SheTrades, the inclusion of women in trade

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Starting a new business can be a challenging decision. But what if you want to start a company and the only thing holding you back is your gender?

Women entrepreneurs have to deal with far more obstacles than men just because of who they are. This situation must be reversed, in order to allow women to grow in the business world making use of their potential.

Canada and Sweden, known for their feminist policies, have implemented actions to ensure gender equality among their citizens. A gender chapter is included in their daily policies. In fact, many studies show that if women were properly included in the job market, there would be more economic global growth.

Then, why are we not making use of the potential women have? Why are women not engaging in trade?

Apparently, women tend to own businesses that are rather unproductive. On top of that, women entrepreneurs have a hard time finding providers. Due to this fact, it is challenging for women to engage into supply-chain businesses, such as manufacturing.

The International Trade Center realised that this should not curb women’s journey to become entrepreneurs. With this objective in mind, the initiative SheTrades was launched.

Participants raise their hands as President Barack Obama asks for questions during a town hall-style meeting with young African leaders in the East Room of the White House, Aug. 3, 2010.  (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Participants raise their hands as President Barack Obama asks for questions during a town hall-style meeting with young African leaders in the East Room of the White House, Aug. 3, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

SheTrades is an initiative that wants to involve more women in business. It aims to connect women entrepreneurs with the business market by 2020. With this global ambition, female entrepreneurs will be able to connect with providers and increase their participation in global trade. To make this a reality, certain actions need to be taken.

First of all, it is necessary to collect better quality data on women’s empowerment. Furthermore, trade policy needs to be more inclusive. Recently, in the International Forum on Women and Trade, policy makers argued that trade policy should be gender aware. In this area, Canada and Chile are leading the way by example: their last trade agreement includes a gender chapter. This is a clear example that with political willingness, anything can be achieved.

Women are also reluctant to participate in public procurement. Governments, in their role of buyers, should aim for more women-friendly calls for procurement. Another challenging aspect, that women to a certain degree share with male entrepreneurs, is access to finance. Nevertheless, women tend to experience more difficulties than men in obtaining funding, which ends up condemning some of their ventures.

Nevertheless, it is the legal framework of some countries what can truly destroy women’s hopes on starting a business. As unbelievable as it sounds, some women still cannot own a property; in other cases, a male guardian is required for them to have a bank account. This constitutes a burden and hinders enormously women’s business capacity.

SheTrades shows the benefits of including women entrepreneurs in trade. The economic empowerment of women must become a reality. The truth is, this will only be achieved when men and women are finally given the same opportunities in life. Only together we will be able to reach gender equality and generate economic growth.

 

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