Women's Enterprising & Exposure to Harassment and Violence

March was the month of celebrating everything woman. It was also a time of reflection of the continued danger women face by simply being women. This is a global phenomenon and a social shame. In this quick read, I share the findings of investigations into the harassment and violence women are exposed to in enterprising.

The statistics are shocking and seem unfitting for a 21st century world.

Although the phenomenon is more prevalent for informal women entrepreneurs, those in the formal sector are not much better off. For instance, in 2019, the State of Women in Entrepreneurship survey conducted by Fast Company in the USA revealed that of more than 600 female entrepreneur , nearly 56 percent had experienced some form of harassment in their capacity as formal business owners. Studies in Africa, Asia and the Middle East that have examined this phenomenon have found as follows:

  • A 2018 ILO report found that women entrepreneurs in the Middle East and North Africa are suceptible to both sexual harassment and physical violence particularly in public places and on public transport with effects of restricting their mobility and the entrepreneurship opportunities they consider.

There is consensus in the key findings of these studies that:

  • Women entrepreneurs experience more economic violence and coercion, including discrimination when obtaining enterprise related paperwork, delays in completing transactions, unwarranted impounding of their goods, and bribery and corruption, more than male entrepreneurs.

Tackling this disgrace should be a cummunity and global effort. I found inspiration in some of these efforts reported here from Uganda and Tanzania:
UGANDA: https://amp.theguardian.com/global-development/2019/aug/19/men-fear-us-kampalas-market-women-unite-against-harassment
TANZANIA: https://deeply.thenewhumanitarian.org/womensadvancement/articles/2018/09/24/tanzanian-women-traders-fight-gender-abuse-in-the-market-place

I remain optimistic that what we have witnessed in the objectification and treatment of women will only be a relic of the past in time to come. I am hopeful that my son will grow to know a world where women are valued as much as men and protected by all manner of informal and formal institutions.

Stay safe, keep well and be kind to others. Respect and Protect Women.

Dr Natasha Katuta Mwila is an academic in the management sciences. She is a senior lecturer at Leicester Castle Business School, De Montfort University