New publication on empowering women entrepreneurs through technology

15 April 2014

Empowering women entrepreneurs through information and communications technologies (ICTs) can play a potent role in developing countries' economic development. UNCTAD has prepared a practical guide aimed at helping policymakers and development practitioners to formulate more effective policies in the area of ICTs and women's entrepreneurship.

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Women's small businesses are important contributors to economies, particularly in the informal sector. At the same time, institutional and systemic barriers, and legal gender inequalities, as well as socio-cultural norms and practices, often stymie the potential of women entrepreneurship.

These factors may cause constraints in such areas as women's access to finance, time availability due to multiple roles, physical mobility, and access to education, skills and training. ICTs can help to overcome some of them, and there are also business opportunities in the ICT sector itself.

But assessing the status of ICTs and women's entrepreneurship is often difficult due to a lack of data as well as rapid changes in the ICT landscape.

Through a partnership between UNCTAD and the International Labour Organization (ILO), and with financial support from the Government of Sweden, this publication systematically integrates - for the first time - the ICT dimension in a framework for assessing women's entrepreneurship development.

It provides a foundation for governments and development practitioners to understand the key factors, challenges and dynamics involved in empowering women entrepreneurs through ICTs, as well as recommendations for future action.

"There is a need for more effective policies and programmes to support women entrepreneurs in developing countries so that they can seize the emerging opportunities made possible by ICTs. There is also the need for greater skills and capacity development for women entrepreneurs", said Anne Miroux, Director of the Division on Technology and Logistics of UNCTAD, on the occasion of the launch of the new study.