European & International News

UK MEP calls for more support for working mums

[The Parliament.com, Brussels, 04 October 2011] British Conservative MEP Marina Yannakoudakis has called for more support to allow working mothers and other women to start up or grow their small businesses.

Speaking at the Tory conference in Manchester, Yannakoudakis said, "As a mother and a businesswoman, I know how daunting setting up a small business can be.

"Giving women fair access to start-up and expansion grants, while targeting women with the right information about how to launch a business can help produce a new generation of women entrepreneurs."

A report on "Women and SMEs", rafted by Yannakoudakis, was recently adopted by parliament.

The report includes calls for seminars and training sessions to help women exploit the "European progress microfinance facility".

She told the party conference, "Entrepreneurs of both genders have to be, by definition, focused on their enterprise and committed to success.

"In the business world those running their own companies are often far more dedicated than employees and put in longer hours; making personal sacrifices to succeed against the competition.

"For female entrepreneurs the stakes can be even higher as they may have to overcome discrimination in what has traditionally been a male environment.

"Many have to juggle their own aspirations to succeed alongside their commitment to their family. Even though we live in the 21st century, the woman is still very much in the forefront in the home, especially where there are children.

The MEP, her party’s spokesman in parliament on women’s rights and gender equality, said, "Yet in spite of all the constraints and restrictions upon them, women have proved to be more than capable in the workplace. Men still outnumber women as entrepreneurs in the EU.

"The USA is more advanced in this field, due to positive steps taken to promote and assist women aiming to embark on their own companies."

She added, "There have been many US government initiatives and an Office of Women’s Business Ownership was established in 1979, which is a formal part of the US Small Business Administration.

"Recognising women’s abilities in the workplace and assisting through media such as an EU report to strengthen their position is vital. This will not only encourage women to move into the business world, but also will ensure they move onto an even playing field where there is no room for gender discrimination.

"My report recognises the value of women entrepreneurs in small and medium enterprises, recognises they face many different problems in achieving their goals in different member states, recognises the contribution, women in employment can make to both the community and the economy of the EU."

Yannakoudakis, who ran her own successful small business before being elected MEP for London in 2009, added, "It also recognises that ultimately women have a right to choose the role they play both within their home and within the community they live in. The aim is to make this choice a reality through practical guidelines and best practice solutions which the member countries may employ."

She was speaking at a conference fringe meeting, called "Women & enterprise: A multi-billion pound opportunity", which was attended by UK home secretary Theresa May.

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