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Op-Ed: Mind the gender gap, #ChooseToChallenge #IWD2021

IN promoting women to fully participate in all areas of our society, we become a better and inclusive world where everyone irrespective of their gender has a voice, responsibility and a seat at the table, writes Agnes Gitau.

Agnes Gitau

In commemorating International Women’s day 2021, I reflect on key areas that our society needs to address in our journey towards women empowerment in this interview with Arise TV’s Boason Omofaye (https://youtu.be/iwqi_vHyK2k).

Whilst there are many factors that discriminate against women, the humble opinion of my #ChoosetoChallenge is that by giving women equal opportunities to access education, healthcare, finance, security and establishing gender friendly policies, our women, particularly in our part of the world, will excel.

In this interview I speak of challenges that women face when seeking trade finance to support their businesses, this is of particular interest noting the role of trade in promoting development.

I choose to challenge the gender gap in trade finance

Women-owned occupations and  businesses engaged in international trade play an important role in  developing our economies. Such businesses create employment, add to government revenue and support the region’s economic growth and development. To sustain their viable operation and existence, it is imperative to create a conducive environment for them to trade. Access to trade finance is therefore identified as one of the top three barriers to doing business that must be addressed.

A report by the World Bank estimates that 80 percent of women-owned businesses with credit needs are either denied or underserved, this is equivalent to $1.7 trillion.

The report argues that trade finance rejection rate is highest amongst women at 44 percent compared to their male counterparts at 39 percent, documenting  some of the challenges that women face when seeking to finance their businesses as: insufficient or lack of collateral, poor policy intervention, cultural and gender discrimination, lack of information on availability or even application process of trade finance, high interest rates; lengthy and vigorous procedures for loan application.

If we address these challenges then we will be well positioned to address the SDGs on women empowerment. #IChooseToChallenge the gender gap in trade finance:

Agnes Gitau is the Managing  Partner at the Africa advisory Firm GBS Africa @agnesGitau.

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