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European Law Monitor newsCommissioner Danuta Hübner addresses Stockholm conference on women entrepreneurs as key players in European cohesion policy

Regional Policy Commissioner Danuta Hübner is in Stockholm today, addressing the Nordic Conference on Women's entrepreneurship, with Mrs. Maud Olofsson, Swedish Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Enterprise and Energy, and Mrs Tarja Cronberg, Finnish Minister for Employment. 180 participants (politicians, key actors in the implementation of regional policy and representatives of women's resource centres) will discuss key issues related to women's entrepreneurship and regional development in Europe.

"Encouraging women entrepreneurs can help to drive productivity, growth and economic development in the regions. The examples of projects put forward by Nordic countries are an inspiration for the rest of Europe. Indeed, women entrepreneurs in particular will benefit from the policy in Sweden, since all the programmes will focus on entrepreneurship and access to risk capital with a gender equality perspective. Overall, the target is that 40% of new enterprises shall be owned by women" the Commissioner commented ahead of the meeting.
The conference will focus on the women resources centres, their role in promoting entrepreneurship, how gender equality is a crucial element of success in the cohesion policy as well as the gender perspective in the innovation field.
The new cohesion policy programmes for 2007-2013 are being launched at this moment in the Nordic countries and the projects are about to be selected. It is noteworthy in this context that the new Cohesion Policy framework requires Member States to involve partners to promote equality between men and women in all stages of programming.

Womens' resource centres: an innovative way for women to have an impact on the regional scene

Today's conference aims at sharing experiences and best practices from the innovative work carried out by Womens' Resource Centres (WRCs) in the Nordic countries but also enlarging the perspective to the Baltic States and Poland. The Swedish WRC model has successfully been disseminated to other countries.
In 2006 a European association for resources centres "WINNET Europe" was set up which now has member organisations in 21 member states. The function of a resource centre is to empower women, to be a neutral meeting place for networking groups of women and to give them advice on implementing their projects or business ides. Indeed, as an example of the importance given to women entrepreneurship in the cohesion policy programmes, as part of their strategic analyses, the Operational Programmes in Sweden identified a need to increase the number of women entrepreneurs as well as a need to make better use of women's competence as business leaders. In addition, besides the horizontal objective of gender equality, the Swedish programmes have set specific targets such as "40% of the new enterprises shall be owned by women".

Promoting gender equality through Cohesion Policy: some examples

* Since 1997 in Finland, all four mainland programmes supported by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) have part-financed micro-loans targeting women entrepreneurs. Loans are available for start-up or established companies where women are majority owners and the manager is a woman: 10,000 enterprises received loans, which created more than 11,000 new jobs.
* The Hungarian "Association for Women in Computing Not for Profit Companies" received European financial support to organise training courses in five towns of the country covering IT, management and accounting for 120 women entrepreneurs, among them many beginners.

Have your say - Online consultation on the future of regional policy:
The Commission has launched a debate on the future of regional policy until the end of January 2008 and invites all citizens to take part via the following website: