Women’s Economic Empowerment through Entrepreneurship: Key to Development
Shaping the Post 2015 Development Agenda to Achieve Gender Equality and the Economic Empowerment of Women
Business and Professional Women International (BPWI) advocates for the economic empowerment of women in order to achieve equity, equality and justice for all. Research shows that when women earn equally to men, enjoy full access to land, water and food and the management thereof, have access to all basic services, have control over means of production and (natural) resources and the opportunity to engage in entrepreneurship, the development impact on society is enormous..
The progress reports on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), have revealed significant gaps and omissions, especially in the realization of MDG 7 – the sanitation target – and MDG 3: “Promote gender equality and empower women”. The economic empowerment of women and women as entrepreneurs is not specifically mentioned; and discussion of technical assistance to women, so essential to the development of business is limited if not absent. Women are seen as recipients of aid and advice (victims) rather than as actors in their own right, agents of change, with rights to ownership and the means (including general and financial literacy education, loans, technical assistance, etc.) to ensure success and fulfill their roles.
With the current, ongoing discussions on the Post 2015 agenda and SDGs there are new opportunities: the inclusion of clear language concerning women’s equality and economic empowerment in the goal, targets and indicators.
BPW International therefore recommends for the Post 2015 agenda and SDGs:
1. Women’s equality and empowerment should be sought within the normative United Nations framework of human rights conventions and with attention to sustainable development, as set out in the Rio+20 outcome document, “The Future we Want”. We advocate for the universal adoption of the Women’s Empowerment Principles as the normative framework for businesses ensuring equality, justice and economic advancement for all.
2. Member States (MS) should include specific language on the economic empowerment of women through entrepreneurship and advocate the integration of specific measures to achieve the economic empowerment of women at the goal, target and indicator levels.
3. MS should implement agreed treaties and conventions (CEDAW, Beijing) and thus guarantee full access to land, water, food and the management thereof, have ownership and control over means of production, the opportunity to engage in entrepreneurship, and full access to markets and the resources necessary to succeed in business and trade for women.
4. Women should be guaranteed access to educational opportunities and technical information, including inter alia through match-making and technical assistance programs, access to information on regulatory environments, supplier diversity and inclusion initiatives.