The prospect of sustainable development and inclusive growth is an illusion if equal rights do not exist. All of SECO’s projects have equal opportunities for men and women as a key criterion.
Despite all the progress made, women still make up the majority of the world’s poor – a phenomenon described as the “feminisation of poverty”. Women thus have much to gain from efforts to promote inclusive growth.
Equal opportunities for women and men is one of SECO’s key concerns, as most of the world’s poor are women.
Particularly in business-oriented projects, the gender dimension should be systematically addressed. This touches on social norms, legal requirements as well as gender-specific risks.
SECO works to ensure that women can access natural resources, vocational training, markets and services. In doing so, it empowers women in finding work and participating in the economy.
Goals and strategy: equal development opportunities for all
SECO addresses equality issues extensively in planning, implementing and monitoring its programmes and projects. As a general rule, no project should place either women or men at a disadvantage. SECO does not fund any projects that discriminate against or even exclude women on the basis of gender.
More loans for women entrepreneurs means higher revenues for banks
SECO works alongside the World Bank to support financial institutions in the Middle East and North Africa in offering more services for women. For example, this has resulted in BLC Bank in Lebanon hiring more female staff. The bank has developed new financial products tailored to the needs of women and increased the volume of loans to women entrepreneurs by 92% to USD 21 million.