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12th World Islamic Economic Forum set to accelerate women's leadership in SMEs

Jul 30, 2016

JAKARTA, Indonesia - There has never been a better time for women in Islamic Economies to be entrepreneurs. There are more business opportunities and more openings in the employment market for women today. They are being recognised for their value in contributing to the economy and to enrich the workforce.

The 12th World Islamic Economic Forum, to be held in Jakarta from 2 to 4 August, 2016, provides an opportunity for women entrepreneurs to connect, contribute, and share best practices and personal success on an internationally respected platform. There will be sessions and panel discussions dedicated to "Empowering Women in eCommerce", "Restructuring SMEs and Improving Credit Access and "SMEs in a World of Digitised Trade", where women entrepreneurs own 60% of SMEs globally.

The Forum will also feature prominent female speakers who have made a success of the businesses they run, such as Shinta Witoyo Dhanuwardayo, CEO and Founder of in Indonesia, Faduma Aden, CEO & Founder of Jemmila in Sweden and Fatma A. Elmaawy, Managing Partner of Auto Village in Kenya, to name a few.

The International Labour Organization data indicates that, on average, the female labour force participation in Islamic Economies has grown from 1990 to 2014. In ASEAN Islamic Economies such as Malaysia and Indonesia, the figure sits at 45 and 51 percent respectively. The Asian Development Bank says that SMEs make up over 99 percent of businesses; and out of that, 60 percent of these businesses are run by women.

According to Nita Yudi, Chairwoman of Indonesian Businesswomen Association (IWAPI), "Despite these figures, opportunities are still missed by women, due to poor support infrastructure. This is in spite of studies consistently showing companies that practice inclusion at the executive level generally outperform organisations with male-only boardrooms."

A global study by Credit Suisse revealed businesses with just one woman on the board outperformed all-male counterparts by 2 percent annually between 2012 and 2014. Despite this, women still only hold 1 in 10 of executive positions globally.

"The only way for an economy to reach its full potential is through inclusive growth, to provide equal opportunities for women in business and in our workforce, and we must work harder to ensure those structures are in place, enabling women and women with family responsibilities to be in employment," Yudi concluded.

The Asian Development Bank predicts that eliminating gender gaps in employment could add 70 percent to per-capita GDP throughout the region over the next 60 years.

12th World Islamic Economic Forum set to accelerate women's leadership in SMEs

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