The event provided business training, coaching, and networking opportunities to hundreds of women across Europe and Central Asia, where one-quarter of all self-employed women lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
With financial support from the Japanese government, the Women’s Entrepreneurship Expo brought together more than 500 participants from 50 countries. Among them, more than 200 women entrepreneurs from a dozen countries in Europe and Central Asia connected with investors, private companies, and women’s business associations. Most of the participants came from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkey.
“Women are once again the hardest hit in a crisis, and the pandemic has exposed and deepened existing inequalities,” U.N. Women Regional Director Alia el-Yassir said in her opening address.
“Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, too many women in the region were financially insecure in lower-paid, part-time, and informal employment, with little or no social protection,” she said.
Globally, 82 percent of women-led companies have been negatively affected by the pandemic, she noted.
“As the world begins to emerge from the impact of COVID-19, boosting women’s entrepreneurship must be part of the plan,” she added.
Reyhan Aktar, the vice president of the Turkish Enterprise and Business Confederation (TÜRKONFED), said that supporting entrepreneurial women was more important than ever due to the ongoing global pandemic.
“We support the strengthening of women in the economy and also believe that their active participation in all areas of life is the most important leverage of a prosperous society,” Aktar said.
Turkish daily Milliyet was the main media partner of the expo.
Hurriyet Daily News