Although gender has become an established research topic in tourism studies over the last decades, the role of religion in relation to women participating in tourism has been less explored. Moreover, gender has been mainly discussed from a Western perspective, while other viewpoints have received little attention. By focusing on women participating in the tourism industry in Zanzibar we make a contribution to both voids in tourism studies. This article provides an account of how Zanzibari women working in tourism are confronted with particular constraints brought about by the Islamization of Swahili culture. Moreover, it is argued that whereas women find themselves bound up by particular Islamic norms and values, they are able through the enactment of their environments to challenge, negotiate, and resist these. In so doing they create the freedom to make their own choices, which, as will be shown, reach beyond their labor position. The research findings are discussed in terms of the concept of enactment as proposed by Weick in 1995 and explore the ability of women to participate in the construction of their own environment. The article concludes by arguing that women enact their environments in diverse ways, and how these environments are understood by them as either constraining or enabling them in taking over agency over their lives.
- Female tourism entrepreneurs