“Address by EU Ambassador to Nepal, H.E. Nona Deprez to the ‘NewBiz Business Women Summit & Awards 2021”
29 January 2021 Friday at Hotel Radisson, Kathmandu
I am honoured to be your guest today to celebrate the achievements of Nepali women entrepreneurs. I would like to thank New Business Age and their partners for organising this event.
I understand this is an event in two parts, the first one offering training to women entrepreneurs all across Nepal, and the second part today. I was preceded by very honourable guests discussing how policies and practices can best empower women entrepreneurs in Nepal, and now we arrive to the sweetest part of the day: the moment where we recognise the tremendous achievements of Nepali women entrepreneurs. I’m very happy to be here to witness that!
As you may know, Gender equality is one of the fundamental values of the European Union. And, in that respect, women and girls are always at the heart of our action. EU actions in the field of women's economic empowerment contribute to improving economic, societal and social resilience by recognising women as key drivers of innovation, growth and jobs, and promote a level playing field and fair competition for business and international trade. Here in Nepal, we are jointly implementing the EU-Nepal Trade and Investment Programme (TIP) together with the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies to improve the business environment, and that includes making it more open and equal to women entrepreneurs. The EU-Nepal TIP has targeted women economic empowerment as a high priority through trade capacity building, value chains in coffee and pashmina sector. Coffee farming is very labour intensive and predominantly women in -relatively poor- rural areas are engaged in these activities. An increase in coffee production will create new jobs in Nepal mainly in rural areas, particularly for women and youth, and therefore also redress poverty and out-migration. Also for pashmina there is an important opportunity for inclusive economic growth by developing the value chain further for export markets. This can contribute to economic development in remote parts of Nepal, has significant job creation potential across the value chain -specifically for women.
Across the whole world, we start 2021 with uncertainty, without a clear roadmap that will lead us out of the COVID-19 crisis. Because the COVID19 crisis has proven gender biased, looking at its impact on women-owned businesses, on the burden women are facing during the crisis, on their role as essential workers, the increased household load, and the increase of gender based violence.
The way to recovery is hard, with many hurdles, especially for women. We need to turn this into an opportunity to rebuild back better. It is more relevant than ever in the context of the crisis, to shape the coming economic recovery with women at its centre. More than ever, we need the private sector on-board. Its role in the recovery must pave the way to a more just society. We need to do whatever we can to fight discrimination and empower women to build back better for themselves, their communities, their societies; for sustainable development and for a better world.
Here in Nepal, we are at a key moment of the country’s history. We have tremendous opportunities, with a modern constitution reorganising the country and creating new economic prospects in the provinces, and the real possibility of graduation from Least Developed Country in the next three years. The country also faces enormous challenges, some shared with the rest of the world, from recovering from the COVID 19 crisis, to the existential threat of climate change, and some that come from Nepal’s specificity, such as the exclusion of many groups from the benefits of development, whether because of gender, ability, caste, ethnic origin or geographic location. That is why it is so good to see this training and awards rolled out across the 7 Provinces.
These challenges should guide our work, together. International development partners, Government of Nepal, public institutions, the private sector, Civil Society. Clearly, we are “Stronger Together” for Building Back Better to achieve a sustainable, green and just recovery.
Concerning climate change, the European Union has demonstrated its determination to lead the world into a sustainable future with the adoption of the European Green Deal. The European Green Deal will be the motor for the mid- and long-term recovery of the European Economy post COVID-19. The European Green Deal aims at improving the well-being of people through an ambitious long-term agenda, in which we will change the way we consume, produce and live by making Europe climate-neutral by 2050.
This is our modern economic growth strategy.
The European Green Deal extends to our work with our partner countries and long-standing friends. 40% of the world’s public climate finance comes from the European Union, and climate change is mainstreamed in our external action. Also, European Green Deal strategies, such as Climate Change Adaptation, biodiversity, food safety and the protection of the environment are already being implemented today in support of COVID-19 recovery, to address root causes in partner countries, and to build back better.
This is an opportunity to support Nepal’s green growth strategy towards a modern, resource-efficient and competitive economy. This can happen by turning climate and environmental challenges into opportunities, changing our modes of production and consumption to reduce waste, save energy, protect the environment, and basically live and work in a sustainable manner. For this transition, women entrepreneurs have an important role to play.
I do not need to remind people in this room the enormous potential of women entrepreneurs as change agents in society: you live it every day, you prove it every day. So I would like to end my contribution by encouraging you to continue to be the change you want in the country, bringing it towards a more just and inclusive economy, respectful of the environment and the diversity of our fellow sisters and brothers.
Congratulations to all participants! Your actions speak louder than words.