Economic empowerment is key to enabling women to improve their standing and influence in their families, communities, and societies, as well as the political arena and public policy advocacy. In many countries, female entrepreneurs and employees face regulatory barriers and other obstacles that limit their ability to succeed in business, grow professionally, and become leaders. For example, laws and restrictions that deter women-owned businesses essentially force them into the “informal” sector, where they must operate without proper licensing and have few legal protections or access to funding, resources, and technology.
This event will showcase inspiring women leaders who are helping to create change in some of the most challenging environments around the world, including Afghanistan and Papua New Guinea. The women are spearheading innovative programs that increase advocacy for women in all areas and encourage female entrepreneurs and business groups to join public policy debates, which can facilitate work with governments on concrete solutions to problems. Panel participants will identify new trends and spotlight programs that may serve as models for similar initiatives in emerging economies and developing countries. The featured guests will also examine the increasing role of women entrepreneurs and business groups in shaping the policy agenda in various nations, underscoring the critical nature of political leadership advocacy and the transformative effect of women’s economic empowerment.
- Manizha Wafeq, Founder of the Afghanistan Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry
- Eli Webb, CIPE Country Director for Papua New Guinea
- Caroline Hubbard, National Democratic Institute Senior Gender Advisor
- Jennifer Anderson, CIPE Senior Program Officer for South Asia, (discussion moderator)
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- Manizha Wafeq is the president of the Afghanistan Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry (AWCCI). Manizha began her career as an entrepreneur, establishing a clothing production company called “Wonderland Women-Saleeqa.” In the last fifteen years, she has become an influential woman’s economic rights advocate and activist. Manizha has served as the Gender Advisor to the Ministry of Commerce and Industries, Ministry of Economy and the Ministry of Women’s Affairs. She co-authored a Gender and the Legal Framework of Afghanistan training manual and training manual for Start-up Businesses. She has trained over 500 government staff on gender mainstreaming. She also serves as an executive board member for Afghan Women Network (AWN) and is one of the founders for PEACE THROUGH BUSINESS Network and Leading Entrepreneurs for Afghanistan Development (LEAD).
- Eli Webb is CIPE Country Director for Papua New Guinea, where she is directing CIPE’s work on the ground including the launch of PNG Women’s Business Center. Webb has decades of experience confronting gender-based and sexual violence in PNG. She also has a background in media, and her expertise in marketing is helping to attract attention to the vulnerable status of women and girls in PNG.
- Caroline Hubbard is an expert in women’s political participation and is the Senior Gender Advisor at the National Democratic Institute (NDI), where she works to support the aspirations of women around the world to be equal and active partners in shaping and leading democratic societies. Her experience includes supporting women in legislatures, political parties and civil society as leaders, activists and informed citizens. She is the technical lead on NDI’s #NotTheCost initiative to stop violence against women in politics. Prior to joining NDI, Caroline worked to promote women’s rights and democracy at Vital Voices Global Partnership. She holds a Master of Arts in public policy and women’s studies from The George Washington University and her B.A. in cultural anthropology and French language from the University of Texas at Austin.
- Jennifer Anderson (discussion moderator) is Senior Program Officer for South Asia at CIPE. In this role, she manages CIPE’s programs in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka and travels frequently to the region. Anderson was based in South Asia for ten years, working in Nepal, India, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan on a range of programs strengthening democratic governance. Before joining CIPE, she was most recently with USAID in Afghanistan, where she spent two years. First, as the civilian lead for rule of law with a Provincial Reconstruction Team and later as a Senior Development Adviser embedded with a U.S. Army Brigade. Anderson holds a Bachelor’s in Photography from Colombia College, Chicago, and a Masters of Science, with a major in Cultural Geography, from Portland State University, Oregon. She also speaks Nepali.