The International Trade Centre’s (ITC) annual SheTrades Global event kicked off in Liverpool, United Kingdom, today (26 June). More than 600 women entrepreneurs from across the world are gathered for the three-day event, which also attracts leaders from business and politics.
Opening the event, ITC Executive Director Arancha González called on policymakers and business leaders to step up work to make trade more inclusive. ‘By working together, we can reduce the estimated 217 years it will take to achieve gender parity. We can ensure that the 90% of countries maintaining one or more laws discriminating against women in the economy see reform,’ she said.
Her view was echoed by Max Steinberg, Chairman of the International Business Festival, who said: ‘Only by providing equal opportunities for women can we create a more fair and prosperous world.’
Ms González also used the occasion to announce that ITC would be scaling up its successful SheTrades initiative, which originally was launched to connect 1 million women entrepreneurs to markets by 2020. ‘Our partners have been crucial in increasing the reach, quality, scale, and sustainability of the SheTrades initiative,’ she said. ‘Through commitments with them, by the end of 2017 we had already secured 1 million. This is why we have decide to raise the level of our ambition to 3 million by the end of 2021.’
Joining Ms González on the stage, Rula Ghani, the First Lady of Afghanistan said: ‘You have to grow within the environment you are living in. Each environment has opportunities & constraints. Technology can offer opportunities in societies where women cannot interact freely.’
Moderating the opening of SheTrades Global, Julie Gichuru, a Kenyan TV presenter and also an entrepreneur, called on the participating women entrepreneurs to use the event as an opportunity to grow their networks and grow their enterprises. ‘Let’s do business!’ she called to a responsive crowd.
Meanwhile, Dame Stephanie Shirley, a successful British IT entrepreneur, held an inspirational talk for the attendees, sharing with them how she overcame barriers to become the 11th richest woman in the UK.
SheTrades Global will continue on Wednesday (27 June) and Thursday (28 June) with several more high-level participants, including Esther Lungu, the First Lady of Zambia, joining to explore how to make trade more inclusive.
All plenary sessions and interviews with women entrepreneurs are broadcast live on Facebook: facebook.com/ITCshetrades and facebook.com/InternationalTradeCentre.
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