Tashkent, Uzbekistan (UzDaily.com) — In Uzbekistan, special attention is paid to supporting and developing women’s economic opportunities. In our country, a lot of legislative and regulatory legal acts have been adopted and are being implemented that regulate issues of gender equality and the sphere of entrepreneurship. The successful implementation of these measures serves to achieve the set goal – to increase the economic activity of women in the development of New Uzbekistan.
Women and Girls Empowered (WAGE) is a comprehensive regional program aimed at creating and supporting associations of women’s organizations at the country and regional level in order to empower women in Central Asia to participate in economic activities.
The main goal of the WAGE program is to strengthen the capacity of civil society organizations, the private sector, including women’s business associations in the countries of Central Asia, to support and expand the economic rights and opportunities of women and improve the effectiveness of existing programs to ensure gender equality and combat gender-based violence.
The regional program has been operating since April 2021, bringing together women’s business associations and public organizations to identify and eliminate legal and social barriers that hinder women’s participation in the economy in the countries of Central Asia. In Uzbekistan, the program has been implemented since the beginning of 2022, in cooperation with the British University of Management and Tashkent State University of Law.
As a result of this cooperation, the Expert Council for the Development of Women’s Entrepreneurship in the Republic of Uzbekistan was formed. Currently, the Expert Council of Uzbekistan consists of 27 organizations, including business associations (including representatives of associations of women entrepreneurs), representatives of civil society, academic institutions and think tanks.
During the year, on the basis of the British University of Management, the Expert Council conducted research with the participation of women entrepreneurs, representatives of international organizations, gender experts, representatives of civil society and other interested parties. At the second stage of the study, members of the Expert Council held consultative meetings with about 700 women from different regions of the country.
Based on the results of the consultative meetings, the Expert Council developed the National Agenda for Women’s Entrepreneurship in Uzbekistan and identified 4 priority areas for the formation of recommendations to overcome the barriers identified by women entrepreneurs in the research process.
The main recommendations of the expert council are:
Priority 1: Creating an enabling legal environment for women entrepreneurs
1. Development of a clear and unified definition of the concept of women’s entrepreneurship.
2. Development of a mechanism for implementing the Law “On Guarantees of Equal Rights and Equal Opportunities for Women and Men”, ensuring its targeting and accessibility for women.
3. Development of a system of clearly defined indicators for assessing and monitoring the development of women’s entrepreneurship in the country.
4. Development of guidelines for coordinating the activities of state bodies responsible for creating a favorable business environment for women in Uzbekistan, and establishing their dialogue with civil society and women’s business associations.
Priority 2: Access of women entrepreneurs to finance
1. Gradual increase in loan amounts for women entrepreneurs with lower interest rates and more flexible collateral requirements.
2. Increasing the ease and convenience of using banking services, providing financial advice to women who want to start their own business.
3.Improve the user experience and usability of digital services.
4. Combat cronyism by increasing the transparency of lending decisions with clear guidelines and criteria.
Priority 3: Improving the strategy for developing business and IT skills, knowledge and awareness of women and girls.
1. Introduction into the system of secondary and higher education of curricula on entrepreneurship.
2. Establishing a dialogue and improving joint capacity building programs between higher education institutions and business.
3. Creation of an interactive online business platform for women entrepreneurs to provide free and paid consultations and recommendations.
4.Improved coordination between IT-related educational institutions and women’s business associations in order to implement programs to develop entrepreneurial knowledge and skills, financial, IT literacy, including various aspects of e-commerce.
Priority 4: End gender-based violence
1. Development of a policy to combat GBV and harassment in each company based on the Law on Guarantees of Equal Rights and Opportunities for Women and Men and assign a specific position in the personnel departments to deal with such cases.
2. Encouraging male entrepreneurs to speak out publicly about cases of harassment (harassment) and GBV in the workplace in order to change perceptions of this topic.
3. Introducing the practice of adoption in ministries, departments and private organizations of the Regulations on the prevention and suppression of sexual harassment in the workplace / the inclusion of part of the norms in the existing codes of ethics or rules of conduct in the workplace, which will preserve the anonymity of the victim and provide mechanisms to prevent such cases of GBV in the workplace workplaces.
4. Develop, to further integrate into school curricula, inclusive and accessible content on gender equality, including on women’s rights, women leaders in business/public life, and the harmful effects of gender stereotypes and gender-based violence and discrimination against women and girls, and the proposal of this project to the Ministry of Education for further implementation.
5. Raising awareness among media professionals, with the assistance of the private sector, to combat discriminatory gender stereotyping and objectification of women and promote a positive portrayal of women as active agents of development in the media.
6. Development and implementation of a comprehensive strategy, including for the online space, focused on community and religious leaders, teachers, girls and boys, women and men, in order to eliminate discriminatory stereotypes regarding the roles and responsibilities of women and men in the family and society .
7. Analysis of the causes and conditions leading to harassment and harassment in society, and taking measures to eliminate them, exercising public control in this direction, as well as promoting scientific, practical and fundamental research.
8. Strengthening social partnership relations between state bodies and non-governmental non-profit organizations and other civil society institutions in the field of preventing harassment and violence against women and girls.
In order to discuss the implementation of the recommendations, the Expert Council held more than 10 round tables, individual meetings with government agencies, and additional studies. For example, a study was conducted on the topic “Gender equality as part of the corporate social responsibility of business.” Currently, the Expert Council is working on the development of a manual on the basics of electronic
Commerce, on the basis of the manual, training will be developed and conducted for women entrepreneurs in various regions of the country. Members of the Expert Council conduct trainings on teaching financial literacy, IT, the basics of project management. Based on these trainings, an interactive e-platform for women will be developed. In the near future, a number of activities are planned to implement the recommendations under the Women’s Entrepreneurship Agenda.
The Expert Council is open to cooperation with other organizations, government agencies, academic institutions and the private sector for the benefit of the development of women’s entrepreneurship and the wide and active participation of women in the economy.