British Prime Minister Theresa May
British Prime Minister Theresa May

United Kingdom Prime Minister Theresa May today announced £7 million in support for the International Trade Centre’s SheTrades initiative. The UK funding, provided through its Department for International Development (DFID), will be dedicated to creating opportunities in trade for businesswomen across the Commonwealth.

‘Over the next two years, the UK will work with the International Trade Centre to deliver a new programme: SheTrades Commonwealth,’ Prime Minister May said during her opening speech at the Commonwealth Business Forum, one of four Forum events of the biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting taking place in London on 16-20 April. ‘SheTrades will offer Commonwealth-wide support to help countries break down gender barriers in international trade,’ she said.

Prime Minister May said that SheTrades Commonwealth will provide a forum for member states to work collectively, share best practices and compile the data needed to identify what works and track progress over time.

‘The programme will also deliver targeted interventions in a number of countries, providing training for women entrepreneurs, connecting them to market and investment opportunities, and helping firms overcome barriers to engaging with women-owned businesses,’ Prime Minister May said.

Welcoming the new UK support, ITC Executive Director Arancha González said: ‘We are very pleased to be stepping up our collaboration with DFID to empower women entrepreneurs across the Commonwealth.’

‘The UK support will enable us to strengthen the SheTrades Initiative and establish new programmes dedicated to creating opportunities for businesswomen in Commonwealth countries, leveraging trade as a vehicle for inclusiveness, growth, job creation, and poverty-reduction,’ she said.

The UK prime minister said that boosting women’s participation is the right thing to do, but business equality is not just about doing what is right – there are real economic benefits.

‘If Commonwealth members are not giving women an equal opportunity to succeed in business and in trade, they are trying to take on some of the biggest economies in the world with one hand tied behind their backs,’ Prime Minister May said.

‘That will not change overnight. But SheTrades represents an important step in the right direction – one that, like the other initiatives I have talked about today, will deliver benefits across the Commonwealth and beyond.’

Prime Minister May said: ‘When we all work to the same standards, when we break down barriers to trade and when we empower women to take their rightful place in the economy, the benefits are felt not just by countries and individuals involved. Freer, easier trade means stronger economies, more jobs, more choice and lower prices – and that is true here in the UK, across the Commonwealth and around the world.’

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