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Gender Dimensions of Investment Climate Reform: Operational Perspective . Sevi Simavi Women in Business Program, IFC. Female Entrepreneurship: What do we know? How to operationalize it? April 6, 2011 - FPD Forum . Networks. Gender Specific Challenges in Investment Climate Agenda.

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gender dimensions of investment climate reform operational perspective

Gender Dimensions of Investment Climate Reform: Operational Perspective

  • SeviSimavi
  • Women in Business Program, IFC
  • Female Entrepreneurship: What do we know?
  • How to operationalize it?
  • April 6, 2011 - FPD Forum
gender specific challenges in investment climate agenda


Gender Specific Challenges in Investment Climate Agenda

Role models

Women have limited voice in public decision making

Expensive and lengthy procedures impact women more

Gender neutral laws can have gender-biased outcomes in practice

Access to information

Indirect: Limited inheritance rights

Interference and harassment from government officials


Direct:Male consent required to start a business

Legal rights may differ for men and women

business start up gender perspective
Business Start Up – Gender Perspective
  • Legal – Are there formal restrictions to run a business that are related to gender? (Lesotho, Cameroon, DRC)
  • Procedural – Time consuming, expensive procedures. Need for an intermediary. Demands for bribes
  • Logistical – location of the registry, ability to travel, inconvenient opening hours.

Yemen: Business Start Up Project

  • Findings from the diagnostics….
  • Only 100 formal female owned businesses (Limited Liability Companies) out of a total of 3,600 companies – less than 3%.
  • 1. Formal Sector Responses (Barriers faces while registering businesses)
  • Lack of knowledge of registration process and required documents
  • Non transparent procedures and fees create opportunities for bribes
  • 80% of respondents registered themselves without an intermediary
  • Fear of harassment by male officials; preference to deal with another woman

2.Informal Sector Responses (Reasons for not registering)

  • Business women are unaware of how to register and the benefits of formalization in general
  • Lack of access to finance (beyond micro finance) The cap on amount of micro finance loans rises if a business is registered
  • Fear of tax rates and abuse from tax officials  The bribes from the informal sector have to pay to tax officials, are in most instances more than the official tax rate; however the women are unaware of this.
  • Cultural attitudes towards business women
  • Lack of business skills and access to networks
solutions to implement
Solutions to Implement……
  • Ministry of Industry & Trade agreed to set up a special window for female applicants with a female staff member to avoid the cultural problems of mingling with men.
  • Develop guidelines explaining the process for registering a business and associated fees.
  • Design a communication plan to reach out to business women on benefits of formalization. Messages will include:
    • Potential to grow/expand business
    • Avoid problems with the Tax Authority through paying official taxes
    • Possibility to access higher amounts of micro finance loans



Cambodia G-PSF in brief

Cambodia G-PSF in brief

+ 1000 issues raised (in past 3 years), important results in some sectors.

Strong coordination, with regular meetings and M&E system that track issues

Structure in place. Large participation of PS, Trusts, Gvt leadership

received high marks for organizational effectiveness & importance to the reform process. Private sector savings (past 5 years, sample of 9 reforms): US$104M

World Bank review of 30 PPDs worldwide (April 09): Cambodia ranked 1st in organizational effectiveness


But no women’s voice !

  • Less than 10% of participants are women while they make up 62% of businesses*
  • All co-chairs (government and private sector) are men
  • Studies found that women faced specific issues, that are not advocated for during the discussions
  • G-PSF can be a useful mean for women entrepreneurs to address issues they face in Cambodia
    • IFC + Ministry of Women’s Affairs (MoWA) hosted workshop for business women to
  • identify and prioritize policy issues that would positively impact the growth of women’s businesses
  • facilitate their implementation through private sector and government counterparts;
  • mainstream gender issues in the G-PSF

Provincial Business Environment Scorecard, jointly conducted by IFC and

The Asia Foundation, 2009)



Gender Results

  • Identified priority action items for business women and a detailed report forwarded to the chair of the PSD Steering Committee to be considered by the Royal Government of Cambodia. (Corruption; Strengthening women’s voice; Tax rates; Access to markets & certification of products)
    • A group of business women now regularly attend the sessions of the G-PSF to represent business women’s interests. As a result of their requests, import tariffs and VAT on silk yarn from 7% and 10%, respectively were cut to zero for a period of three years affecting more than 20,000 silk weavers in the country.
    • Representatives from each sectoral PPD working group engage with women’s business association to get women entrepreneurs’ issues on the G-PSF working group agenda.
    • Ministry of Women's Affairs has incorporated some of the issues in its annual strategy and projects.
    • A facebook page “Cambodia Women in Business” has been created, reaching 700 + women entrepreneurs, which profiles successful entrepreneurs, provides links to reports, facilitates networking.


alternative dispute resolution gender perspective
Alternative Dispute Resolution – Gender Perspective

Objective: Equitable access to ADR both by men and women

pakistan adr project gender results
Pakistan ADR Project: Gender Results

The Karachi Center for Dispute Resolution opened in February 2007. Since then:

  • 18 % cases referred for mediation and more than 25% of the cases successfully resolved at the center have involved women-owned businesses as litigants. 
  • 25% of the program's mediators and 38 %of the master trainers are women.  
  • Through the master trainers, the project conducts regular training at the local level, which has resulted in placement of female judges in 27 of 52 judicial positions.  
  • Mediation week in Karachi District Courts targeting female litigants, their lawyers and judges resulted in the release of $1.4 million tied up in family business cases in 3 days on average, rather than 10 to 15 years in the commercial courts.
  • The Superior Judiciary of Pakistan has taken full ownership of the project.
  • Partnerships with Karachi Chamber of Commerce, Women Chamber of Commerce and Women’s Development Department and other business associations. 
  • With the financial support of the Women Development Department, project will be replicated in 23 Sindh districts and Lahore province over the next two years.  
take away messages
Take Away Messages

Quick wins: Gender neutral policies, procedures




for more information
For more information…..