Australia steps up support for ITC’s Women and Trade Programme

5 October 2015
ITC News
A$1.5 million funding from Australia to help ITC strengthen focus on women’s economic empowerment in Indian Ocean region

Australia has announced that it would step up its support for the International Trade Centre’s (ITC) Women and Trade Programme with its focus on the economic empowerment of women and connecting women-owned small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to markets. As part of wider development package, Australia Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, said that ITC will be provided with A$ 1.5 million for programmes directed at women-owned businesses in the Indian Ocean Rim countries.

At an Australia and Seychelles co-hosted women’s economic empowerment event for Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) members in August which was attended by Australia’s Ambassador for Women and Girls, Ms. Natasha Stott-Despoja, MA –, there was an agreement to focus on practical ways to increase women’s participation in regional economies. This decision on additional funding to support ITC’s work in the region was seen as an important contribution to this.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said: ‘Strengthening economic empowerment of women in the region is crucial to improve the lives of thousands of people in the region, and to further our search for gender equality. Empowering women through increased participation in economic livelihoods is not only the right thing to do; it’s the smart thing to do’.

The Government of Australia will provide A$1.5 million over three years through ITC to help export-ready women-owned small businesses build the commercial linkages in the region in selected IORA countries. In parallel, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry will also work with sister chambers in IORA countries to support women entrepreneurs.

Welcoming the Australian announcement, ITC Executive Director Arancha González said: ‘I welcome this continued support from the Government of Australia. This reflects Australia’s commitment to women’s economic empowerment and confidence in the work of ITC in supporting and taking women entrepreneurs to market. With this additional funding we will step up our work with Indian Ocean Rim countries build the capacity of women owned enterprises to increase their economic and development footprint.’

‘The work in the region will also be an important elements in reaching the recent Call to Action commitment announced at the ITC Women Vendors’ Exhibition and Forum in September which aims to connect one million women to markets by 2020,’ she said.

The A$1.5m is in addition to existing funding from Australia to ITC, most of which is aiming to strengthen and empower women-owned businesses in the Pacific region.