Bali (25/08) – On the second day of the G20 Ministerial Conference on Women’s Empowerment (MCWE), participants had a fruitful discussion on Women’s Entrepreneurship: Accelerating Equality, Accelerating Recovery. During this agenda, delegates from G20 member countries acknowledged several measures to be taken, including mandated gender disaggregated data, gender integration into various policies and programs, as well as multi-stakeholder partnerships to create a better women’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.
“MSMEs drive commercial opportunities, contributing to 90 per cent of businesses, 50 per cent of employment rate and 40 per cent of GDP. However, systemic inequality and discriminatory practices keep hindering women’s social and economic participation and financial inclusion,” Women’s World Banking Executive Vice President Harsha Rodrigues said.
Harsha revealed that women have been facing several gender gaps, including the gap in smartphone ownership, in which women have fewer smartphones than men, gap in digital skills, as well as the digital ID gap. As from the mobility aspect, there remain restrictions on the freedom of movement for women. From the entrepreneurial aspect, 104 countries do not prohibit the discrimination against women’s access to loans. Moreover, as many as 40 per cent of countries restrict women’s property rights, and there are still 86 countries restrict women’s economic opportunities, and only 95 countries have set equal payment for men and women for the same job.
“It is important to collect gender disaggregated data by reporting the data, making the data accessible to the public, and using them to improve financial inclusion policies and programs, as well as promoting products that meet women’s needs,” said Harsha.
She also added the need for women-centred designs to ensure the development of products and services that truly match women’s needs, utilize unsecured loans to support women entrepreneurs, increase access to loans for entrepreneurs, enhance digital financial capabilities in all products and services, and improve of business capability in loans products.
At the Conference, Head of We-Fi Secretariat World Bank Wendy Teleki expressed her appreciation to the Indonesian government who raised the theme of women entrepreneurs at the G20 Indonesia Presidency. Wendy reiterated that women entrepreneurs have been gradually playing an important role in the global economy. Unfortunately, there remains a real gender gap in business sector around the world.
“Entrepreneurship is one of the important tools for women to achieve prosperity and independently gain financial access. According to data from We-Fi, 25 per cent of women are less likely to start a business compared to men, while they shared the equal interest of owning businesses. We therefore implement several measures, including gender-disaggregated data to ensure skills and funding assistance can be targeted as well as to help regulators issue the right policies,” Wendy said.
We-Fi which was launched in 2017 in G20 Germany Presidency. In its operation, We-Fi receives assistance from 14 major donors, which is budgeted for 60 developing countries where there are vulnerable groups of women. The efforts made by We-Fi include empowering women’s groups during the pandemic, offering trainings for women entrepreneurs, especially those running small and medium businesses, promoting a sustainable business approach ecosystem, providing access to the market and renewing the mindset of women entrepreneurs. According to them, the pandemic presents a good opportunity to tap into the world market. In Vietnam, they trained farmers affected by the pandemic to grow spices, while in Nigeria they introduced new digital products to thousands of women who had no access to banks, and in Pakistan they trained 180 unpaid care tutors.
WeConnect International CEO Elizabeth Vazquez expressed several recommendations to improve women’s entrepreneurship, including (1) asking the women business owners what they need to be successful, (2) utilizing Government’s existing budget and purchasing power, (3) immediately joining hands with public procurement agencies to support women’s economic empowerment, (4) learning from the private sector, and building public-private partnerships to support gender inclusive programs, (5) utilizing domestic and global civil society organizations to support a sustainable and inclusive business ecosystem.
“Through the Ministry of Women Empowerment and Child Protection of the Republic of Indonesia at the G20 Conference, we encourage financial institutions around the world to provide more disaggregated data and encourage financial access for women entrepreneurs. We try to make women and girls an important part of our policies,” said Minister for Women and Equalities of the United Kingdom H.E. Baroness Stedman-Scott.
In addition, she revealed the importance of providing education on women empowerment, ending violence against women and managing digital access. Nowadays, digital technology is crucial to build a new business. She also revealed that collaborations between the government, civil society, and private sector could encourage women’s empowerment in many areas.
During the Conference, there were several recommendations, including mandating gender disaggregated data, compiling data on the needs of women entrepreneurs, applying appropriate loan methods, and improving women’s capacities. In addition, it is also recommended to address all issues hampering women’s entrepreneurship across the spectrum in the public and private sectors to speed up change. As for procurement, it is necessary to utilize the power of the government by involving public procurement agencies to support women’s empowerment.
“The key message in this discussion is the importance of multi-stakeholder partnerships, which includes all parties in this room, including the private sector. In addition, it is also important to develop partnerships, to utilize civil and international organizations to create a better women’s entrepreneurial ecosystem,” said Asian Development Bank Chief of Gender Equality Thematic Group Samantha Hung, who also served as a moderator at the Conference.