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Guidance note for action: Supporting SMEs to ensure the economic COVID-19 recovery is gender-responsive and inclusive

UN Women

2020

Asia Pacific

Briefing Note

Impact Investing

Gender lens Gender lens investing Women's economic empowerment covid-19 response plan covid-19 recovery wome's SMEs recovery recovery response

Guidance note for action: Supporting SMEs to ensure the economic COVID-19 recovery is gender-responsive and inclusive

Guidance note for action: Supporting SMEs to ensure the economic COVID-19 recovery is gender-responsive and inclusive

Published by UN Women, this document illustrates how the challenges faced by women entrepreneurs in starting and retaining a business are likely to increase in the wake of COVID-19. Among these challenges are less access than male entrepreneurs to information and communications technology, financial services and assets, legal rights, business management skills and networking opportunities. Recovery responses to COVID-19, therefore, should include a gender lens when supporting small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs), as well as the integration of gender-responsive procurement policies to increase the numbers of female suppliers in value chains.

 

Highlights

  • The COVID-19 crisis is hitting Asian economies particularly hard, as mobility restrictions are hurting the key sectors of export-oriented manufacturing and agriculture, as well as tourism and hospitality where women workers predominate.
  • The COVID-19 crisis is hitting women particularly hard, as they make up the majority of those most vulnerable at work, and they often bear the brunt of increased pressures at home.
  • The SME sector is hit the hardest and women are facing compounded challenges. They are particularly vulnerable to the current crisis.
  • Women and girls in Asia and the Pacific spend up to 11 times more of their day on unpaid care and domestic care work than do men and boys. With these duties intensified during lockdown, women struggle to stay economically active whether as employees, self-employed or as entrepreneurs.
  • All SMEs have a limited capacity to absorb the shock of the COVID-19 outbreak because they have less inventory, smaller client bases, fewer cash reserves and more limited credit options than larger companies.
  • If women are overrepresented in disadvantaged sectors, they are underrepresented in higher-skilled industries related to the fields of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).
  • Many governments have launched COVID-19 stimulus packages that include specific relief for SMEs.12 However, some of that relief must be aimed specifically at women-run SMEs, as these are at greater risk of bankruptcy for the reasons outlined above.
  • Women in developing countries are 17 percent less likely than men to have borrowed formally, and in South Asia there is a gender gap of 18 per cent for bank account ownership.

 

Contents

  • BACKGROUND
  • THE COVID-19 CRISIS AND ITS IMPACT ON ASIA AND THE PACIFIC
  • WOMEN’S DOUBLE BURDEN
  • WOMEN-RUN SMEs AND SELF-EMPLOYED WOMEN
  • WOMEN, SMEs AND THE TECH SECTOR
  • SUPPORTING WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS
  • KEY EMERGING ISSUES
  • KEY RECOMMENDATIONS

 

This document was originally published on the UN Women website.

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