The Asia Foundation’s Carol Yost Speaks at W20 Summit

Carol w20

Carol Yost speaks at panel discussion on Women and Trade at W20. Photo courtesy of W20 Turkey.

Ankara, Turkey, September 8, 2015 — On September 6, The Asia Foundation’s Women’s Empowerment Senior Director Carol Yost spoke at the first ever Women 20 (W20) summit held in Ankara, Turkey. Formed under the Turkish term presidency of the G20, the W20 engagement group focuses on promoting gender inclusiveness and gender equality, essentially making a significant contribution towards a strong, sustainable and balanced growth trend globally.

The main theme of the summit was the empowerment of women with the engagement group focused on overcoming contemporary challenges regarding gender inclusivity within the global economy. The group agreed to work on employment for “100 million women” and financial support for women’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in an effort to increase women’s participation rate.

In a panel discussion on Women and Trade, Yost pointed out that it is estimated that women-owned enterprises receive only 1% of public sector tenders and urged the W20 to advocate for the G20 to set commitments to change this egregious imbalance. Yost suggested that G20 goals be set to achieve 25% tenders to women-owned enterprises by 2020 and 50% by 2030. To achieve those commitments will require a gender analysis of procurement processes to identify the barriers women-owned enterprises face combined with targeted interventions to address them and ensuring transparency at all stages of the process.

Yost also underlined the importance of the Foundation’s work in women’s economic empowerment, with a particular focus on women-owned SMEs, “We have learned that it is important to hear from women entrepreneurs themselves about the specific challenges that hinder their progress, many of which are not obvious until women have the opportunity to share their experience,” said Yost. “At The Asia Foundation, we focus primarily on SMEs because they are vital drivers of economic growth and employment in Asia, as elsewhere,” she continued.

Yost also spoke on research conducted by the Foundation for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) on “Access to Trade and Growth of Women’s SMEs in APEC Developing Countries,” and the difficulty accessing finance for women entrepreneurs. She also cited the Foundation’s launch of, an online market place that will facilitate business-to-business connections for women-owned SMEs in South Asia.

She went on to highlight the importance of the summit: “The W20 can play a critical role in urging the G20 to recognize that effective trade policies cannot be gender blind and that a gender analysis is essential to good trade policy that promotes the full participation of both women and men in productive work and accelerates trade.”

Other participants included individuals from: the China Association of Women Entrepreneurs; Korean Women’s Development Institute, Center for Women’s Labor & HRD Policy; Global Banking Alliance for Women; Women in Parliament (WIP); and UN Foundation among others.

The Asia Foundation is a nonprofit international development organization committed to improving lives across a dynamic and developing Asia. Informed by six decades of experience and deep local expertise, our programs address critical issues affecting Asia in the 21st century—governance and law, economic development, women’s empowerment, environment, and regional cooperation.

Read more about the Foundation’s work in Women’s Empowerment.

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Related programs: Economic Opportunity, Empower Women

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