Women in the Labor Market and MSMEs Day
In 2023, the International Council for Small Business (ICSB) declared a potent theme for Micro, Small, and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) Day: “Galvanizing MSMEs Worldwide by Supporting Women and Youth Entrepreneurship and Resilient Supply Chains.” The emphasis was significantly placed on women, not merely as a subtheme but as a predominant discourse, unearthing their pivotal role in the global entrepreneurial landscape.
Some met this theme with resistance, questioning the spotlight on women as a significant focal point for MSMEs Day. However, with the recent commendation of Claudia Goldin, a Harvard University professor awarded the Nobel Prize in economics for her ground-breaking research into women’s income and employment, the discourse seems timely and pertinent. Goldin’s research, which analyzed over 200 years of US data, revealed that the gender pay gap could historically be attributed to differences in education and occupation. Yet, notably, the majority of current earnings disparities arise between men and women in identical works, amplifying post-childbirth.
Addressing the Challenges Faced by MSMEs Globally
The global working environment for entrepreneurs and MSMEs has been staggered by multiple simultaneous shocks and crises, including conflicts, commodity dependence, geopolitical tensions, and pandemics, inducing social and economic instability. This instability renders MSMEs, particularly those owned by women and youth, extremely vulnerable to escalating inflation and supply chain disruptions.
Despite the burgeoning percentage and overall number of business formations by women and youth worldwide, these enterprises often face limited access to affordable finance, capacity-building support, partnership networks, and global markets. These challenges often hinder their business growth, trapping many within informality or necessity entrepreneurship.
Policies and Support for MSMEs: A Step Towards Inclusive Development
Policies that bolster capacities and support the development of MSMEs and entrepreneurship for women and youth must be prioritized. By addressing challenges, lowering and removing barriers, and providing an environment conducive to the growth of women- and youth-owned businesses, we pave the way towards achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 1, 4, 5, 8, 9, and 10. Additionally, it honors the “leave no one behind” pledge of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its SDGs.
ICSB’s Vision Materializing: More Focus on Women Entrepreneurs
ICSB takes immense pride in witnessing the materialization of its 2023 efforts, as more focus is now being accorded to women entrepreneurs. Our initiative to highlight the importance of women in entrepreneurship was not merely to spark a conversation but to ignite a transformative change in the entrepreneurial ecosystem.
The recognition of Claudia Goldin’s work by the Nobel Prize serves as a testament to the urgent need to address, discuss, and find solutions to the gender disparities in the labor market. It aligns seamlessly with our mission and further validates our thematic choice for MSMEs Day in 2023.
The journey towards empowering women and youth in entrepreneurship, especially within the MSMEs sector, is pivotal for economic growth, societal advancement, and a better future. It is the collective responsibility of global organizations, policymakers, and individuals to continue this momentum, ensuring that the endeavors of entities like ICSB and individuals like Claudia Goldin pave the way for sustainable, inclusive progress worldwide.
by: Dr. Ayman ELTarabishy
President & CEO, ICSB
Deputy Chair, Dpt. of Mgt, W School of Business