It was something a bit different for the March All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Women and Enterprise.
We were delighted to be joined by the Female Ambassadors Group to celebrate International Women’s Day to discuss the advancement of women in enterprise around the globe.
Her Excellency Baiba Braze, Ambassador of Latvia chaired the meeting alongside Craig Tracey MP and guests included Ambassadors, Charge D’affaires and High Commissioners from worldwide locations such as Canada, Sri Lanka and Rwanda.
We heard case studies and perspectives from South Asia, Eastern Europe, the Commonwealth and Africa which confirmed that women globally are facing the same issues, although they may be for different reasons.
The Rose Review of Female Entrepreneurship found that despite the UK being one of the best places in the world to grow a business, only 30% of UK entrepreneurs are female and they are much less likely to scale up to larger businesses.
The UK comes way down the list of countries when it comes to gender parity, with only 6% of UK women running their own business, Canada having one of the highest at 15%.
Barriers, which applied to women from all nations, include access to funding, disparity in family care responsibilities, lack of suitable mentors and networks and a lack of confidence.
The Ambassadors that attended shared their own stories and were very interested to hear what the APPG were doing to address the issues. As well as contributing to the Rose Review the APPG will be publishing its own report shortly.
Penny Mordaunt MP, who holds roles in both International Development and is the Minister for Women Equalities, shared with the group some of the progress that was being made by Government although it is clear that further strategies are needed if we are to take advantage of the billions of pounds we could add to the economy by helping more women to start and scale up businesses.
All in all it was a fitting end to what seemed like 10 days of celebration and events for International Women’s Day, momentum seems to be gathering each year. I look forward to being a part of more IWD events next year and the publication of the APPG report into Women and Enterprise this autumn which will show how the public and private sector can support female entrepreneurs. Thanks to Craig Tracey MP, chair of the Woman and Enterprise APPG who posed with a copy of my book!