At the United Nations 59th Commission on the Status of Women, UNCDF, UNDP, UN Women and the Government of Sweden co-hosted an event on gender and local economic development entitled “ Gender and Local Economic Development: Unlocking Domestic Capital for Women’s Economic Empowerment & Entrepreneurship.”
“When women have skills and opportunities - particularly in the LDCs - they contribute to business prosperity and economic growth” , said H.E. Åsa Regnér Minister for Children, the Elderly and Gender Equality, Ministry of Health and Social Affairs of Sweden in her opening remarks.
The event addressed some of the constraints linked to gender and local economic development and served as a platform to discuss innovative and transformative solutions to unlock domestic capital for women’s economic empowerment and entrepreneurship at the local level in LDCs. “ It is at the local level that empowerment, economic acceleration, and participation happens, and where stepped up capital investment in financial inclusion, local infrastructure, and entrepreneurship can drive changes in the real economy for women.” added Judith Karl, UNCDF Executive Secretary.
Speakers included H.E. Åsa Regnér, Minister for Children, the Elderly and Gender Equality, Sweden; Judith Karl, UNCDF Executive Secretary; H.E. Mr. Tuvako Nathaniel Manongi, Permanent Representative of the United Republic of Tanzania; H.E. Dr. K. Kellie Leitch, Minister of Labour and Minister of the Status of Women, Canada; and Luna Shamsuddoha, CEO of Dohatec, Bangladesh.
Interventions from different speakers highlighted the importance of leveraging domestic resources for gender-sensitive local economic investments that have measurable and transformative impacts on the livelihoods of local communities, such as increasing women’s employment and productive capacities, expanding business and market development, and securing the positive spillovers that these investments can generate.
Recognizing that a blend of gender-sensitive public and private investment will be required to meet the needs of local development, UNCDF, UNDP and UN Women have designed the Inclusive and Equitable Local Development (IELD) programme, which works in harmony with on-going local development programmes to test ways of unlocking private finance for potentially transformative infrastructure projects that would benefit women.
"We made a great progress on the achievement of MDGs, but still suffer from weak infrastructure." said H.E. Mr. Tuvako Nathaniel Manongi, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the United Republic of Tanzania.
IELD, funded by Sida and the Government of Luxembourg, features the Transformative Impact Financing (TIF) approach to unlock domestic capital for women’s economic empowerment and entrepreneurship.
The conversation also emphasized the need for an enabling environment that supports businesses development throughout the business cycle that is inclusive of all women and men, and especially youth. "When women succeed, our country succeeds, and we're also contributing to the world succeeding." stated H.E. Dr. K. Kellie Leitch, Minister of Labour and of the Status of Women of Canada, leading with example as the way forward.
EmpowerWomen.org , a global online community to connect local entrepreneurs with regional and global markets and policy advocacy was also presented to support economically empowered women. With the support of Facebook, through its internet.org initiative, this platform promotes collaboration, learning and innovation to advance women’s economic empowerment, in particular in the LDCs, where dire needs are still blocking further progress.