Gender equality in the Mediterranean and the EU: Challenges and Recommendations
This article is part of the UfM Report: Visions and actions to promote gender equality in the Mediterranean
Women Entrepreneurs Association of Turkey, KAGIDER, is the most influential woman business association with over 300 members having 1,6 billion dollar annual turnover. KAGIDER, since its establishment in 2002, works for women empowerment through increasing women’s participation to workforce and women entrepreneurship. For KAGIDER, women’s economic empowerment is key to the realisation of women’s rights, and achieving a truly gender equal world. Economically empowered women have access to decent work, control over economic resources and manage their own time, participate in economic decision-making at all levels, and can access quality public services.
The wide range of the challenges in the Mediterranean countries varying from democratic transition to sustainable, social and economic development call us all for an ambitious global response. The European Union with its own agenda and challenges is meeting at the crossroads with similar challenges and should be able to use all its instruments and policies not only to address them but also to pave the way for civil society organisations and institutions working on the ground with grassroots. Full gender equality and women’s empowerment in the region involves local, regional and national compliance with the laws and in favour of women’s social, economic and political participation. Therefore the role UfM, together with all partners in the region, is ground changing and very crucial which needs to be strengthened with all the support and commitment that it could get from EU Institutions and national and underline their effect on gender equality and provide gender inclusive political solutions to those crises will not only contribute to peace and stability in the Mediterranean region but also would provide key solutions to the common challenges in the neighbouring countries and in the EU on areas as migration, security and energy efficiency.
At all levels, international, EU or regional the targeted goals around Agenda 2030 in particular on SDG 5 (Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls) should ideally bring all efforts to the core of the political and legal framework of the national and regional policies and actions . From a pure economic perspective narrowing gender gaps in work and in society would give the world economy a significant boost. As MGI’s research suggests that, in a scenario in which every country matched the fastest progress toward gender parity made within its region, $12 trillion could be added to global GDP in 2025 . To be able to widen the impact of the policy tools existing in the EU and in international level, we need to combine common challenges and common tools with a specific country tailored made as we share the similar obstacles globally, acting locally with universal set minds will be the key to overcome the challenges effectively.
Addressing socio-economic inequalities between and within countries, owing partly to the high unemployment rate, is a key concern for our economy. The number of women business owners worldwide is 392 million and for every 100 male business owners around the world, there are only 69 female business owners . Women business owners make up the majority of entrepreneurs in the informal sector and a large share of the microenterprise sector. As of March 1 2017, in Turkey there were 256,992 women business owners, compared to 190,382 in 2013, and the share of women entrepreneurs rose 15 percent from 12.7 percent over the same period . Yet, despite their extraordinary contributions to socio-economic development, women continue to be marginalized in many countries around the world. There is still so much work to do all together as we are holding our future in our hands. Our future depends on how we economically empower women and girls.
Sanem Oktar, President of KAGIDER, Turkey
Born in İzmir, Turkey, Sanem Oktar graduated from Marmara University in International Relations. She established her first company Tribeca Communication Consultancy in 1997. In order to expand her marketing services business, she later founded her database marketing company, directComm in 2000. She lastly founded Limonsocial Social Media Agency in 2011. She was one of the Top Ten Women Enterpreneurs of Turkey in 2010 and was selected one of the 8 as Women To Watch in 2016. She was also one of the 12 founding members of Turkish Direct Marketing Association (TDMA) in 2005 and served as the President and Head of Board 2007-2009. She has been an active member of KAGIDER, the Women Entrepreneurs Association of Turkey since 2010 and has volunteered in many women empowerment projects. In May 2015, she has been elected as the President of KAGIDER. She is also a member of W20 Steering Committee.