Trade expert highlights benefits of women economic empowerment as WBW guest speaker

  • 2 October 2014
ICC digital growth

Executive Director of the International Trade Centre (ITC), addressed an ICC World Business Women (WBW) lunch, telling participants that economic empowerment goes a long way in addressing the difficulties women face in today’s society.

International trade expert Arancha Gonzalez shared how ITC, an agency for private sector development, was helping to empower women economically during her address as guest speaker at the WBW event held earlier this month at ICC global headquarters in Paris.

Ms Gonzalez said: “We know we need 500 million new jobs to be created by 2030 and we know that a big part will be generated by micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises.” “We believe that development policies need to pay particular attention to leveraging the power of micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises given that they are vectors for creating jobs – particularly for women and for youth. For us it is a no-brainer.”

Describing the tools being used to foster growth and create employment toward the attainment of 2015 development goals, Ms Gonzalez told a full room of ICC staff that investing in women entrepreneurs made sound economic sense. “SMEs are the engines of our societies. But more importantly we know that women entrepreneurs reinvest 90% of their revenues into their communities and their families compared with 45% of men entrepreneurs.”

Ms Gonzalez said that ITC develops methodologies and analyses markets and behaviours – such as analysis of value chains – from a gender perspective. This aims to help policymakers make strategic decisions when devising economic and trade policies, to ensure they are devised in a manner that is gender sensitive.

Ms Gonzalez outlined how ITC’s programme devoted to women and trade is helping to bring SMEs out of the informal sector and to reduce SME mortality rates through building capacity, facilitating access to financing and connecting them to international markets.

“Producing a lot of things the market is not interested in buying contributes to the high mortality rate of SMEs,” Ms Gonzalez stated. “We therefore never start by asking what these women can do but by asking what the market asks they can do.”

Ms Gonzalez gave the example of ITC’s Ethical Fashion initiative which connects the fashion business with artisans in Africa and Haiti. The initiative has already benefitted over 7,000 women micro-entrepreneurs and enabled more than 80% of them to educate their children.

Ms Gonzalez concluded by highlighting the untapped potential of government procurement to connect women entrepreneurs to markets.

Ms Gonzalez, a Spanish national, has extensive knowledge about international trade and economics, coupled with broad experience in trade and development matters in the public and private sectors, as well as in management at multilateral organizations. Before joining ITC, she served as Chief of Staff to World Trade Organization (WTO) Director-General Pascal Lamy from 2005 to 2013. During her tenure at the WTO, she played an active role in launching the WTO’s Aid for Trade initiative and served as Mr Lamy’s representative at the G20.

A staff initiative launched in 2012, World Business Women strives to greater diversity of experts and leadership at ICC and capitalize on the diversity and value offered by the people who make up the world business organization’s staff and extensive global network.

For more information visit: http://www.worldbusinesswomen.org/