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Minister and ILO co-host forum to encourage women entrepreneurs in developing countries

Minister for Trade and Development Joe Costello and Director General of the International Labour organisation (ILO), Guy Ryder, today hosted a forum to look at ways women in the developing world can be helped to start their own businesses and build their own livelihoods to help their families escape poverty.

Speaking at the forum, Minister Costello said:

“Access to education and credit are critical to ensuring that women in the developing world can start small businesses.

“Education of girls is one of the most powerful ways of ensuring women can fully participate in society, including in the workforce. Education provides women with the knowledge, skills and self confidence to seek out economic opportunities.

“Access to quality maternal and reproductive healthcare is also vital, as is ensuring that women are involved in decision-making at all levels of society.

Co-hosted by Irish Aid and the ILO and chaired by Newstalk journalist Orla Barry, the forum highlighted factors which prevent women from fully participating in the economy, including land ownership rights and lack of access to credit. Women in the developing world are far more likely to work in vulnerable sectors, such as unpaid domestic work and casual farm labour. The discussion focused on the most vulnerable women, including those with disabilities, poor migrants, domestic workers and younger women. 

“Since 2001, Irish Aid has funded ILO programmes to support people in developing countries to secure decent employment and incomes. I welcome their focus on encouraging women’s entrepreneurship because we know that when women can earn incomes, accumulate savings and have control over resources, they put their families first. Even small resources can make a significant difference,” Minister Costello said.

In addition to Guy Ryder, Director General of the International Labour organisation (ILO), contributors to the forum included Yetnebersh Nigussie, Director of the Ethiopian Centre for Disability and Development, David Joyce of ICTU, Kara McGann of IBEC, Tom Crowley of Trócaire and Barbara Murray, Coordinator of the ILO’s Disability Programme.