keynote address at the W20 official launch event (en)
6 september 2015 - Ankara, Turkey
Prime Minister Davutoglu,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I would like to congratulate the Turkish presidency of the G20 for why we are here today. If the W20 is now taking its place alongside the B20 business voice as a formal G20 Engagement Group, it is because of Turkey’s diplomatic success in forging consensus on its creation. But it is also due to the determination of many women in Turkey, first and foremost Gulden Turktan and her colleagues in KAGIDER in cooperation with KADEM and TIKAD.
At the International Trade Centre, we look forward to working with the W20. Indeed, we have already started to do so.
Last week in Sao Paulo, on the sidelines of our flagship event on women’s economic empowerment - the Women Vendors Forum - we hosted a consultation with officials and businesswomen from several G20 countries under Kagider's leadership to raise awareness of the W20 agenda and galvanise additional support.
The W20 priorities: the right agenda, at the right time
The W20’s policy priorities are the right agenda, at the right time.
It is the right agenda. We know that economic empowerment for women creates social effects that endure for generations. We know that women invest more of their income in their families’ education and health than men do. We know that when women control a greater share of household income, that household’s spending patterns change in ways that benefit children. As the Nobel laureate Amartya Sen has noted, literate fathers often have illiterate children. Literate mothers never do.
It is the right time. As the United Nations family adopts the post 2015 Development Agenda later this month, the economic empowerment of women is taking center stage as an essential answer to the challenge of eliminating poverty in the next fifteen years.
It is also the right time as economies are grappling with the challenge of ensuring more and more inclusive growth. Raising the female labour force participation rate to the national male equivalent would boost GDP in the United States by 5 percent, in Japan by 9 percent, and in Egypt by 34 percent. Closing the gender gap would be something like adding a new China or India to the global economy.
But we also need a more inclusive growth. One that closes growing domestic inequalities. The economic empowerment of women is an integral part of the answer. In sectors as diverse as agriculture and engineering, a more diverse gender mix is correlated with greater productivity
At a time when the recovery from the crisis looks increasingly wobbly, we must seize the opportunity to bring women everywhere fully into the economic mainstream. We can’t afford not to.
Under Turkish leadership, G20 members are taking a step in this direction too, pledging to narrow the gender employment gap. The message for G20 leaders in Antalya this November remains clear: “Want to lift long-term growth potential? Invest in women’s economic empowerment!”
The multiple social and economic dividends from women’s economic empowerment are why connecting women-owned businesses – especially small and medium-sized enterprises – to international markets has long been one of our top priorities at International Trade Centre, the joint agency of the UN and the WTO. Why the SME focus? Because, as Prime Minister Davutoglu put it earlier this week, "SMEs are drivers of inclusiveness and global justice." This is why ITC strongly supports and has already pledged to cooperate with the recently created SME Forum.
SMEs account for the bulk of job creation everywhere. And close to 40% of SMEs worldwide are women owned. Indeed, ITC’s forthcoming new research report on SME competitiveness suggests that SMEs are the missing link to inclusive growth. Boosting the ability of SMEs to compete in global markets, and helping them close the productivity gap with their larger domestic competitors, would directly address income inequality.
Firms that engage in trade are more productive, more profitable and employ more people than firms that only operate domestically. This holds true for women-owned SMEs. Unfortunately, the evidence also suggests there’s still a lot of ground to make up. ITC business surveys from twenty developing countries indicate that only about one-fifth of firms that engage in trade are led by women. Firms owned by women employ more women at senior levels. But they also tend to be smaller, and thus less likely to break into international markets. And many women still remain in the informal sector.
As the W20 Priority Policy Paper observes, women entrepreneurs in far too many places face considerable obstacles, from unequal access to finance and productive assets to inadequate access to education and skills training. Women too often face workplace discrimination, or suffer the effects of outdated laws restricting their economic opportunities. Cultural expectations about household duties, together with social policy choices on childcare and maternity leave, weigh disproportionately on women entrepreneurs and employees. This is why the W20’s multi-pronged focus on empowerment, equality, and leadership, coupled with supportive social policy and environmental sustainability, is so important.
ITC’s Call to Action: concrete commitments for women’s economic empowerment
Advancing these priorities is at the heart of a Call to Action launched last week in Sao Paulo by ITC together with thought leaders and entrepreneurs from around the world, including W20 founding member Kagider.
With the near-term objective of bringing one million women entrepreneurs to market by 2020, the Call to Action sets out a comprehensive framework for governments, companies, international agencies, and other development stakeholders to make specific, accountable pledges across eight policy areas critical for our goal of integrating women more fully into the global economy.
The eight pillars of the Call to Action are: data collection, analysis and dissemination, trade policy, corporate procurement, public procurement, certification, supply side constraints, financial services and ownership rights.
All development stakeholders have a role to play. On data collection, for example, governments need to collect sex-disaggregated data about women’s participation in the economy. But businesses need to measure and report on gender gaps and progress towards equality.
Academics, meanwhile, have a responsibility to analyse the barriers to entry facing women in the global marketplace, and how to remove them for maximum benefit. The same is true for financial services: we will struggle to achieve gender equality in access to finance unless financial institutions, governments, regulators, and international agencies each do their part.
Corporate and Public Procurement: New tools to make markets inclusive
I would like to call particular attention to two pillars of the Call to Action that have become important parts of ITC’s work: corporate sourcing and public procurement.
Why do we work in these areas?
First, because they are enormous markets. Government procurement alone accounts for upwards of $10 trillion per year. Second, because corporations and governments can use their purchases to directly encourage women entrepreneurs and their organisations.
Today, many corporations are increasingly committed to increasing the participation of women in their supply chains. Our Global Platform for Action on sourcing from women vendors is a network of over a thousand corporations and institutions committed to fostering a healthy ecosystem for women’s entrepreneurship. But when we ask potential corporate buyers about the challenges they face in sourcing from women, they say the single biggest problem is finding eligible women-owned businesses.
ITC started up the annual Women Vendors Exhibition and Forum to help would-be buyers and suppliers, network and find each other. In last week’s edition in Sao Paulo we connected many first time women in business to buyers. We are proud to announce that next year we will host the Forum in Turkey in cooperation with Kagider Turkey.
But businesses need to be able to connect 365 days a year. Technology makes this easier than ever. But the right platform is critical. That’s why ITC, together with Google and the Brazilian tech firm CI&T ran a global tech challenge to create a digital platform and app to help millions of women-owned businesses connect to potential buyers. The winner of the challenge – a small women-owned firm from Kenya – was announced last week, and will now work with us to launch the app later this year.
Women face comparable challenges when it comes to public procurement as well. Currently, only 1 or 2% of the trillions of dollars in annual procurement purchases by governments goes to women-owned businesses. ITC is leading a global initiative encouraging governments to modify procurement rules and procedures to direct a greater share of this business to companies owned and controlled by women.
We have launched an online course to help government officials use procurement spending to deliver more for women without compromising on value for taxpayers’ money. At the same time, we have also launched Procurement Map, a free, online database that includes a country-by-country breakdown of roughly 100,000 public tenders. Since getting information on such tenders can be particularly difficult for SMEs in developing countries, we hope the tool will make the public procurement market more inclusive.
Let me once again congratulate the Turkish presidency of the G20. Both the W20 and the SME Forum born under Turkish leadership are key ingredients towards more inclusive economies and societies.
We hope the Call to Action can serve as inspiration to the W20. We hope to join hands with all of you and contribute with initiatives that will help bring 1 million women entrepreneurs to market by 2020, and set the stage for many more to follow in their footsteps in the years to come.
Thank you. Teşekkür ederim.