(The Southern African Times) – World Trade Organization Director-General Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala called on authorities to eliminate barriers facing businesses, especially those owned by women, to stimulate economic growth post-COVID-19.
Okonjo-Iweala made the call during a meeting with women entrepreneurs and representatives of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) as she concluded her three-day visit to Nigeria.
Okonjo-Iweala noted that challenges facing women and MSMEs had been worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Lowering the obstacles for businesses of all sizes, and especially women-owned businesses, to participate in international trade would help build back a better economy for everyone after this crisis,” Okonjo-Iweala said.
Okonjo-Iweala said linking MSMEs, especially women-owned businesses, to regional and international market opportunities was crucial as more people will then benefit from trade. This, in turn, she added, will improve living standards and create jobs.
A report published by UN Women last year revealed the pandemic will push 96 million people into extreme poverty by 2021, 47 million of whom are women and girls.
The report also noted the pandemic and measures to prevent its spread were forcing a disproportionate increase in women’s unemployment, compared to men, while reducing their overall working time.
(With input from agencies)