H.E. Melba Pría
Ambassador of Mexico to India
Over 40 years ago, the First World Conference on Women was convened in Mexico City. The summit gathered 133 governments and 6,000 NGOs, and was instrumental in opening a worldwide dialogue on gender equality. Today, the empowerment of women occupies a place at the centre of the global agenda; it is an essential component of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Mexico continues its unyielding struggle to attain equality between men and women. The World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Index ranks Mexico in the 71st place among 145 countries. There has been undeniable progress as 48 percent of Mexican women are active participants in the labour market. However, as the report mentions, there are still strides to be made regarding the burden of unpaid work and difference in wages.
Economic empowerment allows women to be better prepared to face situations of violence, exclusion and alienation. It makes possible for more women to take control over their lives. The vision of Mexico as a prosperous country requires women and men with equal access to the means for generating their own incomes and fulfilling their full potentials.
Mexico aims to accelerate the process of economic empowerment of women through the improvement of access to credit, the support of projects led by women and guarantees of an equal work environment.
Women entrepreneurs are essential for the Mexican economy, given that 1 out of every 3 businesses and 1 out of every 4 households in the country are run by women. Businesses led by women contribute in 13.5 percent to the country’s total gross output and constitute 19 percent of the employers. Women lead 36 percent of microenterprises, but only 5-10 percent of SMEs. There are challenges that women face in growing their businesses.
Access to credit and mentorship will be essential for female entrepreneurs. Mexico has launched the programme ‘Women SMEs’ that provides access to preferential loans and tools for business development. Only last year, it monitored 700 women in different stages of their businesses. Over 10,000 female entrepreneurs comprise the ‘Network of Women Moving Mexico’, a network of business development centres offering mutual support, access to information and counselling, present in 5 states and through an online platform for women all over the country. Moreover, in 2015, traditional schemes such as the National Programme of Financing for Micro-Entrepreneurs granted 86.8 percent of loans to women, and the National Fund for Entrepreneurs supported 7,939 projects by women.
In Mexico, a field for innovative initiatives is tourism, as women make up 55.9 percent of employment in the industry. The Ministry of Tourism developed the programme ‘Economic Empowerment of Women with MSMEs in the tourism sector’ and ‘Strong Hands’, which trains women in marketing and commercialisation techniques to help their touristic businesses thrive.
The most wasted resource in the planet is the productive, creative and transformative potential of women and girls. Mexico is convinced of the importance of empowering women as economic agents, and improving their ability to access markets on competitive and equitable terms.
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