Women Entrepreneurship Centre
The International Economic Architecture is changing and is no longer gender blind.
The G20, BRICS, The G7, the UN and the international financial institutions, all now recognize that empowering women and promoting their participation in economic activity across all sectors is fundamental to achieving a sustainable growth.
The pace at which change is happening, however, remains too slow. We need more action now, and active policy measures to drive change. The Women Entrepreneurship Centre will explore, discuss, and propose innovative policies to advance gender-inclusive growth in African countries.
Entrepreneurship is at the core of the Sustainable Development Agenda.
The key role of entrepreneurship is due to the contribution that enterprises, in particular micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, make to economic growth. They are important drivers of job creation, providing two-thirds of all formal jobs in Africa
Furthermore, the internationalization of small and medium-sized enterprises can play an important role in promoting growth and trade in developing countries. In addition to the direct impact of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises on economic growth, the promotion of entrepreneurship provides long-term development benefits through its effects on productive capacity-building.
The Women Entrepreneurship Centre aims to highlight the important role women have and can play in economic development. It addresses three questions: what is the evidence base to support investing in women? What are the current constraints on realizing the full potential of women in the process of economic development? What are the priority areas of intervention necessary to unblock these constraints? It is focused on women and economic development, rather than on the wider issue of gender and development. However, before looking at the evidence base, constraints, and interventions, it will provide a brief context of the evolution of thinking around women and development.
Action Agenda On Mainstreaming Women's Economic Empowerment In Africa
The Women Entrepreneurship Centre aims to mainstream Women’s Economic Empowerment through innovation, trade, inclusive business, and human capital development by encouraging each AU Member State to support the following actions:
1) ADOPT CONCRETE AND MEASURABLE ACTIONS to address the barriers that impede maximizing women’s full economic potential in the areas of finance, information access, and markets; human capital development and leadership; and innovation and technology;
2) PREPARING WOMEN FOR THE JOBS OF TOMORROW
The scale and speed of change brought by technology in the past 50 years has been unprecedented and there is no doubt that in the future AI and automation will disrupt and transform work in ways that cannot yet be imagined. How can women and girls be prepared for this brave new world? Is systematic STEAM education the only way to provide the capacity to adapt to the requirements of future jobs? What emphasis should be put on creativity and critical thinking? How can communities avoid ‘missing the boat’ and harness the potential of technology while avoiding increasing inequalities? This session will explore these issues and how countries can develop a more comprehensive view of trends in order to establish a meaningful dialogue with education systems and businesses to align demand and supply of skills. We will promote women’s participation and skills development in science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (S.T.E.A.M.), including information and communication technologies (ICT) by providing, for example, incentives for women innovators, allocating more foreign investments in science research institutes and foundations, and by creating an enabling environment for ICT empowerment of women entrepreneurs and to promote ICT as enabling tools for the advancement of women and their economic empowerment;
3) INVEST in programs that provide enabling environments for women micro, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to prosper through ease of doing business initiatives, incentives, and favorable tax regulations, helping them participate in inclusive and innovative businesses whether as consumer, seller, supplier, distributor, and worker and by addressing the constraints that limit their integration in the international markets and global value chains (GVCs);
4 ) INCREASE women’s representation and leadership in the workforce at the executive and managerial positions by intensifying human capital development and capacity-building programs that empower women to bear equal roles in all sectors as men do and, enhance gender equality policies and strategies to close the gender pay gap;
5) ENCOURAGE PUBLIC AND PRIVATE SECTOR COLLABORATION through advocacy, networking, and outreach purposes to create more opportunities for women in business;
6) ENTREPRENEURSHIP, TRADE AND PROCUREMENT
Through this platform, we support women’s participation in public procurement as a tool, and an entry point for entry into exports and international trade. We will promote and support active policies, and recommendations for the G20, to bring more women-ed firms into public and private procurement. There are many different business ownership models, including majority woman-owned businesses, firms that are equally male and female-owned as well as women-led businesses. The differences in these models should be highlighted, particularly in light of how public expenditures should be allocated to expand opportunities for women’s businesses. We will support existing good practices in both the public and the private sectors and assess their feasibility in public policy programs;
7) WOMEN IN THE DIGITAL ECONOMY
Despite the huge impact that global online connectivity has had on global communications, trade, scientific analysis, and local economies, over 50% of the world -an estimated four billion people – have yet to gain regular access to the internet, and women in developing countries are 25% less likely than men to have internet access. Using examples of successful interventions in communities around the world, this session will examine the untapped potential contribution of women’s digital uptake to the local and global economies, and how best to restore balance throughout the digital economy
8) FINANCIAL INCLUSION AND ACCESS TO FINANCE
Financial inclusion is a major driver of economic development around the world. Access to financial services by individuals and enterprises, however, is still limited in many countries and regions, and women are much more financially excluded than men. In this session, we will focus on identifying gaps, exploring areas of intervention, and discussing how the G20 financial inclusion agenda needs to be more gender-inclusive.