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Policies ‘must tackle barriers to women in business’

Carolyn Currie

Barriers facing women in business have been exacerbated during the Covid crisis and must be addressed by changes to government policy, according to a group representing female company owners.

Studies have shown that women still struggle to raise finance and access support systems around their needs, particularly when also raising families.

Carolyn Currie, CEO of Women’s Enterprise Scotland (WES), said politicians needed to prioritise women’s enterprise in the next parliamentary session.

Launching the groups’ Manifesto for Change ahead of the Scottish Election in May, she said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed significant vulnerabilities in our economic and social systems and highlighted what were already existing inequalities in our society.

“Pre-existing barriers for women in business have been exacerbated and recovery planning absolutely must include policies which address the very specific needs of women in business.”

Businesses which are majority-owned by women currently contribute £8.8bn to the Scottish economy each year and account for more than 231,000 jobs, which is 13% of the private sector total in Scotland.

But WES states that “years of progress have now stalled”, with the number of women-led businesses in Scotland declining over two consecutive years from 20.6% in 2017 to 14% in 2019.

Ms Currie said; “Studies continue to highlight challenges faced by women in business and there is a broad evidence base which can inform policy development.

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