Opportunities for Women
In Europe and Central Asia, less than one out of every five businesses has a top female manager, and women’s representation in board rooms and executive and ownership positions is lower than in East Asia and Latin America. For every country like Belarus, where the share of firms with women in top management is among the world’s highest, there are two like Kosovo, which has almost no firms with women in top management. Further, women’s overall employment in the region is low, even though an IFC report found that higher levels of gender diversity can increase innovation and productivity, and boost the bottom line.
IFC committed to more than 15 gender-related projects in ECA in fiscal year 2014, to boost women’s employment and help promote the business case for gender diversity in the workplace. We organized half a dozen events and training programs across the Balkans to increase the ranks of women employees, entrepreneurs, executives, and board members. IFC made a €35 million loan to Garanti Bank Romania to finance small and medium enterprises, with €20 million for on-lending to companies owned or managed by women. Similar projects were implemented in Turkey, Russia, the Kyrgyz Republic, and Tajikistan.