INTERNATIONAL. Travel retail networking forum Women in Travel Retail (WiTR) and The Moodie Davitt Report are teaming up to celebrate International Women’s Day (Thursday 8 March) with a branded site make-over.

International Women’s Day is a global celebration of the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. International Women’s Day has been observed for over a century, with the first gathering support from over a million people in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland.

WiTR was established in 2006 by a group of female executives from the travel retail industry who were keen to provide a forum for the industry’s many women executives. With a network that has grown steadily every year, WiTR has emerged as one of the industry’s strongest advocates of charitable giving. It supports a variety of projects from Haiti to Africa and China, with a strong focus on helping children and young adults.

To celebrate International Women’s Day, WiTR has organised several regional and local social events in London, Dubai and Singapore.

In 2017, WiTR became a registered entity and started a membership service as a strategy to raise funds and create a better networking platform for female executives. Membership costs just £25 per year and includes private members area access, a WiTR member database, fundraising support plus more. WiTR uses the fee to cover annual administrative costs. Any surplus income will be donated to the group’s chosen charity each year. There are now over 100 registered WiTR members.

The next WiTR networking event will take place at the Summit of the Americas in Orlando on Sunday 18 March at 17:00 before the Opening Cocktail.

Hand in Hand for Haiti was a unanimous choice by WiTR for support this year

WiTR recently named Hand in Hand for Haiti as its chosen charity for 2018. WiTR will support the charity by raising a minimum of €15,000 to buy musical instruments. This will enable the launch of Lycée Jean-Baptiste Pointe du Sable’s first extracurricular instrumental music programme in partnership with École de Musique Christian Nohel de Saint Marc.

Between 2016 and 2017 WiTR raised over €40,000 to build and equip classrooms at Cambodian school Sunrise Seam Reap. In 2015, WiTR raised more than €20,000 to provide housing for a further 30 children at the Brahmaputra Home built by TFWA Care in Guwahati, Assam, working with Lotus Flower Trust.

The extension to the Brahmaputra Home gave 30 more children a safe home, regular meals and the opportunity to go to school; pictured below are WiTR Chair Sarah Branquinho and her husband (and TFWA President) Erik Juul-Mortensen on a visit in 2015

WiTR Chair Sarah Branquinho said: “International Women’s Day comes just three months after the launch of WiTR as a membership association and some fantastic networking events are taking place on 8 March in Singapore, Dubai and Europe.

“We’ve received some great corporate sponsorship support, and fabulous feedback from women in the industry about what they would like to see from WiTR, and the website is evolving to reflect that.

Surrounded by happy faces: Siem Reap Founder Geraldine Cox (centre) spends precious time with the school’s children

“WiTR offers a focal point for sharing, learning, meeting, encouraging and supporting the many talented women working at all levels in the duty free and travel retail industry – whether beginners or with years of experience. The membership fee is deliberately modest to ensure that everyone can join.”