Ireland and ILO host forum to encourage women entrepreneurs in developing countries

Education and access to credit are critical to ensuring that women in the developing world can start small businesses, Ireland's Minister for Trade and Development Joe Costello and Guy Ryder, Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO) said.

Press release | 15 February 2013
DUBLIN - Speaking at a forum on women's entrepreneurship in Dublin, Minister Costello said women in the developing world were far more likely to work in vulnerable sectors, such as unpaid domestic work and casual farm labour.

Co-hosted by Irish Aid and the ILO and chaired by Newstalk journalist Orla Barry, the forum highlighted factors which prevent women from fully participating in the economy, including land ownership rights and lack of access to credit. The discussion focused on the most vulnerable women, including those with disabilities, poor migrants, domestic workers and younger women.

“Education of girls is one of the most powerful ways of ensuring women can fully participate in society, including in the workforce. Education provides women with the knowledge, skills and self confidence to seek out economic opportunities.

“Access to quality maternal and reproductive healthcare is also vital, as is ensuring that women are involved in decision-making at all levels of society.

“Since 2001, Irish Aid has funded ILO programmes to support people in developing countries to secure decent employment and incomes. I welcome their focus on encouraging women’s entrepreneurship because we know that when women can earn incomes, accumulate savings and have control over resources, they put their families first. Even small resources can make a significant difference,” Minister Costello said.

“Ireland and the ILO have a long history of partnership and a shared vision of cooperation for development that gives particular attention to the vulnerable and disadvantaged groups,” said Mr. Ryder. “Investing in women is one of the most effective means of increasing equality and promoting inclusive and sustainable economic growth. The fight against discrimination in employment and the promotion of entrepreneurship among women have been central to the Irish Aid-ILO Partnership Programme, alongside protection from exploitation in the forms of forced labour and child labour.”

In addition to Guy Ryder, contributors to the forum included Yetnebersh Nigussie, Director of the Ethiopian Centre for Disability and Development, David Joyce of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, Kara McGann of the Irish Business and Employers Confederation, Tom Crowley of Irish charity Trócaire, and Barbara Murray, Coordinator of the ILO’s Disability Programme.

For further information contact Pawel Gmyrek, Partnerships and Development Cooperation Department, +41 22 799 84 81.