Having access to justice for the resolution of commercial disputes helps ensure that business transactions flow smoothly. How this justice is achieved is particularly important for SME owners, whose resources are limited. It is also especially important for women entrepreneurs.
Systems Must Take Women’s Situations into Account
Rather than facing costly court cases, all SMEs can benefit from cheaper, faster, and more transparent legal processes to recover assets and solve business problems. This is the goal of commercial mediation and other alternative dispute resolution (ADR) mechanisms.
As countries develop ADRs, however, it should not be assumed that new processes or regulations will affect women and men in the same way. To work well, ADR systems must take into account specific issues that women entrepreneurs may face.
Women's basic commercial rights can be unclear and uncertain, for example, because of conflicts between formal and customary law, or because of matrimonial code. Mediators must be aware of such issues. Women can also face unwritten discrimination and barriers when they seek to uphold their commercial and property rights. Furthermore, if all the mediators are men, then women may be intimidated or culturally barred from pressing their cases.
Using ADR to Promote Business Investment
IFC and the World Bank have worked successfully with many countries to implement ADR systems. We have specific experience to support policy makers and practitioners introduce or strengthen ADRs in ways that better serve both women and men entrepreneurs.