Statement at the first International Conference & Exhibition on Women & TradeJul 13, 2010
Mr. Mohammad Nahavandian,
President of Iran’s Chamber of Commerce, Mines and Industries
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a privilege for me as the UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in the Islamic Republic of Iran to be able to participate in the First International Conference and Exhibition on Women and Trade.
We are all here because we want to be part of delivering solutions for empowering women and girls through promoting women entrepreneurship, and creating a platform for businesswomen to share their best practices and indentify new opportunities.
It is known to all present at this conference that women’s economic empowerment requires bold and sustained action to advance their opportunities and rights, and to ensure that they can participate and be heard.
To increase their economic opportunities, women need access to more and better jobs, a trade climate that supports them in starting and doing business, a financial sector that gives them access to financial services tailored to their needs, and greater livelihood and security in times of economic crises. This is especially true for women living in rural areas and vulnerable environments.
Securing women’s legal and economic rights and ensuring that their voices and priorities are heard and acted on are vital components of empowerment on UN’s agenda for development. Empowering women – the third of eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs); Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women- also helps to speed progress toward other MDGs.
The UN believes that investing in women in itself constitutes a breakthrough strategy in achieving development goals. The multiplier effects of these investments will increase the prospects of achieving the MDGs.
In my capacity as the Resident Representative of UNDP in the I.R. of Iran, I would like to underline that UNDP seeks to advance women’s economic empowerment through areas such as advocating for increased recognition for women entrepreneurs; supporting women’s entrepreneurship through training in production skills and techniques, business management and functional literacy; helping to certify businesses that adhere to equality standards in the workplace; and supporting efforts to strengthen women’s legal rights to property.
I am pleased to mention here that gender issues have already been incorporated as a vital element in all joint UNDP-national counterparts’ initiatives and projects. To single out only one example, I would like to mention here our projects run under the Small Grants Programme (SGP), most of which are carried out as a result of joint efforts by the Government and UNDP- Iran in empowerment and capacity building of women.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am pleased to note that the Islamic Republic of Iran is paying significant attention to its national development goals focusing on the empowerment of women. Iranian women have gained noteworthy educational progress as far as the quality, quantity and levels of their education and expertise are considered. This impacts their economic and social empowerment. In the recent years, Iran has witnessed a steady and sturdy increase in the number of its women entrepreneurs.
Overall, the UN is here to assist the national efforts made by the Government of Iran, in addressing the cross-cutting dimensions which influence the empowerment of women. Our work underlines expanding women’s economic opportunities; strengthening the legal status and rights for women entrepreneurs in close cooperation with the national partners including the governments, private sector and civil society organizations; and ensuring women’s inclusion and meaningful participation in decision-making to enhance development.
It is by making significant progress in these areas that we will witness multiplier effects across the achievement of the MDGS. Women are pillars to the realization of all these eight goals.
My message today is that investing on women and girls in various areas, including trade and economy and trusting their immense power in positively influencing the development of every society is a crucial requirement of our times. There is a wide range of tried and tested policies which can ensure progress. Key among them is the need to maintain a sharp and consistent gender focus and invest in women and girls. That is a breakthrough strategy for the MDGs and development– and will make such a huge difference for the women and girls we are all here to support.
In the end, let me wish you the best in achieving the objectives of this conference.