Entrepreneurship is an important driver of economic development and growth, and a facilitator of empowerment for women around the world. For the past several years, USCIB and BIAC have supported the Organization for Cooperation and Development (OECD) Gender Initiative, which promotes public and private sector collaboration with the aim of removing persistent obstacles to gender equality in education, employment and entrepreneurship as well as measuring and monitoring the progress in achieving this goal together.
USCIB has contributed to two workshops and three reports on women’s empowerment published and organized by BIAC, the most recent of which, “Putting ALL Our Ideas to Work: Women and Entrepreneurship,” was unveiled on March 23 at an OECD gender initiative meeting in Jakarta, Indonesia.
“Our economies cannot afford to miss out on the contributions of talented women entrepreneurs,” wrote Bernhard Welschke, BIAC’s secretary general, in the report’s preface. “BIAC welcomes OECD efforts to mainstream gender equality across various aspects of its work.”
The new report on entrepreneurship offers practical experience to policymakers in identifying best practices, addressing obstacles and implementing policies that will help unleash the potential for women’s entrepreneurship activities. Access to capital remains the biggest obstacle for women entrepreneurs, who own between one fourth and one third of all the world’s businesses.
The report also notes that many multinational corporations understand well the business and economic case for greater participation of women in the workforce and have introduced programs aimed at supporting women-owned businesses and women entrepreneurs. Public policies that foster women entrepreneurs are also key to increasing their numbers and contributing to their success. Regulatory and legal frameworks should not raise barriers to women.
Phil O’Reilly, BIAC’s chairman, unveiled the report at a meeting of the OECD Southeast Asia Gender Initiative. He spoke at a panel about the role gender plays in Southeast Asian businesses, which addressed the challenges and opportunities of achieving gender equality of opportunity in one of the world’s most dynamic regions.