The Concluding Meeting of the 29th OSCE Economic and Environmental Forum is organized by the 2021 Swedish OSCE Chairpersonship and the Office of the Co-ordinator of OSCE Economic and Environmental Activities on 9 and 10 September 2021 in Prague and online.
During the hybrid event, forum participants agreed that women's economic empowerment is vital to sustainable and democratic societies.
The Economic and Environmental Forum is the main meeting-cycle within the Economic and Environmental Dimension of the OSCE. Its objectives are to identify needs and priorities, to raise awareness and to stimulate the political will of the 57 OSCE participating States in dealing with economic, environmental and security related challenges, to share best practices, as well as to provide a platform for dialogue with representatives of International Organizations, the business and academic communities, and civil society.
“By acting now and working together towards a more sustainable, inclusive and gender-equal development, we have a chance to curb economic and environmental security risks and build more sustainable, peaceful, and democratic societies in the OSCE region,” said OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs Ann Linde.
The Czech Minister of Foreign Affairs Jakub Kulhánek assured that “promoting women’s economic empowerment is one of the priorities of the Czech Republic.” “We constantly strive to increase women’s participation in public life,” he said stressing that any decision-making process “must involve meaningful participation of women at all levels.”
Ralitsa Zhekova, Executive Director of RAPIV, was invited to attend the Forum by the Ministry of Economy and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Bulgaria. She made a statement and presented the main recommendations for policy change set out in the Policy Agenda developed under the WOMEN IN BUSINESS project, namely:
- Creating favorable environment through applying one-stop-shop concept - creating a centralized platform related to female start-ups where start-ups, investors, educational institutions, accelerators and incubators, students and other interested parties could meet and exchange information;
- Establishing policy instruments and tools supporting women startups, including mentorship programs and trainings for business, digital and soft skills.
- Development a Strategy and taking concrete actions to harmonize the business environment with the family environment in order to provide support and relief to women in the form of child care, elderly care, family life and recreation.
Participants agreed that now is the time to regroup and re-energize to create a more equal, just and sustainable OSCE region, where women and men can equally contribute to the common good and security.
OSCE Secretary General Helga Maria Schmid said that gender inequality is persistent in all of our societies. “Women and girls have unrecognized potential because the gender pay gap, career opportunities gap and digital divide still exist.”
She referred to the forthcoming Stockholm Ministerial Council as an opportunity for OSCE participating States to lead by example. “With our post-pandemic recovery plans, governments adopting substantial commitments on women’s economic empowerment would signal our determination to leave no one behind,” said Schmid.
(Photo credit:Lubomir Kotek)
Strengthening gender equality is one of the OSCE's top priorities during the Swedish Presidency in 2021.