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“The Advancement of Women’s Economic Empowerment in BRICS and African Nations”:
The Story of BRICS Women’s Business Alliance
The Moscow Declaration of the 12th BRICS Summit marked a significant milestone in the acceptance of the Declaration on the formation of the BRICS Women’s Business Alliance (WBA). This Alliance offers a robust framework for advancing women’s economic empowerment across the BRICS nations, with the goal of enhancing the contribution of women as key drivers of economic growth.
In July 2020, the Russian BRICS Chairmanship launched the BRICS Women’s Business Alliance (BRICS WBA) to provide a platform for women entrepreneurs to increase their economic participation and empowerment by accessing business opportunities across the BRICS nations. The inaugural gathering of the BRICS Women’s Business Alliance, led by Chairperson Anna Nesterova on July 20, 2020, was held via videoconference. During the meeting, attendees explored ways to promote women’s entrepreneurship, identified opportunities for future collaboration within the Alliance, and renewed their commitment to jointly advancing initiatives in sectors such as digital development, distance learning, tourism, healthcare, food processing, creative economy, green business, and light industry.
During India’s Chairmanship on March 7, 2021, the Alliance, led by the Rotating Chairperson Sangita Reddy, prioritized the expansion of business opportunities for women entrepreneurs from BRICS nations. To this end, a BRICS Virtual Exposition for Women-led Businesses was organized. Additionally, the Alliance released a compendium on Positive Stories, acknowledging women-focused and women-led initiatives that have made significant contributions in the BRICS nations. The Alliance also published two knowledge papers, one on Inclusive Economy and the other on the proposed BRICS Centre for Arbitration and Dispute Resolution. In addition, the Alliance established BRICS Joint Working Groups in sectors such as Innovative Development, Healthcare, Food Security and Environmental Safety, Creative Industries, Tourism, and Inclusive Economy.
Under China’s Presidency of BRICS, the Alliance, led by Rotating Chairperson Zhao Haiying, held a virtual meeting on February 25, 2022, to underscore the importance of leveraging the collective strength of women in BRICS nations. The Alliance continued to prioritize key initiatives, including the BRICS Women Innovation Contest and the BRICS Women’s Leadership Forum. One of the Alliance’s notable accomplishments was the publication of the BRICS Women’s Development Report, which presents a thorough analysis of the present state and progress of women’s development in BRICS countries. The report extensively examines the status of women’s health, social security, education, economic opportunities, and participation in decision-making and management in each country, highlighting noteworthy practices. Additionally, the report tackles the challenges and barriers to women’s development and recommends solutions that can be broadly implemented to improve women’s healthcare, education, and security, boost women’s career advancement, and increase their economic and political participation.
During South Africa’s BRICS presidency, the alliance, under the leadership of Rotating Chairperson Lebogang Zulu, convened a virtual handover meeting on February 6, 2023. At this meeting, a new export-oriented economic growth strategy for BRICS and Africa was adopted, with a focus on women entrepreneurs and MSMEs. The BRICS WBA 2023 strategy and workplan are founded on the principle that trade enhances economic growth and productivity, enabling countries to build resilience and increase access to essential goods and services.