The Knowledge Gateway to help entrepreneurs, workers and experts network and share information

Date : 08 March 2013

New York

UN Women Deputy Executive Director John Hendra introduced the new Knowledge Gateway for Women’s Economic Empowerment, currently being developed by UN Women in partnership with the Government of Canada during a side event on 6 March at the 57th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW57).

The overall objective of the Knowledge Gateway is to facilitate improvements in women’s lives and their communities and help them build their businesses, farms and enterprises, successfully market their products and services, help improve their working conditions and get better paid. The portal will facilitate the sharing of knowledge about what works and what does not while enabling networking.

“The Gateway’s Knowledge Library will give members access to cutting edge research and up-to-date data and knowledge on policy and programming, lessons learned, and good practice,” said Mr. Hendra in his introductory remarks. “The Gateway will help to build bridges and connections across countries and stakeholders – including governments, civil society, women entrepreneurs, and women workers – breaking down silos by providing Knowledge Circles – multi-stakeholder communities of practice. … Members will be able to search the Knowledge Network to connect with others with specific interests or areas of expertise.”

The Permanent Representative of Canada to the UN, Ambassador Guillermo E. Rishchynski, underlined that the collaborative partnership on the Gateway emerged as a result of the joint CIDA-UN Women global Conference on Women’s Economic Empowerment in 2011.

Anna Falth, Manager of the Knowledge Gateway, presented the prototype (see PPT) and outlined it as a truly user-friendly and demand-driven one-stop portal for women’s economic empowerment. The prototype has been developed on the basis of consultations with various stakeholders, including through a global survey in 2012.

Consultations will continue over the next couple of months to ensure that it meets the needs of as many women, governments, civil society organizations, and private sector partners as possible.

Several experts shared their views about the portal at the event. Sakiko Fukuda-Parr, Professor at the New School, pointed out that literacy is a measure of knowledge, and the portal will enhance the knowledge of women, thus enabling them to make independent decisions, as well as access and control economic resources, assets and income.

Josephine Okot, Managing Director of Victoria Seeds Limited, based in Uganda, shared a brief video on the work of Victoria Seeds, a company she founded in 2004. She highlighted the impact of climate change as one of the greatest challenges faced by women farmers in Uganda. Knowledge about available crop insurance, information about fertilizers, financial services and market pricing could help contribute to the economic empowerment of women farmers and entrepreneurs, and would therefore be critical information to be included on the portal. Knowledge sharing is a powerful tool for addressing these challenges and social media tools need to be more effectively used.

Gisele Yitamben, President of the Association of Women Entrepreneurs in Cameroon, said it represents a new era when it comes to the empowerment of underprivileged women. She outlined specific needs of women entrepreneurs that could be met by the Gateway, such as learning and inspiring each other and sharing knowledge about business (e.g. sales, marketing, finance and operations), entrepreneurship (e.g. how to raise capital, possible business models), opportunities (e.g. when to enter the market) and connecting with other members for specific skills and expertise. The cell phone can be a dynamic tool for connecting women entrepreneurs with the Gateway.

Yana Van der Meulen Rodgers, President-Elect, International Association for Feminist Economics (IAFFE), proposed the inclusion of free Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) on the portal, along with information about training opportunities, available funding and grants, data for research, upcoming events, ideas for new research, most recent publications and tips for funding. As one of the editors of the Journal of Feminist Economics, she emphasized that IAFFE will be contributing briefs based on journal articles to the Knowledge Gateway to ensure wide dissemination of research.

Read our tweets from the event: