At CSW63, Social Entrepreneurship for Women’s Economic Empowerment

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Mariangela Zappia/Flickr

NEW YORK, MARCH 12– Italy’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Mariangela Zappia, gave opening remarks in a side-event on social entrepreneurship as an agent for Women’s economic empowerment. The event was organized by Italy, Greece, Albania, and UN WOMEN as part of the 63rd Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). In her introductory speech, Ambassador Zappia mentioned that “Italy has long time ago understood how important it is that women have economic empowerment. This is really essential and the combination of women and enterprise is the best way forward for women’s inclusion in the job market and for their economic independence.

Italy offers an interesting case for women’s participation and contribution to social enterprises. “The most recent national statistics show that women represent 72% of employees in this sector, the equivalent of more or less 600,000 women. This is an even more remarkable figure if one considers that the quota of female employees in other enterprises – just skims 30%,” said the Ambassador. Zappia went on to mention the importance of women’s inclusion in social enterprises, stating “[it] is really essential and the combination of women and enterprise is the best way forward for women’s inclusion in the job market and for their economic independence.”

Despite this and other efforts made in securing gender parity throughout society, women are still underrepresented politically, socially, and economically in their communities. This disparity represents a net loss of society, says Zappia. Italy has shown to be a committed ally in the defense and promotion of women’s rights and its participation in this year’s CSW will focus on women’s inclusion in social enterprises. The ambassador concluded her opening remarks by stating that “social entrepreneurship offers women opportunities for a career path with greater qualifications, stability, and flexibility, ultimately enabling them to best express their full potential and is thus a perspective that all Countries should consider of great interest.”

Yesterday’s side event with representatives from Italy, Greece, and Albania is not coincidental. Italy and Greece are two of the biggest sources of investment into Albania, put together they’re investments represent circa 120,000 jobs in Albania – close to 13% of the total workforce. However, this workforce is not gender equal. The side-events concept note emphasized that achieving gender parity is possible, stating that “the progress achieved needs to be promoted and consolidated. Good political will, policies, affirmative actions, and concrete financial commitment are key for ensuring sustainability and building good models which will enable social enterprises to support social and circular initiatives in a more transparent and participative way.