International Labour Organisation (ILO) Regional Director for Africa, Aeneas Chuma says there is need to remove barriers for women entrepreneurs to access mainstream bank lending.
Mr. Chuma who was speaking in Lusaka today during the official opening of the National Women’s Economic Empowerment Jubilee Expo said although microfinance is a get-way for millions of women to enter economic activities for the first time, banks do not lend to women because most of them lack collateral.
He said there is need to confront the barriers that have led to limited land and property ownership by women.
“We have to confront the socio-cultural norms that have led to limited land and property ownership by women. Lack of collateral is the biggest reason why banks do not lend to women entrepreneurs and this must be a priority for policy changes,”, he said.
Mr. Chuma said policy makers must ensure that policies that promote women’s economic capabilities are put in place.
He observed that women also face barriers to start businesses because of limited access to entrepreneurship skills and capital.
Mr. Chuma said research has shown that measures to redistribute income and enhance access to resources can significantly raise productivity for women.
“It is surprising how policy makers’ perceptions of women’s economic capabilities are often limited given the profound impact that women’s labour has on economics. Enhancing women’s economic capabilities has major economic benefits in terms of productivity, labour supply and human capital allocation,” he said.
And speaking at the same occasion, Minister of Gender and Child Development Inonge Wina said the country’s economic growth has not translated into improved livelihood for rural women because of the gender inequalities existing between women and men.
Mrs. Wina said government has engaged various partners to help address the gender inequality in the country by building capacity for women entrepreneurs to grow their businesses.
She however noted that financial inclusion of women still remains a challenge that financial institutions needed to address.
Mrs. Wina said the Expo is evidence of government’s commitment to promoting the participation of women in economic development in the country.
She said her Ministry is also working with the Ministry of Lands to promote land ownership for women.
And United Nations Resident Coordinator Janet Rogan said although Zambia has signed Conventions supporting gender equality, the conventions have to be incorporated into the domestic legislation.
Ms. Rogan said it is only through domestication of the Conventions that implementation of gender equality will be effective.