Warning over gaps in government support for women in business

A report has warned that women face a tsunami of job losses and business closures, unless government develops new policies.

A NEW report has warned of a “catastrophic economic impact” if government policy fails to support women’s enterprise.

Published today, ‘Framework of Policy Actions to Build Back Better for Women’s Enterprise’, identifies gaps in Covid-19 enterprise support for females.

The paper has been developed by the Women’s Enterprise Policy Group (WEPG), a UK coalition of female entrepreneurs, researchers, business support providers and social entrepreneurs.

It warns that women face a tsunami of job losses and business closures, unless government develops enterprise policy that is productive and fair for women.

The study has been backed by Women in Business in Northern Ireland.

Chief executive Roseann Kelly said it outlines how current policies have failed to reflect the extra challenges that female entrepreneurs and business women face from childcare responsibilities and gender bias, to access to finance.

“Women play a vital role in business as revealed earlier this year by PwC’s Women in Work Index Report,” said Ms Kelly.

“The index, which highlighted that women's contribution to the local economy is invaluable, demonstrated that Northern Ireland has risen to second place within the UK, highlighting the improved position of women in the economy.

“I am urging the NI Executive to acknowledge women’s valuable contribution and to give female enterprise a place at the table now before it is too late - this is not just the right thing to do but the smart thing to do.”

Professor Julia Rouse, co-chair of the WEPG said: "As our report shows, women running businesses have faced acute pressures during Covid-19. We know that women tend to trade in sectors that do more face-to-face work - for example, as carers, in hospitality and tourism or as beauticians - and that means their trade is only coming back slowly and is vulnerable to local lockdowns.

“Add to this school and nursery closures, and the threat of 'bubbles' and consequently support networks bursting when these re-open fully, and you can see the scale of the challenge.”

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