Dear Mr. Ali Akhmedov, Deputy prime minister of the Republic of Azerbaijan,
Ms Hijran Huseynova, Chairperson of the State Committee for Family, Women and Children Affairs,
Ladies & Gentlemen!
It is such an honour for me to say a few words on behalf of the UN at this International Women Entrepreneurship Forum.
I would like to thank the State Committee for Family, Women and Children Affairs for organising this event and for inviting me to speak.
I am happy to see among you so many women entrepreneurs, who are full of enthusiasm to take up additional business responsibility on top of their family duties.
I am here to voice my support and congratulate you and millions of other women entrepreneurs for your courage and success.
You have defied social expectations and stereotypes and operate in challenging environment often dominated by men.
Women’s equality and empowerment is one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
It is also integral to all dimensions of inclusive and sustainable development.
The case for women’s economic empowerment has several interlinked pillars, each integral to progress.
The expansion of women’s entrepreneurship in particular is an important tool not only for elimination of inequality and reduction of poverty, but also contributing to the Global Goals of universal education and quality healthcare for all.
UN Secretary-General Mr. Antonio Guterres also stated that Economic empowerment is a necessary condition to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
Studies show that, if women were able to participate equally in the economy, global GDP could increase by 26 per cent – the equivalent of $12 trillion dollars – by 2025, but unfortunately only 50 per cent of women of working age, worldwide are in the labour force – compared to 77 per cent of men.
In addition, women tend to be concentrated in informal and precarious employment, and they are paid on average 23 per cent less than men and carry out at least 2.5 times more unpaid household and care work.
There are still countries where gender discrimination is part of legal and social norms, and where women do not have the right to divorce, inherit property, own or rent land, or access credit, which is putting a huge constraint on women’s economic empowerment.
Azerbaijan has made good progress towards gender equality and some of which has historical roots.
National legislation stipulates equal rights of men and women to engage in all types of economic activity, inherit, own and sell property, receive bank loans and travel in and out of the country.
Azerbaijan also joined major international conventions on women’s rights – the CEDAW Convention.
Despite considerable progress, challenges remain. Women are disproportionately represented in informal sector and low paid jobs. There is a great deal of gender stereotypes and discrimination that often leads to violence against women.
UN agencies in Azerbaijan are working closely with the Government and international donors to tackle these issues and provide new opportunities to women.
In rural communities, we help women gain access to resources, which were unavailable to them before, establish businesses of their own they couldn’t even dream about before and become financially independent, against all odds.
United Nations will continue to work with the Government, civil society and other partners to remove any barriers to gender equality.
Dear Women Entrepreneurs,
With your efforts you are making a difference and serving as a role model for others. Keep up your good work.
The world today needs more entrepreneurs. It is about inspiring more people to recognize that entrepreneurship is very important for the future of their societies.
Entrepreneurs, especially women, can be a real force for change helping to address the challenges of their communities in innovative ways.
Using this opportunity, I would like to congratulate the award-winning women entrepreneurs.
I wish you all a very successful Forum.