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Unleashing the Power of Women Entrepreneurs in a Post-Pandemic World

The COVID-19 pandemic posed unprecedented challenges that impacted global economies and societies greatly, hitting certain sectors particularly harder.

The pandemic led to setbacks for business women, especially within micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) across industries like tourism, agriculture, and food services. This resulted in increased unemployment, which in return exacerbated poverty and insecurity for women, particularly for those in informal economies.

The pandemic's harsh impact on female entrepreneurs, exacerbated by their roles in caregiving and frontline work, demanded urgent attention.

For nations worldwide looking to promote women’s meaningful participation in the economy and its recovery, it is vital that they embrace and implement a holistic approach to the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

These ecosystems have frequently proven to inadequately support female entrepreneurs, hindering their access to finance, markets, and the overall extended benefits from those entrepreneurial environments.

Similarly, trade agreements, though often perceived and even possibly designed to be “gender-neutral”, can still disproportionately impact men and women entrepreneurs and provide unequal access to resources.

Addressing this disparity through gender-infused entrepreneurship policies and promote real gender equality and economic growth, is essential to comprehensively evaluate the impact of trade policies on both genders and consequently narrow the gender gap.

Recognising that the pandemic's effects were far from gender-neutral is crucial to rectify pre-existing inequalities through gender-sensitive recovery policies. Past evidence suggests that stimulus packages and trade agreements lacked gender equity considerations and therefore the access to them was not available to the overall entrepreneur’s network.

To facilitate the collective recovery and readiness for future economic and social crisis, policymakers must adopt a gender lens when designing stimulus and trade policies. The gendered nature of entrepreneurial ecosystems should be acknowledged and inclusion of all entrepreneurs, regardless of gender, especially in underrepresented and underserved sectors is key to unlocking their full potential. Targeted policy interventions covering regulatory, financial, and skill-oriented aspects can pave the way for enhanced gender inclusion.

Moving forward and as the world rebuilds post-COVID-19, leveraging the untapped potential of women entrepreneurs is paramount. By nurturing an inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystem and implementing gender-responsive policies, these entrepreneurs can help shape a resilient and equitable future.

Policymakers have a unique opportunity to embrace this approach and create a world where women's contributions are valued and celebrated, a crucial step toward achieving sustainable and inclusive development goals.