Pledging support to SheTrades in Colombo, (From left) State Minister International Trade State minister Sujeewa Senasinghe, Women’s Chamber of Industry of Commerce (WCIC) Chairperson Rifa Mustafa, ITC Executive Director Arancha González, EDB Chairperson Indira Malwatte and CSE Chairman Vajira Kulathilake
PIc by Damith Wickremasinghe
Sri Lanka yesterday affirmed its commitment to ‘SheTrades’ call to action, pledging to contribute to International Trade Centre’s (ITC) initiative that aims at linking 1 million women entrepreneurs to the market by 2020.
The Export Development Board (EDB) together with the Women’s Chamber of Industry and Commerce (WCIC) will partner with the ITC to realize this objective.
With women-owned businesses representing between one quarter and one third of enterprises globally, and being largely invisible in global, corporate and government value chains, ITC Executive Director Arancha González asserted that “no country will go far by utilizing just half of its assets”.
Referring to women as the underutilized assets, the ITC official said: “You don’t have to be a genius to understand that if half of your assets are in the informal sector, your growth is going to be one of low quality. And for that you need to ensure that women are empowered economically. SheTrades is precisely about that.”
González made these observations at the ‘Ring the Bell for She Trades Initiative’ ceremony that took place at the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) yesterday. The event was graced by UN, CSE and EDB officials along with members of the WIC.
The trade expert pointed out that enough has been done in the area of education, and getting women into the parliament, and the current context calls for attention in the areas of making women active participants of the economy.
“It is not about women, this is about societies. It is about working together, men and women, to change stereotypes. So pick your bests action, be it in data, public procurement, corporate dialogues, trade policies, and make sure that in the society, community, business, and the economy, you must work to empower women economically,” said González.
While assuring Sri Lanka will play an active role in this global movement, EDB Chairperson Indira Malwatte stressed the need for women to receive the required support.
“We firmly believe that unless women are given a proper job, unless there is money in their pockets, they can never be empowered. And the only way we can empower women is to give good self-employment. This we are committed to,” said Malwatte.
Reflecting similar sentiments, CSE Chairman Vajira Kulathilake said his institution was of the firm belief that enabling the potential of women was central to ensuing sustainable and inclusive development, both in businesses and community.
“In the perspective of capital markets, society needs women from around the country to come forward and play an active role in investment and managing their investment because the opportunity presented by the capital market is not limited to a particular gender or race. We stress that the economic climate will improve only if people of all walks of society participate in the growth story,” said Kulathilake.
The’ SheTrades’ initiative was launched in 2015 as a part of ITC’s effort to support United Nation’s member states achieve Goal 5— to empower all women and girls—of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development.
Via ‘SheTrades’ web and mobile application, women entrepreneurs across the world are provided with the unique platform to connect to markets. (SAA)