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Global Summit Of Women - 2002-07-04

About 600 women business, professional and governmental leaders will gather in Barcelona later this month (7/11-13) for the Global Summit of Women. The three-day meeting will address economic development.

Summit Director Irene Natividad says the summit will focus on solving the problems women face in starting or expanding businesses. She says although most of these are considered small businesses, they are vital to national economies.

She says, "In Europe, as well as in Canada and in the United States, at least a third if not over that of all small and medium enterprises are now owned by women. And they are growing fast. In the U-S it’s actually approaching 40-percent of small business. Now, lest anyone think that these businesses are at the margins, that is not the case at all. Small business is the backbone of every free market economy, including the United States."

Ms. Natividad says the majority of women attending the summit are entrepreneurs. She says a study shows the impact they have in the United States.

"The National Association of Business Owners actually came out with data that showed that women who own small businesses here in the United States generate three-point-one trillion (cq) worth of revenues," she says. "And they hire more employees than the Fortune 500 companies combined. Now to add to that that eighty percent of micro enterprises all over the world in developing economies are owned and led by women."

She says several governments are sending trade missions to Barcelona.

"This time around we have a trade mission from the U-S that’s led by the Assistant Secretary of Commerce Maria Cino (SEE-no). And she’s bringing women entrepreneurs to Barcelona. So is Iceland. They have a trade mission as well, the first ever that was formed just because of the summit. And from Canada as well."

She says despite the evidence of women’s success in the business world, old stereotypes remain and must be overcome.

Ms. Natividad says, "One of the women coming to the summit is a very, very successful Korean businesswoman whose family disowned her because she decided to go to business on her own. This from a country that just hosted the World Cup and showed how technologically advanced they are. How economically robust they are. There is still that stereotype."

The summit provides skills training, including lessons on conducting business over the Internet, negotiating, environmental concerns and education.

Delegates from more than 70 countries will attend the summit, one third of them from Africa. The Global Summit of Women runs from July 11th through the 13th.