English | Dzongkha Monday, May 20, 2019

Need more women entrepreneurs for economic development study suggests

Sonam Pem, Thimphu
Mar 8, 2019

Despite a significant rise in the number of Bhutanese women taking entrepreneurship, they still lag behind compared to their male counterparts. As per a study conducted on the growth of Women Micro and Small Enterprises last year, the growth is largely in numbers but not in terms of business innovation and progression.

The study mentioned that women-owned and managed only 35.5 % of the registered micro, small and medium enterprises as per 2016 Department of Cottage and Small Industries (DCSI) report.

While the number is a considerable accomplishment, a huge number of women still operate their enterprises informally and at the micro level. And this remains a major concern as per the study.

“The majority of people engaged in entrepreneurship are in the unorganized sectors which are often referred to as the informal sector. So when you are talking about the informal sector, there is no documented data,” Damchoe Dem, the CEO of Bhutan Association of Women Entrepreneurs(BAOWE), said.

“If you look at the engagement of women, mostly women are entrepreneurs but what are they doing? Had they succeeded? There’s no data. How will you go forward without data, how do you know you have succeeded?”

The study has found that the main motivations for women to participate in economic activities are not only to earn a livelihood, but also to enhance their social and economic status.

Obstacles that need immediate attention are poor access to finance, labour shortage, inadequate business skills, competitions among similar enterprises according to the study. Lack of proper business premises, lack of formal education and lack of training opportunities are also some of the challenges.

“We need to create a formal platform, where women can come and drop in with their questions, where they can sit in the comfort of a friendly environment and discuss our issues and our problems. I think it will go a long way in solving problems because of networking, “Damchoe Dem said.

The study suggests that there is need to close the gap in terms of their economic participation and achievement between men and women, promote formal economic entrepreneurship among women and facilitate their advancement from micro-enterprises to small and then towards medium and large enterprises.

The 2018 Global Gender Gap Report has ranked Bhutan at the 122nd position out of 149 countries at a global index. Global Gender Gap report provides a comprehensive overview of the current state of the global gender gap and efforts and insights to close it.

In terms of economic participation and opportunity and political empowerment, Bhutan ranks 104th and 138th respectively. This means there is a gender disparity in terms of women opportunities and participation in economic activities and in political empowerment.

Calling to accelerate a gender-balanced world, this year’s International Women’s Day encourages a balance between men and women in all aspects.

In Bhutan, it is the economic participation and opportunity that calls for a balance. This is because women’s economic participation holds a huge potential to address a host of national development issues such as poverty, unemployment, inequitable distribution of wealth and imbalanced regional development.

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