Female entrepreneurs need better access to childcare, investment and training to achieve their full potential, Yorkshire’s Conservative MEP said today.
Amjad Bashir, Conservative MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber, spoke out as he gave his enthusiastic backing to a report promoting ways of helping more women into business.
The report, approved by the European Parliament in Strasbourg today, notes that the European Union is lagging behind countries such as the USA and China in creating female entrepreneurs.
It urges the European Commission to address women’s entrepreneurship in its equality strategy.
Mr Bashir, Conservative spokesman on small and medium-sized enterprises, said: “Small businesses and micro-enterprises are the engine of our economy – but that engine will never run at full throttle if women are unable to contribute fully.
“There are almost one million small businesses led by women in the UK. Nevertheless, many female entrepreneurs will testify that it’s often not as straightforward a career path for women as for men.
“Women can often face additional hurdles such as childcare, training, maternity leave and access to micro-finance.
“Recent estimates suggest that SMEs owned by women make an estimated £50-£70bn annual contribution to the gross value added by business. Therefore the economic arguments for increasing the number of female entrepreneurs simply cannot be ignored.”
“I believe it is for national governments to do the right thing and for the EU to make sure best practice gets shared around. Several EU countries could learn from the UK.
“When is comes to equal opportunity it is far more useful to take practical steps in areas such as child care and training than to set arbitrary quotas for women’s representation on boards and suchlike.”