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63rd Session CSW – Side Event on “Advancing Social Entrepreneurship As A Women Economic Empowerment Enabler”

Opening Remarks delivered by Ambassador Mariangela Zappia, Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations, at the CSW 63 – Side Event on “Advancing Social Entrepreneurship As A Women Economic Empowerment Enabler” —

Madame Minister,

Dear Colleagues,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good afternoon everyone, and welcome to this event that gives us the extraordinary opportunity to explore and discuss a topic that is very dear to my Country.

I thank the authorities of Albania for making this event possible. I also thank the representatives of Greece and UN Women, today’s speakers, and all those who have contributed to making this event possible. We are proud to be here with Albania and Greece, as we share a common heritage, as well as a common destiny, with these Countries.

In this session, the CSW is considering the connection between gender equality and social protection.

Italy has long time ago understood how important it is that women have economic empowerment. This is really essential and the combination of women and enterprise is the best way forward for women’s inclusion in the job market and for their economic independence.

Our Government has put into action new instruments aimed at incentivizing women’s entrepreneurship by facilitating their access to credit through public guarantee grants, as well as by supporting access to credit for companies whose majority stakeholders are women and for women who are self-employed.

Italy has also directed its efforts toward the economic empowerment of youths, enacting measures that offer financial support to young girls to realize projects of self-employment and entrepreneurship, initiatives for work-life balance, and mentoring and coaching programs that promote a culture of technology among young female students.

Italy also represents an interesting case for women’s contribution to social enterprise. Among employees of non-profit organizations, the quota of women is much higher than that of men. The most recent national statistics show that women represent 72% of employees in this sector, the equivalent of more or less 600,000 women. This is an even more remarkable figure if one considers that the quota of female employees in other enterprises – just skims 30%. There is really a difference.

What is more is that 3/4s of non-for-profit employees have higher levels of education and skills compared to profit-making businesses. In a Country like Italy, where the demand for social services and protection is very high, the capacity to give an effective response in terms of entrepreneurship and participation is in itself a tool for the protection of its citizens, and namely women.

Women are not only beneficiaries of these services, but are on average more prepared and active in the field, particularly able to shape work in social enterprise. For this reason, there is generally more flexibility and balance between work and family needs in the non-profit sector, which enables women not only to have access to the job market, but also to go back to the job market which is something that does not always happen in the for-profit businesses .

In conclusion, social entrepreneurship offers women opportunities for a career path with greater qualifications, stability and flexibility, ultimately enabling them to best express their full potential, and is thus a perspective that all Countries should consider of great interest.

Thank you.