Female entrepreneurs and businesswomen have the potential to make huge contributions to the global economy, particularly in international trade where there are currently far more male workers than female.
Pamela Coke-Hamilton, executive director of the International Trade Centre (ITC), said: “International trade is a predominantly male-dominated sector. We’re working on breaking this down.”
Gender equality ‘a must’
The IOE&IT’s director general Marco Forgione agrees.
“Gender equality in trade is not an option, it is a must. To make a significant impact, you need to have more women involved in trade,” he says.
The ITC set up the SheTrades initiative to do just this.
SheTrades provides female entrepreneurs with access to knowledge, resources, and networks as a way to address this gender imbalance.
At this year’s WTO Public Forum, the Institute of Export & International Trade (IOE&IT) brought four SheTrades ambassadors to Geneva, helping them display their products and services to a global audience.
The IOE&IT Daily Update caught up with Jessica Madrid Lugo, CEO and founder of Laser & Manufacturing (L&M), a Mexican company that specialises in sheet metal parts and assemblies.
Interview: Jessica Madrid Lugo, CEO and founder of Lase & Manufacturing (Mexico)
“I’m excited to be here in Geneva to show what I have done so far, my products and the capabilities that Mexico has to manufacture goods,” she said from the exhibition floor.
Lugo set up L&M when she was just 22 years old, knowing full well that she was seeking to work in a male-heavy environment. The company has now grown to over sixty people now, 30% of whom are female.
The Mexican businesswoman was a key contributor to a panel discussion on ‘Breaking into male-dominated sectors’, hosted by the IOE&IT in collaboration with the ITC and WTO.
“The subject was women in male-dominated sectors of the economy,” she said.
“I was really excited to share my experience and my perspective that women should be in different sectors. We should be able to work anywhere because we can really make a difference.”
The barrier within
Her parting message to the IOE&IT Daily Update was one of hope and hard work.
“I’d say that you can be whatever you want to be, as long you really want to do it and you are willing to work hard.”
Speaking after the panel discussion, she said: “we should be speaking more about talent, not just that we are women or men. We should be focusing on what we are capable of; sometimes, the barrier is just ourselves.”