Equal opportunities for women’s economic participation #SheTrades

Credits: ITC
From left to Right: Jeremy Awori, H.E. Ellen Sirleaf Johnson, H.E. William Ruto & Arancha Gonzalez. Credits: ITC

“Women do not need any help in Economic participation all they need is equal opportunity and access”, these were the words of H. E. Deputy president of Kenya, William S. Ruto. He was speaking at the International forum on Women in Business at the Laico Regency on 14th December, 2015.

H.E. President of Liberia, Ellen Sirleaf Johnson mentioned during the opening ceremony of the forum, that the decisions made at the MC10 conference will enable the betterment of the world. “When you empower women, they in turn empower other women”, she said.

Through the day, every speaker reiterated the important role played by women in a country’s economy. Technology was also acknowledged as a key driver for economic growth and support for business and trade.

Ms. Eva Walder, the Swedish Director General for Trade said that getting women connected to the internet is a bedrock of women empowerment.

Amb. Richard Sezibera, the current secretary general for the East African Community called technology an issue of justice. He said we in Africa should have access to emerging technologies at the same pace with the West. Speaking about developing technologies, he said that Africa needs to develop technologies that enable women to be productive. “Something other than the hand held hoe”, he stressed.

The difference between small, medium and large enterprises is not lack of capital. The biggest challenge to businesses is lack of connectivity. Businesses fail for lack of mentor-ship on opportunities, a gap which can be easily bridged if women  in business took to empowering each other.  As women, we ought to change the narrative that all women fight against each other, and embrace each other even as we empower one another.

“Barclays will identify 10,000 women entrepreneurs, build capacity & invest Kshs 5 billion to women’s businesses”, this was the commitment of Jeremy Awori, Barclays bank of Kenya Managing director. Barclays Bank hosted this forum in partnership with the government and the International Trade Center ahead of the 10th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organisation which runs from the 15th to the 18th of December.

The D. P. William Ruto, noted that women form half of the team, and marginalizing them is like playing football with half the team seated. Sentiments that President Obama shared when he was in Kenya for the GES. “The government will enhance the channels of women’s economic empowerment in the next budget”, said the DP.

Kenya is the first African country to host such a conference. It is also the first time such a conference is being chaired by a female, Amb. Amina Mohammed, the Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for foreign affairs and International trade.

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