Economic Opportunities for Women in the East Asia and Pacific Region
of the risk-optimizing features of limited liability; they don’t have access to social safety nets for themselves and their employees; they have less access to the capital available to formally registered businesses (making it harder to expand their businesses and making them more likely to remain informal); and they cannot legally enforce contracts. • Governance: The role and effectiveness of public-private dialogue and women’s influence in policy formation and other governance issues, such as corruption, also affect the business environment in crucial ways. • Conditions for enterprise growth: Several factors affect growth beyond the microstage or small-scale stage. These include regulations affecting the ease of cross-border trade; access to specialized business and vocational training; availability of adequate child care (given the usually unequal pressure on women’s time to fulfill family responsibilities); and the presence and effectiveness of intermediary organizations. These factors affect women-owned businesses at all stages of their existence: when the decision to go into business is first made (for which access to assets is a prerequisite); at start-up; during day-to-day operations (for which regulations and governance are of prime importance); and, finally, while growing a business (in which training, technical support, and access to larger markets all play significant roles). The organizing framework of our analysis, which figure 1.7 illustrates, includes all of these themes. While laws, institutions, culture, and norms shape entrepreneurial processes and outcomes for women, they are, of course, only part of the story. Other determinants include broader trends in human capital accumulation and the intrahousehold allocation decisions that women make at several points in their lives. Moreover, secular changes in economic and social structures—for example, due to urbanization and fertility transitions—also play a role. While the determinants of women’s economic empowerment are complex and varied, the scope of this analysis is limited to the institutional environment for business entry and operations, including the influence of domestic legislation. This focus is relevant to this publication’s objective: to highlight entry points for policy change that can engender private sector development. In analyzing the barriers to female entrepreneurship, areas of progress in the region, and problems that require further action, this work draws on the following sources: • Quantitative data from the Doing Business 2010 report (World Bank 2009)
Published on May 10, 2010
The East Asia and Pacific region has made great progress, relative to other regions, with regard to both economic development and, specifica...