Contributing Lawyers

Canada

Cyndee Todgham Cherniak

United States

Susan Kohn Ross

Australia

Andrew Hudson



WTO Calls For Financial Crisis Solution to Include Women

On March 10, 2009, WTO Deputy Director-General Valentine Sendanyoye Rugwabiza said in a press statement that “women urgently need a gender-specific component built into responses to the international financial crisis to ensure they are not further left out of the shrinking credit pool”.

Admittedly, I had not given the circumstances of women in the financial crisis much thought as governments have been focussing on the big banks.

However, as pointed out by the WTO, women own 1% of the world’s wealth, have a 10% share of the global income and occupy 14% of leadership positions in the public and private sector. It is therefore no surprise that they account for 70% of the world’s poor.

Patricia R. Francis, Executive Director, International Trade Centre, speaking at the International Colloquium on Women’s Empowerment, Leadership, Development, International Peace and Security Colloquium (Monrovia 7-8 March) said: “If we truly want to tackle poverty, we must do things differently: we must empower women to succeed in business and trade, and change the business environment through policies that support women.”

WTO Deputy Director-General Valentine Sendanyoye Rugwabiza said

“Access to finance is critical to business success. Women’s lack of access to finance has been well documented. The global financial crisis exacerbates an already dissatisfactory situation of trade financing for women entrepreneurs. Women urgently need a gender-specific component built into responses to the international financial crisis to ensure they are not further left out of the shrinking credit pool.” 

“Clearly, apportioning funds to poor countries in rescue packages, and earmarking funds for women entrepreneurs within countries in stimulus packages and other responses to the crisis can help businesswomen survive and thrive. This better positions them to contribute to the financial health of their families and their communities.” 

This is something that the Canadian Government and other developed countries should be considering.  Where are the stimulus programs focussed on businesses operated by women? If governments do not expect to go back to the 1930s - when women generally worked in the homes and men generally worked in the business world, to would behoove governments to consider how they canuse some of the stimulus money to promote women in business in developing and developed countries.

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