On March 1, 2023 an online roundtable discussion on Women in Trade was organized by the Astana International Financial Centre in cooperation with the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Kazakhstan to the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
The event was attended by the First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Amb. Kairat Umarov, Executive Director of ITC, Ms. Pamela Coke-Hamilton, Deputy Under Secretary for International Trade of US, Ms. Diane Farell, Deputy Chief of Staff, Ms. Michelle Czarniak, United States International Development Finance Corporation, Chairman of the Executive Board of JSC "AIFC Authority" Yernur Rysmagambetov, representatives of EBRD, WEConnect International and World Economic Forum. Amb. Zhanar Aitzhan Permanent Representative of the Republic of Kazakhstan to the World Trade Organization and international economic organizations was a moderator of the session.
In her opening speech, the Permanent Representative of the Republic of Kazakhstan to the WTO noted that the session was aimed at studying the role of women in the global economy and trade, as well as international initiatives, expanding their economic rights and opportunities for women. The Permanent Representative also noted: “Our commitment to women’s economic empowerment and to WTO initiatives that provide equal opportunities and rights for women was highlighted in the outcome declaration of the 12th Ministerial Conference of the WTO that was successfully chaired by Kazakhstan last June.”
The purpose of the session was to learn and expand idea of how women fit into the global economy and trade, bring attention of the audience to fascinating opportunities that are open to women in Kazakhstan and Central Asia.
ITC, the joint organization of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), promotes trade and global business. Women's inclusion in trade is one of the pillars of ITC's Ready4Trade Central Asia project. Ms. Pamela Coke-Hamilton in her keynote address noted that: “Initiatives like the “Women’s Economic Empowerment, Education, and Entrepreneurship, hosted by the Astana International Financial Centre, are precisely the sort of initiatives that can transform the economic horizons of women in international trade.”
In his address First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Kairat Umarov noted: “Gender equality is one of the priorities that we take into account in all our social and political reforms. Government's support to advance gender equality could not have come at a better time, and I do trust that with initiatives as today's round table that brings everyone together will lead to practical outcomes for women and gains on gender equality results.”
The U.S. Deputy Under Secretary for International Trade Ms. Diane Farrell told the participants about the “Empower Her” initiative, which was launched in May 2022 by the office in Eurasia. This initiative includes a network to promote and empower women in international trade by increasing awareness among female entrepreneurs of business opportunities abroad, improving tools and services for women entrepreneurs and urging companies to diversify and support women-owned businesses. Since the launch 34 European and Eurasian chains and close to 90 U.S. companies operating in the region have signed a declaration of support for women's economic empowerment.
In her remarks Ms. Michelle Czarniak highlighted that: “DFC is the U.S. Government’s development finance institution. We are proud that through many of our investments we are working to advance gender equity and financial inclusion, including supporting women’s economic participation and women entrepreneurs.”
Managing Director, Central Asia for ЕBRD Ms. Zsuzsanna Hargitai, noted that Kazakhstan was the first country in Central Asia, where EBRD launched its Women in Business programme, under which over 100$ million were channelled to support women entrepreneurship to date.
In conclusion, the CEO of AIFC Authority Mr. Yernur Rysmagambetov highlighted the importance of such dialogue platforms to advance new partnerships.