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Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Only 5% of export companies are led by women

According to a study conducted by the Office of the International Economic Relations Undersecretary and ProChile, only 5% of companies are led by women, representing 1.4% of total Chilean sales abroad over the past year.   Women and Gender Equity Minister Isabel Plá and Undersecretary of International Economic Relations Rodrigo Yáñez led the APEC conference that brought together noteworthy leaders from the world of technology and digital trade.

Santiago, October 1, 2019. On Tuesday, the International Economic Relations Undersecretary’s office organized the conference “Women and Trade in the Digital Age” in the context of APEC Women’s Week. The event featured the participation of renowned national and international leaders who exchanged experiences as women in the world of business and technology.

The activity was attended by Women and Gender Equity Minister Isabel Plá, International Economic Relations Undersecretary Rodrigo Yáñez and ProChile General Director Jorge O’Ryan, as well as other noteworthy local and international presenters.

Minister Isabel Plá highlighted the importance of centering the dialogue on women’s economic empowerment. This goal aligns with the Women, SMEs and Inclusive Growth priority that Chile has established for its year as the APEC host economy.

“The work includes agreeing to the Santiago roadmap, which will contain very specific actions designed to integrate women into the economy by 2030,” Minister Plá remarked. 

International Economic Relations Undersecretary Rodrigo Yáñez explained that one of Chile’s objectives for the Leaders’ Meeting in November is to design a long-term work plan and lead initiatives that contribute to optimizing the export activities of companies run by women.

He presented statistics from a study on women in foreign trade in Chile, which show that only 5% of the 426 export companies have women at the helm. This represents just 1.4% of the total sales made abroad over the past year (US$1.037 billion). Over half of these business leaders believe that they do not have the same opportunities that men have to develop their business.

“These numbers reaffirm our belief that we can only create more opportunities and generate more inclusive development in our society by working with a sense of urgency to incorporate women into the export process. In that sense, the Undersecretary’s Office has been a global pioneer in regard to incorporating sections on gender into its free trade agreements, as is the case with the agreements reached with Canada, Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay,” the Undersecretary said.

They made it:

One of the presenters who shared her experience was Fernanda Contreras, the COO of Gamaga Games, a Chilean video game company that has successfully broken into the domestic and foreign markets.

Ms. Contreras said that the greatest challenge for women’s inclusion in digital trade “is their lack of confidence with regard to the unknown. Many women have the preconceived notion that if they have an enterprise, it must be something very small, and they are not able to expand it. In the end, women need to know how to research, manage the media, and receive support from other entrepreneurs. We are all fighting to create more jobs and to be the economic driver of our country.”

Mónica Retamal, a member of the Advisory Board of Ki Teknology and Nisum Chile and Executive Director of Fundación Kodea - which provides training and talent development for the digital era -, also shared recommendations so that more women can successfully bring their enterprises to fruition. “Think about collaboration. When we walk alone, we walk more quickly, but when we walk together, we go further. Participate in professional associations and mentoring programs, and get involved in any space that you can join,” she said.

Other national and international leaders from the public and private sectors also participated in the conference. They include chef and digital entrepreneur Constanza Achurra; Walmart Senior Director of Global Government Affairs Sarah Thorn; Libby Lyons, Director of the Australian Government's Workplace Gender Equality Agency; Fernanda Vicente, President of Women of the Pacific; and Arancha González, Executive Director of the International Trade Centre.

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