‘Access to finance major challenge for women entrepreneurs’

Commonwealth ministers have stressed the importance of women’s leadership in enterprises and women’s holistic empowerment as a driver of economic growth, political stability, peace, social justice and inclusive sustainable development.They at the three-day 10th Commonwealth Women’s Affairs Ministers Meeting (10 WAMM) that concluded here on Wednesday also observed with concern the underrepresentation of women leaders and decision-makers in politics, public service, corporate boards and in communities and its negative impact on democracy and development.
In a Dhaka Communiqué after the meeting, the ministers also called for strengthened systems to increase representation of women in decision-making at all levels, including through affirmative policies and electoral reform, where appropriate, for advancing women’s effective political leadership.
The 10 WAMM with its theme ‘Women’s Leadership for Enterprise’ began on Monday. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated it attended by delegations from 30 countries.
The ministers welcomed the Charter of the Commonwealth adopted by Heads of Government in December 2012, in particular Article 12, which recognises gender equality and women’s empowerment as basic human rights and essential components of human development.
Commending the efforts by the global community to articulate a vision of gender equality and women’s empowerment in the post-2015 agenda, they noted that with two years until the target date for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), gender equality remains a challenge for many countries.
The ministers landed their support to a twin-track approach to gender equality in the Post-2015 Development Framework: a stand-alone goal to ensure that gender equality is an objective in its own right and mainstreamed across all other goals.
The ministers recommend that the context of the post-2015 framework should address gender inequality in social institutions, norms and practices and empphasised the importance of working with men and boys as partners.
They recognised that violence against women and children remains a critical issue affecting women’s empowerment and should receive priority attention in the new global development agenda. ‘Acknowledge the impact of climate change and natural disasters on women’s economic empowerment and livelihoods and recommend that it be given due priority in the post-2015 agenda,” said the Communiqué.
For women’s economic empowerment, they called for the creation of an enabling environment for everyone, both in the formal and informal sectors, and including those who may want to start up or grow their business. “Taking into account that lack of access to finance is a major challenge for women entrepreneurs, we called for the Commonwealth to explore innovative, inclusive and accessible financing mechanisms including public private partnership.”
The minister’s also called for urgent measures to address violence against women and children and for the comprehensive implementation of laws and strengthened jurisprudence of equality.
Recognizing the need for social protection measures to respond to women’s multiple roles, they emphasised the importance of women’s unimpeded access to justice and effective legal assistance and to own and inherit property and land. (Source: UNB)

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