New Report Reveals How the Covid Crisis Could Set Back a Generation of Women in Business
Women across the world have been disproportionally impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic – a staggering 87% of women business owners say they have been adversely affected. Over representation in sectors hardest hit by the economic downturn, the pronounced digital gender gap in an increasingly virtual world, and the mounting pressures of childcare responsibilities are only a few factors that have left women particularly vulnerable.
In tackling this stark disparity and unlocking the fullest potential of women in business, the Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs (MIWE) 2020 report findings make a compelling case for building on targeted gender-specific policy best practices internationally.
Gender-targeted policies drive forward women’s entrepreneurial success
Now in its fourth year, the MIWE highlights the vast socio-economic contributions of women entrepreneurs across the world, as well as providing insight on the factors driving and inhibiting their advancement. Through a unique methodology – drawing on publicly available data from leading international organisations, such as the OECD and International Labour Organization – MIWE 2020 includes a global ranking on the advancement of women in business in pre-pandemic conditions across 58 economies, representing almost 80% of the female labour force.
MIWE 2020’s top performing economy is a prime example of gender-specific support mechanisms having swift and significant results. For the first time in the MIWE’s history, Israel tops the charts as the best economy for women entrepreneurs worldwide, advancing from 4th place in 2019. With an ambition to double the number of female entrepreneurs within two years, Israel’s success has been driven by a focussed institutional backing for SMEs – its ‘Support for SMEs’ ranking catapulted from 42nd place in 2019, to 1st in 2020. Similarly, Switzerland has advanced from 11th position in 2019, to 3rd overall in 2020, spurred on by sharp improvement in government-led support for SMEs (up 37% from 2019) and a resulting uptick in cultural perceptions of entrepreneurialism (up 45% from 2019).
Covid-19 has posed set-backs, but also opportunity
MIWE 2020 also provides initial analysis on the ramifications of Covid-19 on women at work, and draws out effective support policies. Although differing from economy to economy, those proving most effective include expansive relief measures for SMEs – from wage subsidies to furlough schemes and fiscal bailouts – as well as state childcare support.