Gender Responsive Investment Climate Assessment for Uzbekistan
On 17th May 2021, Westminster International University in Tashkent (WIUT), in cooperation with European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the Commission on Gender Equality of the Republic of Uzbekistan, conducted a workshop as part of the “Gender Responsive Investment Climate assessment for Uzbekistan” (GRICA) project.
The objective of the workshop was to contribute to policy and legal reforms aimed at improving gender equality and women’s economic empowerment, with a focus on women–led Small and Medium enterprises (SMEs) and entrepreneurs. The workshop builds on recent reforms and on the government´s clear commitment to gender equality. Moreover, participants in the workshop discussed the important aspects of current legal and regulatory impact assessment from a gender perspective, and distinguished between the frameworks itself and the requirements for its successful implementation. There was also a discussion on the current state of financial and non-financial services for women-owned Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SME) in the Uzbek business ecosystem
During the workshop, participants raised the question: why is an assessment of gender-responsiveness of the investment climate important and necessary, and what does this mean in practice? The speakers shared their experiences of the regulatory environment and available support system, as well as of the Uzbek business environment from their perspective as women business owners, and highlighted the priority challenges to be tackled in order to create an environment in which women business owners can successfully establish and grow their businesses. A SWOT analysis of Uzbekistan, including opportunities and threats to, and weaknesses and possible strengths of the current regulatory environment was reviewed in a panel discussion.
Ms.Malika Kadyrxanova, Policy Coordinator, quoted: ‘Entrepreneurship is one of the main pathways for women’s economic empowerment in Central Asia. As such, it is essential that women entrepreneurs have the ability to access the formal financial system. On this matter, the EBRD has launched the WiB programme to support Women entrepreneurship in Uzbekistan, as it plays crucial role in country development. This event will contribute to the project’s development, by raising awareness of the key stakeholders of the EBRD GRICA project, and getting them to buy into the idea, as well as to support and contribute to it. In order to achieve this, part of the workshop will include the dissemination of key information about the project, its scope and objectives.
Deputy Rector for Youth Affairs, Nizom Kadirov highlighted the university’s involvement in support activities for women entrepreneurs: ‘We have several initiatives here at WIUT, and as a higher educational institution we continuously strive to support our female students and graduates to help them develop their entrepreneurial skills. We have recently launched our Women in Entrepreneurship Program at the InnoWIUT lab, which is a great opportunity for those who aim to launch their own projects or businesses`.