Women have a vital role to play in post-pandemic recovery

22 October 2020
ITC News

There are nine actions that policymakers, corporations and the global community can take to ensure that ‘building back better’ after the COVID-19 pandemic unlocks women entrepreneurship and creates more equal and sustainable societies.

As COVID-19 reshapes global value chains and policy landscapes, governments, corporations and the international community must collectively take steps to ensure a full and sustainable economic recovery. And women have a key role to play in that recovery.

That’s the main message of a policy brief by the International Trade Centre (ITC), the International Chamber of Commerce, UPS and Women 20 that illustrates how greater global cooperation and stakeholder support are a crucial part of the solution. The publication, Women Entrepreneurs: An Action Plan to ‘Build Back Better’ , spells out what can be done to ensure that the post-pandemic economy and society are more gender equal and maximize opportunities for women entrepreneurship. The result will be greater sustainability and resilience.

‘The current situation requires us to ensure that the crisis does not exacerbate existing gender inequalities that affect women’s access to resources and equitable economic opportunities,’ the four partners say in the foreword of the brief. ‘It presents us with the impetus to involve women as part of the solution for economic resilience beyond the pandemic, and simply because it is “smart economics.”’

The report gathers insights from governments, businesses and women’s economic empowerment networks about six trends in global value chains and potential scenarios that matter for women in trade. Political leaders from Australia, Canada, Chile, Gambia, South Africa and Spain share their visions about what must be done to unlock the power of women entrepreneurship.

Nine recommendations

The policy brief offers concrete actions for countries, companies and the international community to take to ensure a more resilient and durable future that takes gender-specific roles and needs into account.

‘If action is taken, businesswomen will be able to capitalize on e-commerce opportunities, profit from gender lens investing and have greater control over productive resources,’ the brief says. ‘They will contribute more to gross domestic product and have greater influence and decision-making power.

The paper calls on policymakers to develop targeted initiatives to ensure women are empowered to contribute to the recovery. Governments should help women access financial services, boost women’s participation in public procurement opportunities and promote solutions for continuity of business, it says.

Corporations can leverage their supply chains and knowledge to support more resilient and inclusive global value chains. The brief urges companies to step up women’s participation in corporate supply chains, use flexible supply chain financing options and provide targeted training for women-led businesses to promote resilience and competitiveness.

Finally, the global community must ensure that, together with climate change and environmental sustainability, gender equality is at the core of building back better. Central to this is strengthening global cooperation, recognizing women as the drivers of a new sustainable investment ecosystem and supporting digital literacy and use of digital technologies, the policy brief says.

‘The consequences of inaction would be dire,’ it notes. ‘More global cooperation and support from different stakeholder groups are a fundamental part of the solution.’