Mr. President, your excellencies, I am honored to be here tonight to celebrate the role of women in Romania’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. I would especially like to thank Cristina Chiriac and CONAF for inviting me and congratulate all the women entrepreneurs gathered here tonight.Tomorrow is International Women’s Day, celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. International Women’s Day events around the globe will promote efforts to combat violence against women in all its forms, empower women and girls, and pursue gender equality in the world economy.
We still have a long way to go. A report from the United States Senate isolated three unique obstacles women entrepreneurs face. First, women lack role models and mentorship. Positive role models inspire and offer guidance to entrepreneurs and small business owners. Those who have professional mentors are five times more likely to start a business. The gender pay gap is second. Globally, women are paid 23 percent less and receive fewer raises and promotions than men. With less accumulated wealth and senior-level business experience, women encounter the third obstacle, unequal access to the funding and venture capital necessary to stabilize or expand their businesses. Women-founded startups receive two percent of available venture capital funds.
Combatting these issues requires a long-term, consistent commitment to gender equality throughout government, the private sector, and society as a whole. However, change starts with us as individuals and as leaders. In our work places, we can hire women; we can pay women fairly; we can mentor women colleagues; and promote women leaders. We can refuse to tolerate sexual harassment and any form of violence against women or girls. We can work to reduce gender biases in the workplace and push back against gender stereotypes.
Allow me to cite three things that the U.S. is doing in this regard. Last month, President Trump announced the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative, designed to advance global women’s economic empowerment. Through U.S. government activities, private-public partnerships, and a new, innovative development fund, this initiative seeks to reach 50 million women in the developing world by 2025. The program has three primary goals.
First, to increase women’s global labor force participation and advancement in the workplace by providing women with quality education, training, and support, so they can secure and thrive in well-paying jobs in their local economies. Second, to improve the access of women entrepreneurs and business owners to financing, market opportunities, and training to establish and grow their businesses. And third, to promote an enabling environment that increases women’s economic empowerment by reducing barriers and enhancing protections in policies, laws, regulations and practices, both public and private, to facilitate women’s participation in the economy.
Underscoring this commitment to entrepreneurship and innovation, the United States is co-sponsoring the 2019 Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES), the world’s premier gathering of entrepreneurs, investors, and innovative thinkers. The summit will take place this June at the World Forum in The Hague. It will showcase inspiring entrepreneurs, forge new collaborations and opportunities for investments, develop concrete business ideas, and accelerate solutions to global challenges. I am very proud that my Embassy has supported participation by several Romanians in past summits, including Cristina Chiriac, our host this evening. Interested entrepreneurs can still apply to join this year’s Global Entrepreneurship Summit through March 22.
Also in June, the U.S. Embassy here in Bucharest will host a stop on the “Women in Entrepreneurship: Access to Finance” European Roadshow, an event held in cooperation with our Mission to the European Union and the European Young Innovators Forum. We will work with partners to hold a day of workshops and expert forums, designed to help women entrepreneurs in Romania learn how to work with venture capitalists and other investors to get their ideas off the ground.
În concluzie, femeile precum dumneavoastră, din sala aceasta, sunt cele care conduc România către un viitor definit de prosperitate prin egalitate. Noi dorim să ajutăm şi vă rugăm să reţineţi că aveţi sprijinul nostru.