Young emerging female fashion designers represented one booming group of Ethiopian women entrepreneurs at the celebration of women entrepreneurs.Young emerging female fashion designers represented one booming group of Ethiopian women entrepreneurs at the celebration of women entrepreneurs.

Empowering Women Makes Economic Sense

Last updated: 20.11.2015 // The 2015 International Women Entrepreneurs Day was celebrated with a Fashion Show at the National Theatre 19 November. Ambassador Andreas Gaarder made a speech at the opening, emphasizing that increased Ethio-Norwegian private sector engagement is high on his agenda.

Ambassador Andreas Gaarder's speech at the opening of the 2015 International Women Entrepreneurs Day 19 November 2015:

  • It is an honour to be invited for the second time running to the WED in Ethiopia.
  • Women stand at the core of the society and – and I would allow myself to add - is in many ways its glue. I do believe  - as a personal reflection - that there would be less conflicts in this world had there been more women in positions of real power.
  • Empowering women and securing equality of opportunity and effective participation in the productive sphere of society is not only a human right - it also makes eminent economic sense.
  • A former prime minister of Norway - who happens to be one of the better economists of my country - once stated that women's contribution to the growth and wealth of the Norwegian economy was larger than the contribution by the whole petroleum sector. And I think many of you know how crucial the petroleum sector has been to making Norway one of the richest countries in the world.
  • Following that line of argument - I believe that for Ethiopia to reach its very ambitious goals as stated in the GTP II - yes it would imply facilitating private sector investments in a large scale, as well as fighting corruption, and increasing the availability of finance - but even more importantly active policies should be pursued to make sure that the female part of the population contribute even more actively to the wealth creating activities in society. Girls education is an important aspect of this endeavor. I know this is a high priority for the Ethiopian government, but I believe more has to be done to secure full implementation of these good intentions. This is one of the reasons the Norwegian government has decided to support the Ethiopian education strategy with a particular focus on access to education for girls.
  • This brings us here/today - to the celebration of the women’s entrepreneurship day in Ethiopia. To see so many powerful, successful and creative women gathered in one room. It gives hope for the future.
  • I attended this event last year – the “result” was also a high level women’s trade delegation headed by HE the first lady visiting Norway in October. A great success. Contacts were tied. Some contracts were signed, more are in the pipeline.
  • I would like to in this context pay tribute to the chairwoman of CAWEE, Nigist Haile, as well as the CEO of Partnership For Change, Anne Karin Nygaard, for their relentless energy in making this trade delegation visit a success.
  • Contributing to an increased trade exchange between Norway and Ethiopia, as well as facilitating Norwegian investments into Ethiopia stand high on my agenda for the coming year. I am expecting a high level Norwegian business delegation to visit Ethiopia in March. This will be an opportunity to take forward and develop some of the contacts created during the Women’s trade delegation visit to Norway.
  • I am also seeing a few other signs that point in a direction of more private sector engagement between our two countries:
    NORFUND the Norwegian investment agency – will be opening up for investments in Ethiopia as of the financial year 2016. The whole board of the agency will be visiting Etiopia in January for their annual board trip.
    Yara –the world’s largest producer of fertilizer – is considering a major investment in the extraction of potash in the Afar region. This investment is of such a magnitude that it will have positive consequences for the whole of Ethiopia, not only benefitting the Afar region. Potentially also many spinoffs for other sectors.
    Ethiopian airline and its CEO – Ato Tewolde -  have decided to open a direct line to Oslo – which certainly will benefit the ties generally, tourism and the trade exchange our two countries. Ethiopian airlines - incidentally - is flying its first ever all women operated flight today, showing greater dedication to equal opportunities and inspiring young female professionals all over Africa.
  • So, many positive signs on the horizon.
  • With these words – I wish all of the ladyies present all the best in their endeavours to become even more successful and productive contributors to the Ethiopian economy. Remember, You are all important role models of the young girls and women in Ethiopia. Thank you for your attention

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