Istanbul, 25 March 2010
Turkey is paving the way for women entrepreneurship. The Assembly of European Regions (AER) has held a conference in Istanbul with the objective of advising regional politicians and officers on their policy on women entrepreneurship. The conference has examined this issue from a practical perspective by presenting relevant studies and examples of women running a business. Its main purpose was to create an understanding concerning women entrepreneurship and to discuss how regional actors can encourage and support female business starters.
“In order to encourage more women to consider working self-employed and supporting them when starting their own company, we need to understand the situation and any specific approach, women have towards business start-up. This is not just a question of equal opportunities but of utmost importance for the prosperity of our regions”, said Håkan Sandgren, President of AER Committee on Economy and Regional Development and County Councillor of Jönköping (S).
The conference highlighted the inequalities facing female workers when it comes down to creating their own businesses. According to a research conducted by Eurostat, in 2005 only 8,6% of the total number of women in work were self-employed, not even the half of the proportion of self-employed men. The reasons behind this reality include less access to credit and larger markets, lack of networks needed to facilitate business development and most importantly, traditional attitudes towards the gender role.
It is in the social and economic interest of the regions to make the most of the untapped potential of female workers, support women entrepreneurs and close the gender gap in the traditional market. “First and foremost, we need to work very hard on changing mentalities and on implementing policies aiming at a better work-life balance. Then, there are very practical steps to be taken by regions. Regions can for instance provide specific training for women in order to help them start their businesses. They can set up help-desks to advice them on legal or financial issues, assisting them in starting or expanding their businesses. It is very important to fight against the confinement of women entrepreneurs and offer them a place where they can go to when faced with business questions”, said Monica Carlsson, President of the AER Standing Committee on Equal Opportunities and County Council Commissioner of Norrbotten (S).
Certainly, the conference only marks the beginning of AER’s project on women entrepreneurship. The AER member regions will proceed to apply the knowledge acquired through the conference and transform it into concrete projects. “It is of great importance for our region to be a motor regarding women entrepreneurship. This is why we will host an AER Training Academy in Istanbul on 3 and 4 June of this year, where several support schemes from different European regions will be exposed in order to help regional politicians to develop their own support programmes”, concluded Orhan Albayrak, Vice president of the Istanbul Provincial Council.
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