“Economic empowerment of women is the foundation for achieving gender equality, as well as sustainable development and the realization of the goals set by the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda,” stated Ivona Gvozdenović, representative of the Social Pillar of the “SDGs for All” Platform and project manager at the Ana and Vlade Divac Foundation, at the conference “Women Entrepreneurship – framework and opportunities for empowerment”.
During the panel dedicated to the framework conditions and support for women in business, which included representatives from the Ministry of Human and Minority Rights and Social Dialogue, the Ministry of Economy, the Serbian Chamber of Commerce, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Gvozdenović presented the initiatives launched by the Social Pillar of the Platform in the field of women’s economic empowerment and the monitoring of the implementation of the Law on Gender Equality. “The breakthrough of women in entrepreneurship represents a significant step towards emancipation and achieving economic independence as a primary prerequisite for gender equality. However, both women’s entrepreneurship and its development should be observed in the context of pronounced gender inequalities,” emphasized Gvozdenović.
In her opening remarks, H. E. Anke Konrad, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to the Republic of Serbia, highlighted the importance of recognizing the role that female entrepreneurs play in driving economic development and addressing the obstacles they face in fully realizing their potential. She emphasized that entrepreneurship does not begin after completing studies; it starts with empowering women in schools and even earlier, by encouraging girls to be ready to take initiative and become leaders, by building their belief in their capacities and talents for the future, and by following the motto that success comes to those who take risks.
Plamena Halačeva, Deputy Head of the EU Delegation, emphasized that women are the creators of numerous inventions and innovations, but gender gaps still persist. She stated, “Women entrepreneurs account for only one-third of self-employed individuals, and only eight percent of all startups are formed by all-female teams. However, a higher number of women entrepreneurs is crucial for economic growth. Equality and collective efforts can be achieved through a structural approach to change, and it can only be accomplished if everyone gets involved.”
Darija Kisić, Minister for Family Care and Demography and Deputy Chairperson of the Coordinating Body for Gender Equality, mentioned the particularly challenging position of women in the reproductive period in the labor market and stressed the need for concrete action to address this issue.
Brankica Janković, Commissioner for the Protection of Equality, stated that the Law on Financial Support to Families with Children had provoked justified discontent and public discussion because, as she said, there was a lack of understanding for the need to change it and ensure full equality for women in all forms of employment.
The conference was organized within the framework of the German-Serbian Initiative for Sustainable Growth and Employment and UN Women, with the support of the EU project “Key Steps towards Gender Equality.” It took place on June 5, 2023, in Belgrade, aiming to initiate a dialogue on women’s entrepreneurship, exchange experiences, improve conditions, and create opportunities for women’s empowerment.