“Data from the World Bank and other institutions show that women-owned small and medium-sized enterprises drive economic growth and create jobs."
No society can achieve its full potential when half the population is denied the opportunity to reach theirs, and no amount of effort to improve economic growth will succeed without the full and equal participation of women.
If you want to improve the economy, “the best investments that can be made are women-run small and medium enterprises," said U.S. Ambassador-at-Large Melanne Verveer at the South Asia Women's Entrepreneurship Symposium, which recently took place in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
“Data from the World Bank and other institutions show that women-owned small and medium-sized enterprises drive economic growth and create jobs. This is true in the United States and it is true around the world. Women who are successful in business are also empowered to be leaders in their communities and countries,” said Ambassador Verveer in a recent article she co-wrote with U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka and the Maldives, Michele Sison.
“Women today face a range of challenges – illiteracy, poor access to education and credit, gender-based violence, and ingrained discrimination, limiting both their economic and political opportunities,” said Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert Blake in his opening speech at the four-day Symposium, which brought together some 120 participants from 11 South and Central Asian countries, as well as from Burma.
Too often, women entrepreneurs face barriers that undermine their ability to start or to expand their business. Some women can’t inherit property or businesses, may be subject to different taxes than men, and are denied access to banking or other services crucial to running a business.
The United States is actively seeking to help women overcome these obstacles by developing innovative policies and partnerships, advocating for women’s and girls’ education, confronting social, cultural, and political barriers to women’s full inclusion in our economies.
“What common sense has told us and what experience has taught us is that when women are given a chance to take charge of their economic and financial security, they not only take charge of their own destiny, but they change the trajectory of their families and their communities for the better,” said Assistant Secretary Blake.
“If we can tap into the knowledge women have of their families’ needs and help them forge an economic identity, families benefit, communities benefit, entire nations benefit.”