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Women’s economic empowerment: Key component for competitive and responsible SMEs

Women's economic empowerment

CBI CSR agenda 2016-2020

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and inclusive growth plays an integral role within the Dutch Development and Cooperation Policy. Moreover, CBI’s new strategy ‘Access to export for SME’s’ highlights the fact that all CBI activities have to comply with CSR standards. The strategy focuses on decent work, gender and responsible value chains. CBI is particularly interested in contributing to gender equality.

Women empowerment

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs believes that women empowerment can most successfully be achieved through stimulating female entrepreneurship and promoting decent jobs for women. The more women participate in the economy, the more women empowerment is encouraged. Their growing representation in the economy will also result in a decrease in poverty since the majority of the poor are women.

Gender equality

However, CBI is convinced that by economically empowering women this will result in a rise of their participation and positively impact national economies. Investing in decent jobs for women will result in a productivity increase within businesses and will reduces the number of employees that quit due to a hazardous work environment. Furthermore, facilitating equal opportunities for women is a priority to CBI, because gender equality is a fundamental human right. Women are entitled to financial autonomy and a safe work environment to the same extent as men.

Tackling poverty

CBI is mainly involved in tackling poverty in developing countries through the promotion of export. The United Nation’s Global Goal 8 ‘Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all’ serves as the basis for CBI’s gender agenda. One of CBI’s partners is the International Trade Centre (ITC). CBI’s joins the agenda of ITC to contribute in the exchange of dialogue and experience, especially, with regard to stimulating female entrepreneurship in global value chains and to ensure that women can take part in international trade.

Job creation for women

By solely focusing on the economic emancipation of women, CBI encompasses its results in a business case format. CBI strives to ensure that by 2020, 50% of the extra created jobs are entitled to women. To reach this goal, women have to be specifically involved in the CBI programme cycle.

Value Chain Selection and Analysis

Value Chain Selection takes into account which sectors contain the best opportunities regarding job creation for women. Also, CBI’s programmes have to be promoted among female entrepreneurs and their companies, in cooperation with organisations such as ITC and trade unions. Value Chain Analysis looks at opportunities for women and aims to increase the quality of employment by setting standards for decent and equal working conditions in new programmes.

Effective tools

In the context of implementation, coaching and training are seen as effective tools for promoting equality in favour of women. In addition, companies are triggered to create possibilities regarding female managerial positions and their benefits.

Monitoring and evaluation

CBI monitors and evaluates the defined goal. This includes counting the number of female employees who have joined the programmes since 2016. In addition, this also includes taking into account indicators that highlight the working conditions and issues women face, other than economical barriers.

Sustainable value chains

In conclusion, CBI aims at improving the position of companies in sustainable value chains, by encouraging them to create decent jobs for women. Because women are indispensable components to bolster national economies. This way, businesses are made more competitive by demonstrating the power behind female employment and poverty is tackled at the same time.