. for men.

This study explores the cultural and demographic challenges that prevent women from working as porters and the difficulties that tour companies face while being inclusive. To reduce child labor, mistreatment of women and poverty in Cusco, it is essential that women reap the benefits from the booming tourist industry.

Studies demonstrate that several communities had prospered when women had financial freedom. It reduced the instances of crimes against them (Coles & Mitchell, 2011). The author has determined that if tour companies want to be inclusive then they have to price their services at higher rates. One of the strategies to achieve this is by effective marketing of eco-tourism initiatives which enable tour companies to pay a fair wage to women porters.

Secondly, the problems of gender inequality are multi-faceted, which can only be combatted through a combination of efforts from male porters. They have to be trained to understand that including women would build a better community for their wives, sisters and others.