Women entrepreneurs in the Caribbean are breaking through the walls (Credit: infoDev)
In the last few decades, women in the Caribbean have made impressive strides to break through the glass ceiling and obtain positions of power and responsibility. In governments throughout the region, we’ve seen women as national leaders including Janet Jagen (Guyana), Eugenia Charles (Dominica), Portia Simpson Miller (Jamaica) and Kamla Persad-Bissessar (Trinidad). In addition, the region’s women are attaining high levels of academic achievement, and now there are more female than male college graduates in total. While this is all extremely positive news for gender equality in the Caribbean, we shouldn’t rest on our laurels just yet. There is still one area of the playing field that remains to be leveled, and not just in the Caribbean, which is women succeeding as well as men as high growth entrepreneurs.
When I heard the news last autumn that 15-year-old Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan had been shot simply for standing up for her right as a girl to get an education, I was horrified.
It also reminded me how lucky I was.
When I was offered a rare scholarship to study abroad, it wasn’t acceptable for me, as a young married Indonesian woman, to live apart from my husband. My mother laid out two options: Either he would join me, which meant giving up his job, or I had to decline the offer.
I know it was her way to advocate for my husband to support me, which he did without hesitation. We both went to the United States to complete our master’s degrees. I combined it with a doctorate in economics, and we had our first child, a daughter, while we both were graduate students.
How we support agribusiness and handicrafts sector in Upper Egypt
Last week I met 35 entrepreneurs from Assyut, Aswan, Beni Seouf, Cairo, Fayoum, Giza, Luxor , Minya, Qena, Sharkeyya, Sohag. Some of these names aren’t familiar and there is a reason for that…
They had just been awarded 25,000 dollars each through the Egypt Development Marketplace (DM) competition because their businesses have potential to grow, and create jobs for some of the most vulnerable and marginalized people in Upper Egypt.
I was struck by the new innovative ideas for example using palm trees to produce handicrafts and high quality affordable furniture. But also by the revival of local industries such as the ancient Upper Egyptian carpet weaving produced by ferka, not only generating income for marginalized girls and women, but also renewing pride in Egypt’s remarkable culture and heritage. Whether producing local honey, or adding value to products through food processing of tomato paste, olive oil or dairy products specifically for low-income families, these businesses had deserved their cash reward.
- Upper Egypt
- Urban Development
- Private Sector Development
- Labor and Social Protection
- Information and Communication Technologies
- Financial Sector
- Agriculture and Rural Development
- Middle East and North Africa
- Egypt, Arab Republic of
It’s June 16th, 2013. When you walk through the desolate, empty streets of Kathmandu today, where the effects of another bandh (strike) are clearly visible, you can’t help but wonder: will we Nepalis ever stand up and speak out against any of the injustices we see in our society or will we silently trudge on as always?
Sitting in a conference room at the Trade Tower in Kathmandu, I feel enormous hope that yes, we will. It’s a room filled with more than a hundred young techies and gender activists, all of whom braved the monsoon and the bandh to be a part of the Violence Against Women (VAW) Hackathon – a platform to bring together diverse stakeholders to work on technology solutions to VAW issues.
Last April 21, representatives from government, the private sector, and the financial inclusion world came together for Financial Inclusion Pathways for Women and the Poor. Panels covered a range of topics, including financial education, mobile banking and SME finance. But at the heart of all the discussions was the challenge posed by 2.5 billion unbanked people around the world –1.35 billion of them women. What actions can the public and private sector take to give the financially excluded—especially women who have the potential to transform economies-- access to finance?
Developing countries today have unprecedented numbers of schools, classrooms, teachers—and students. Remarkable accomplishments have also been made towards achieving gender equality at all levels of education (see World Bank, 2010). Since 1999, girls’ gross enrollment rates have risen fastest in South Asia, especially at the primary level, by about 30 percentage points; in South Asia, girls’ enrollment rates at the secondary level rose almost as fast. In the other regions where girls’ enrollment rate at the primary level was already very high, girls’ enrollment rate at the secondary and tertiary levels showed impressive increases.
How would you define a “good boy” or a “good girl”? Would he help with chores around the house? Would she earn good grades in school?
In a study to learn more about how gender norms influence people’s lives today, the World Bank asked more than 4,000 men, women, boys, and girls from 20 countries about their beliefs about gender and how gender norms shape their everyday lives and decisions. The study put them into single-sex focus groups so the participants could challenge one another’s ideas and build on new ideas.
A woman works in a small shop in Ghana.
Photo by Arne Hoel
What will it take for the world to wake up and realize the advantages of supporting women entrepreneurs in the developing world?
If that sounds like an odd question to be asking in the 21st century, just consider some facts. We know that globally women make up almost half the world’s workforce. And we know that in developing economies, 30-40% of entrepreneurs running small or medium sized businesses are women.
But here’s something you may not know – at least 9 out of 10 women-owned businesses have no access to loans. So, just imagine the frustration of a woman in a developing country, who has started a small business, is attracting a good clientele, has a business plan to grow her business, but can’t get a loan to expand. That's not an isolated story. It’s a frustration shared by many women in the developing world. And the frustration of those women sounds echoingly similar to the frustration still lingering in the voices of older women from rich countries, telling how some three decades ago they were refused bank home loans, despite having a guaranteed income.
I was delighted to join the recent colloquium, Getting to Equal in Education: Addressing Gender and Multiple Sources of Disadvantage to Achieve Learning. It was a great initiative, with a whole range of experts and advocates in the room, ranging from old hands to much young blood!
“Anything men can do, we can too.”
Shernette Chin of Jamaica could not imagine how her life would be without her job, which provides food on the table for her kids. To Shernette, men and women are equal. “A woman can do the same thing as a man can do. If men do carpentry, women can do it.”