By Naomi Yamamoto
Minister of State for Tourism and Small Business
March 7, 2014
VICTORIA – The first International Women’s Day celebrated over 100 years ago marked the ongoing struggle for a woman’s right to work, vote, hold public office and end gender discrimination. Today, in many parts of the world, women remain vulnerable without the rights, freedoms and privileges we often take for granted here in North America.
In Canada, the theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is “Strong Women Strong Canada: Women in Rural, Remote and Northern Communities Key to Canada’s Economic Prosperity”. Here in B.C. we want to inspire women to tap into their entrepreneurial spirit and make a difference in their communities. In 2012, women owned 37.4 per cent of all businesses in B.C., or approximately 139,000 businesses. This is well above the national average of 35.4 per cent and the second-highest rate among the provinces.
To further support women entrepreneurs and address barriers faced by women in business, on Feb. 4, 2014, government announced the creation of the Premier’s Women’s Economic Council. The council will offer advice to the Premier, the Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour, and the Minister of State for Tourism and Small Business on issues, strategies, policy changes and potential actions to tap into economic opportunities for women that will help strengthen B.C.’s economy.
Organizations like the Women’s Enterprise Centre (WEC), a leading business resource centre for women who are starting, purchasing or growing a small business in British Columbia, have been instrumental in helping women entrepreneurs launch successful businesses. The WEC mentorship program provides one-to-one mentoring, peer mentoring groups and mentor advisory forums designed to enhance entrepreneurial skills and increase each participating businesses’ long-term success and growth. Other organizations such as the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs is dedicated to providing visionary women with the education, empowerment, and energy they need to become wildly successful entrepreneurs.
I urge all British Columbians to recognize and honour the achievements of the women who touch our lives: our mothers, sisters, daughters, wives, friends, colleagues and business owners.
Connect with the Province of B.C. at: www.gov.bc.ca/connect