Afghanistan’s First Lady Rula Ghani and Adela Raz, Deputy Foreign Minister for Economic cooperation, along with a group of Afghan women entrepreneurs participated at the SheTrades Global, 2018 International Business Festival in Liverpool, in the UK, recently.
Organized by the International Trade Center to promote women in business, the three-day trade show brought together over 500 women-owned businesses from across the world.
In her keynote address, Arancha González, Executive Director of ITC, said: “By working together, we can reduce the estimated 217 years it will take to achieve gender parity. We can ensure that the 90 percent of countries maintaining one or more laws discriminating against women in the economy see reform,” she said.
Joining González on stage, Rula Ghani spoke about, among other issues, the activities and support provided by her office for the empowerment of Afghan women in general and Afghan women entrepreneurs in particular.
She shed light on the hard-gained achievements of Afghan women and the ongoing challenges.
The First Lady also talked about the initiative by a group of enthusiastic women activists which with her support led to the establishment of the Afghan Women Chamber of Commerce and Industries.
She stated that Afghan women are capable and resilient and stressed the importance of economic empowerment of women through encouragement and tolerance.
Rula Ghani said: “You have to grow within the environment you are living in. Each environment has opportunities and constraints. Technology can offer opportunities in societies where women cannot interact freely.”
Raz who also participated in a panel discussion entitled “Women and Trade: Future Trends” spoke about the current developments and ongoing efforts of the Afghan government for enhancing regional economic cooperation, regional connectivity, trade facilitation and women economic empowerment.
She stated that the Afghan government for the last three years has taken positive steps towards economic development and improving trade through adopting national priority programs, including women’s economic empowerment programs, the establishment of the Afghan Women Chamber of Commerce and Industries, conclusion of trade and transit agreements with regional countries and the establishment of air corridors with a number of countries in the region.
She also highlighted the achievements and challenges of Afghan women traders and underlined the importance of technology, online business and access to regional and international markets for the products of Afghan women entrepreneurs.
She encouraged participants to invest in Afghanistan, do business with Afghan women and share their experiences with them.
The trade show aimed to help businesswomen from around the world search for new trade and investment opportunities.
SheTrades Global also facilitated business to business meetings, hosted keynote speeches from thought leaders, high level panels, an investment challenge and workshops led by industry specialists.