Women Empowerment: Experts highlight challenges for women entrepreneurs

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Sep 4, 2018-

Limited access to finance and the involvement of middlemen in the marketing of products produced by women remain major challenges for the growth of women entrepreneurship, leaders and entrepreneurs said Monday.   

Speaking at the International Women Entrepreneurs Summit 2018, Pramila Acharya Rijal, president of the South Asian Women Development Forum (SAWDF), said society was full of ‘insecurities’, and so the equal participation of women to achieve economic prosperity in the country was not possible.

“Insecurity comes when women are not self-reliant,” she said. If a woman is economically empowered, it will empower her to fight against social discrimination such as violence, she added. Rijal urged Nepali women entrepreneurs to look into successful enterprises which can be replicated in Nepal.

Vice-President Nanda Bahadur Pun said that economic prosperity and sustainable development of the country without financial empowerment of women was not possible. He added that women needed to be empowered from all aspects—political, social and economic. He raised concern over growing violence against women and underscored the need for pubic efforts to bring such practices to an end.

The prevalence of gender-based violence against women has considerable impact on the economy in terms of economic costs and loss of productivity ranging from 1.2 to 2 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), according to a study.

Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali said that the best way to end violence against women was to empower them financially. “Women in work or business not only help the country to reduce poverty, it also contributes to economic development.”

Despite the various policies, funds and legal interventions designed to empower women financially, they have been facing many obstacles like difficulties in securing loans to begin businesses.

According to a report entitled ‘Reflections on Policies for Women Small and Medium Entrepreneurs: Status, Challenges and Opportunities in Hindu Kush Himalayas and the SAARC Region’ unveiled on Monday, lack of advanced technologies, limited access to finance and credit, and the involvement of middlemen in the marketing of products produced by women entrepreneurs are major challenges for their business growth.

“A patriarchal society and high level of gender disparity, both socially and economically, has held back women from growing, starting and expanding businesses,” the report said. According to the report, women make up only 10 percent of entrepreneurs in Nepal and Bangladesh while in India, the figure is about 14 percent.

In Nepal, according to the report, there are an estimated 14,300 SMEs owned by women entrepreneurs which represents 2 percent of the country’s GDP. They employed 200,000 workers in 2014. A separate report of the Federation of Women Entrepreneurs Association of Nepal shows that there are 3,000 registered women entrepreneurs in Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur.  

The main objective of the three-day summit is to establish multiple collaborations and partnerships with a consortium of international and national organizations and address the challenges associated with advancing and promoting gender-responsive trade facilitation policies.

Published: 04-09-2018 08:36

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