Smart women Erasmus+ project
As per official figures published in 2017, women employment rates across the EU range from some 48% to almost 80%, but the EU average stands at 78% for men and 66% for women.
To reach the Europe 2020 target of a 75% employment rate for both women and men, particular attention needs to be given to the labour market participation of women.
The impact of parenthood on labour market participation is still very different for women and men, with only 65% of women with children under 12 work, as opposed to 90% of men. This may reflect the unequal sharing of family responsibilities, but also often signals a lack of work-life balance opportunities.
With the main aim of addressing this issue, The Malta Communications Authority leads an Erasmus+ project called Smart Women. In collaboration with six other European partners, a European Training Model was created, with the main objective of helping women with a business idea to develop it further and launch it online.
Through cross border sales, Europe offers a great deal of opportunities for businesses to grow in the single market. Nowadays the vast majority of consumers opt to search the web before making a purchase. This presents a great opportunity for entrepreneurs to increase consumer reach locally and cross border. This rate is expected to increase as more people gain the digital skills required to take their business online.
The Smart Women training programme, specialising in Entrepreneurship and eCommerce, provided aspiring female entrepreneurs with the necessary tools to transform a business idea into a successful enterprise, with the ultimate aim being that of improving the employment prospects or business opportunities of the participants.
The programme consisted of online training via an innovative eLearning Platform, together with 40 hours of face-to-face training, guiding participants through a series of modules, including Business Planning, Digital Marketing, Creating Digital Content, ICT and Online Security and eCommerce.
To celebrate the success of female participants who completed the programme, the Malta Communications Authority organised a Project Closure Event. Participants shared their experiences and dis- cussed how the knowledge they gained through this training programme helped them expand their business ideas.
Participating in a panel discussion during the event, Silvio Schembri, parliamentary secretary for Financial Services, Digital Economy and Innovation, highlighted the measures that are being taken by government to encourage women to be more involved or return to the labour market, such as the free child care initiative. However, he said that although this and other initiatives have attracted more female participation in the labour market, still a lot remain to be done in this aspect as women deserve to benefit from the same opportunities as men.
In a recorded message, Aaron Farrugia, parliamentary secretary for EU Funds and Social Dialogue, spoke about the advantages of the digital single market not just for digital buyers, but especially for the opportunities created for sellers, who may freely sell to millions of European citizens over the internet. He highlighted the advantages of this specialised training programme with an investment of €200,000 funded by the Erasmus+ programme that has provided participants with the tools and opportunities necessary to make their business a success in the digital era.
This project forms part of several initiatives that the European Commission is pushing forward to foster women’s participation in employment, as a means to boost the economy and bridge gender gaps within society.