An Airbnb host in China sits on a green fabric chair in the bedroom of her listing.

IWD: Airbnb Celebrates Women Hosts who #ChoosetoChallenge

For International Women’s Day this year, Airbnb is paying homage to its community of female hosts in Malaysia, Asia Pacific and the rest of the world.

Globally, Airbnb’s community has long been powered by women, who make up approximately 55% of the platform’s 4 million Hosts. The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted livelihoods worldwide, but Airbnb has simultaneously seen a trend of women Hosts turning to hosting on Airbnb as a means of earning additional income during these uncertain times. Since last March, women Hosts around the world who started hosting one listing on Airbnb have collectively earned more than USD $600 million.

In Malaysia, 42% of new Malaysian Hosts who joined the platform since March 2020 at the start of the pandemic were women. They earned an estimated total income of nearly USD $352,000 (RM1.4 million) throughout the year, despite challenges brought on late in the year with the Movement Control Order (MCO) and restrictions on interstate travel.

In celebration of our host community and this year’s global theme of #ChoosetoChallenge, here are some inspiring women Hosts around Asia Pacific who have overcome and risen above personal challenges to make their mark:

ValiBen’s Homestay, Gujarat, India — Hailing from rural Gujarat, Vali Ben had never imagined she would one day be running her own business, having never had a formal education nor ventured out of the house to find a job. This changed when  she was introduced to SEWA (Self Employed Women’s Association), an organization that aims to empower women through employment and promotes their rights.

Since then, ValiBen subsequently grew more involved with SEWA, gaining the confidence to lead and organize their activities. She eventually became one of the first women at SEWA to host with Airbnb. Today, ValiBen is a micro-entrepreneur running her own business, who both supports her family and is instrumental in educating others who want to follow in her footsteps.

Hsu Hsu’s House for Escape and Relaxation, Taiwan — A young mother and artist, Hsu Hsu initially met with resistance from her family when she planned to become an Airbnb host and run their ‘minsu’ (guesthouse) business. Hsu Hsu eventually won over their support as her hard work, determination and warm hospitality breathed new life into the business, bringing in Airbnb guests from all around the world.

Helen’s Experience, South Korea — Helen’s career came to a halt for eight years when she took time off to focus on raising her children, and reentering the workforce after the extended period was no easy task.

To overcome this, she began training as a calligraphy instructor at the Women’s Human Resources Development Center, Helen eventually kickstarted her own calligraphy business and today hosts a popular calligraphy Experience on Airbnb.

‘Aunty Al’s’ Farm, Tasmania, Australia — A single mother of three girls, Alice started hosting five years ago when she was facing financial difficulties. The supplemental income helped her overcome those difficulties and keep her farm home.

Today, Alice’s farm doubles as an animal refuge for local Tasmanian wildlife, including Tasmanian devils, dozens of pademelons, platypus, birds and cheeky possums, creating a wondrous stay for guests to relax and unwind amidst a spectacular natural surrounding.

Closer to home, show your support this International Women’s Day to some of the Malaysian women who have been charting their own paths as Airbnb Hosts. Local artist and entrepreneur Nini Marini was the first Host based in Malaysia to launch an Online Experience after the pandemic began last year, injecting fun with arts and crafts as she teaches guests how to weave using old t-shirts. Meanwhile, former baker and lifelong foodie Afiza has been an Airbnb Host since 2015, welcoming hundreds of guests over the years as both a Stays and Experiences Host.