'Women in business and gender mainstreaming' was the focus of a workshop held yesterday at the Cyber Tower 1 in Ebène. The Minister of Industry, Commerce and Consumer Protection, Mr Ashit Kumar Gungah, and the Head of ITC Women and Trade Programme of the International Trade Centre (ITC) in Geneva, Mrs Vanessa Erogbogbo, as well as other eminent personalities were present on the occasion.
In his address, Minister Gungah expressed gratitude to the ITC for providing assistance in the preparation of the National Export Strategy document as well as recommending the promotion of the role of women in business.
Mauritius after 50 years of independence, he underlined, has made significant progress with regard to improving women's standard of living and quality of life. Government is strongly committed in the promotion of women empowerment and gender equality, he added. The Minister recalled that the economic empowerment of women started in the 1970's with the setting up of the Export Processing Zone and that investment in the textile sector at that time created employment opportunities for women from vulnerable economic background and with basic education.
Minister Gungah emphasised that his Ministry has come up with a Gender Policy statement on gender mainstreaming in policies, practices and programmes targeted both at the Industry and Commerce Divisions. According to him, this policy statement contains recommendations to ensure that gender components and gender related sensitive practices remain an integral part of decision making process.
On this score, he pointed out that the workshop served as platform to empower women economically through their involvement in industry and trade. He invited participants to avail themselves of the different schemes proposed and to benefit from the workshop for an inclusive industrial strategy. The areas covered ranged from setting up of an enterprise to entering the export market, he added.
For her part, Mrs Erogbogbo underlined that women are driving forces behind economic transformation and no social norms and barriers should hinder them from fully participating in business. She further elaborated that the ITC endeavours to increase the participation of women entrepreneurs and producers in global value chains and to ensure that they enjoy greater economic benefits by participating in international trade. Moreover, she highlighted that sustainable economic growth and the achievement of development goals will be possible through the active involvement of women.
Speaking of the existing economic gender gap, she referred to the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Report 2017 which estimated that it will take 217 years for the gap to be closed, mostly because the gap has widened. To this end, she urged everyone to take effective actions so as to reverse trends and thus creating more opportunities for women to be involved in trade.
The workshop had as objectives to encourage women integrate the world of business by sensitising them on concepts of gender mainstreaming and support services as well as showcasing success stories. It also aimed at encapsulating recommendations for the preparation of a report.
The topics included: Shaping a new wave of entrepreneurship in Mauritius; Towards a conducive business environment regarding legal framework, permits and clearances; Laying the foundation for industrial and export growth as regards incentives and schemes.