REPORT on reaching women’s economic independence through entrepreneurship and self-employment

7.4.2022 - (2021/2080(INI))

Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality
Rapporteur: Pernille Weiss

Procedure : 2021/2080(INI)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected :  
Texts tabled :
Texts adopted :










on reaching women’s economic independence through entrepreneurship and self-employment


The European Parliament,

 having regard to Articles 2 and 3(3) of the Treaty on European Union and Article 8 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

 having regard to Articles 21(1), 23 and 33(2) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union,

 having regard to the Commission communication of 5 March 2020 entitled ‘A Union of Equality: Gender Equality Strategy 2020-2025’ (COM(2020)0152),

 having regard to the Commission communication of 10 March 2020 entitled ‘An SME Strategy for a sustainable and digital Europe’ (COM(2020)0103),

 having regard to the Commission communication of 1 July 2020 entitled ‘European Skills Agenda for sustainable competitiveness, social fairness and resilience’ (COM(2020)0274),

 having regard to the Commission communication of 3 March 2021 entitled ‘Union of Equality: Strategy for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2021-2030’ (COM(2021)0101),

 having regard to the study by the Commission’s Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology of 2020 entitled ‘Women in the Digital Age’,

 having regard to its resolution of 19 January 2016 on external factors that represent hurdles to European female entrepreneurship[1],

 having regard to its resolution of 28 April 2016 on gender equality and empowering women in the digital age[2],

 having regard to its resolution of 3 October 2017 on women’s economic empowerment in the private and public sectors in the EU[3],

 having regard to its resolution of 17 April 2018 on empowering women and girls through the digital sector[4],

 having regard to its resolution of 21 January 2021 entitled ‘Closing the digital gender gap – women’s participation in the digital economy‘[5],

 having regard to its resolution of 21 January 2021 on the gender perspective in the COVID-19 crisis and post-crisis period[6],

 having regard to its resolution of 21 January 2021 on the EU Strategy for Gender Equality[7],

 having regard to its resolution of 10 June 2021 on promoting gender equality in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and careers[8],

 having regard to the study entitled ‘The Professional Status of Rural Women in the EU’ published by the Policy Department for Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs in its Directorate-General for Internal Policies in May 2019,

 having regard to the study entitled ‘Enhancing Women’s Economic Empowerment through Entrepreneurship and Business Leadership in OECD Countries’ published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs in 2014,

 having regard to the study entitled ‘International Survey of Adult Financial Literacy’ published by the OECD in 2020,

 having regard to Chapter 2 of the study entitled ‘The Missing Entrepreneurs 2019: Policies for Inclusive Entrepreneurship’ published by the OECD in December 2019,

 having regard to the European Institute for Gender Equality’s (EIGE) Gender Equality Index,

 having regard to Article 6 of the United Nations Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities,

 having regard to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),

 having regard to the Women in Digital scoreboard,

 having regard to the study entitled ‘Women’s entrepreneurship and self-employment, including aspects of gendered Corporate Social Responsibility’ published by the Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs in its Directorate-General for Internal Policies in May 2020,

 having regard to the study entitled ‘Funding women entrepreneurs – How to empower growth’ published by the European Investment Bank’s Innovation Finance Advisory in June 2020,

 having regard to Rule 54 of its Rules of Procedure,

 having regard to the report of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (A9-0096/2022),

A whereas gender equality is a fundamental value and key objective of the EU and a basic precondition for the full enjoyment of human rights by women and girls, and is essential for their empowerment, the development of their full potential and the achievement of a sustainable and inclusive society; whereas gender-based discrimination based on stereotypes and inequalities, combined with intersectional discrimination due, among others, to their sex, race, ethnic or social origin or disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression has negative social and economic consequences and impacts the way women experience challenges, including in pursuing entrepreneurship and becoming self-employed;

B whereas female entrepreneurship boosts women’s emancipation and empowerment; whereas in the 2014-2018 period the median annual income for full-time entrepreneurs was equal for men and women[9]; whereas women’s economic independence and empowerment is central to realising women’s rights and gender equality and includes the ability to participate equally in labour markets, access to and control over productive resources, control over their own time, lives and bodies, self-fulfilment and meaningful participation in economic decision-making at all levels; whereas the promotion of economic independence requires boosting women’s entrepreneurship and self-employment and be accompanied by appropriate measures to ensure women’s equal participation in labour markets, equal pay for equal work or work of equal value, access to decent work andsharing and recognition of domestic and care responsibilities;

C. whereas women are the most valuable and largest untapped source of entrepreneurial and leadership potential in Europe; whereas from 2014-2018 women across the OECD were twice as likely to start their own businesses as those in the EU[10]; whereas women entrepreneurs and self-employed women are an under-utilised source of sustainable economic growth, job creation and innovation potential, whereas the promotion of this source of growth is an important tool for fostering women’s economic empowerment and independence; whereas women’s economic empowerment boosts productivity and increases economic diversification and income equality; whereas self-employment needs to be recognised as a form of work which helps to create jobs and reduce unemployment; whereas studies show that women often have a different management and leadership style than men and that gender diversity in teams is beneficial for society and the economy[11]; whereas supporting women entrepreneurs and women self-employed would also strengthen EU competitiveness and, therefore, all entrepreneurial activity that creates jobs and incomes, and thus added value for business and society should be promoted by the EU and its Member States;

D. whereas women in rural and disadvantaged regions are more likely to engage in entrepreneurship and self-employment than those in urban and economically prosperous regions[12]; whereas the employment opportunities for women in rural areas in the EU are worse than those for men in rural areas and women in urban areas; whereas the share of self-employed women in rural areas is slightly higher than that in  total areas; whereas 30 % of farms in the EU are run by women, as self-employed[13];

E. whereas the relative scarcity of women entrepreneurs should be considered an untapped source for innovation and development, especially in the context of Europe’s green and digital transformations and its economic recovery following the COVID-19 crisis: whereas the COVID-19 crisis has disproportionately affected women, particularly those working in precarious employment, feminised sectors and the informal economy, having significant economic and employment impacts on them because of an increase in care and domestic responsibilities, restricted access to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) as well as in gender-based violence and harassment; whereas the European economy has the potential to benefit from GDP growth of EUR 16 billion by encouraging more women to enter the digital jobs market; whereas improving gender equality and empowering female entrepreneurship are key to accelerating and fortifying European recovery;

F. whereas the European Union is lagging behind the US and China on the development of technologies in, for example, artificial intelligence and blockchain technologies; whereas in April 2021 the highest-valued start-ups in the world were  mainly Chinese and US companies; whereas the European Union should recognise and support European women’s innovation capabilities for developing technologies;

G. whereas women only account for 34.4 % of the self-employed in the EU and 30 % of its start-up entrepreneurs, confirming that the largest gender gaps in entrepreneurial activity are found in Europe and North America[14]; whereas only 34 % of managerial positions in the EU are held by women[15]; whereas previous experience in management positions provides individuals with the necessary skills and confidence to own businesses themselves[16]; whereas the lack of social protection such as paid sick, maternity, paternity and parental leave can be problematic for self-employed women in several Member States; whereas self-employed women are more likely to fall into poverty;

H. whereas starting and running a business is complex in the EU because of the different bureaucratic and administrative requirements and procedures, which is an obstacle to encouraging more women to become entrepreneurs; whereas women face different barriers, particularly of an economic, legislative and social nature, to pursuing entrepreneurship than men; whereas these barriers are constructed around gender stereotypes which contribute to gender segregation in education, a lack of specific training, a lower level of entrepreneurial confidence, less access to information, financial and government support and less tools for social and business networks, gender biases and difficulties in reconciling work and family life, due to the lack of care infrastructures, specially childcare and because of the stereotype that women carry out most care and domestic work; whereas women are more likely than men to report flexible working hours as their motivation to engage in entrepreneurship and self-employment[17]; whereas female entrepreneurship and self-employment can also be a valuable instrument for reconciling work and personal life; whereas from 2014 to 2018 only 34.5 % of women in the EU and 37.7 % of women in the OECD felt they had the necessary skills and knowledge to start their own business; whereas women are nearly 10 % more likely to report a fear of failure than men[18]; whereas there is a financial literacy gap between men and women; whereas this gap acts as a barrier for women when accessing funding, and overall impedes them from participating confidently in economic and financial activities[19];

I. whereas harmful structures and stereotypes perpetuate inequality; whereas traditional gender roles and stereotypes still influence the division of labour at home, in education, at the workplace and in society; whereas unpaid care and domestic work is mostly carried out by women, impacting employment and career progression and contributing to the gender pay and pension gap; whereas work-life balance measures, such as the Work-Life Balance Directive, need to be urgently and properly transposed by the Member States and complemented by further measures in order to involve more men in unpaid work, J.  whereas access to networks, mentoring and promoting women entrepreneurs as role models are important in encouraging women to consider entrepreneurship as a career and in increasing women’s economic empowerment; whereas the diversity of role models can appeal to women from diverse backgrounds;

K. whereas some private companies have included actions such as mentoring, networking and support to increase women's access to finance and technology to support women's entrepreneurship as part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategies;

L. whereas statistics show that women entrepreneurs face more difficulties than men in raising finance and capital; whereas women-led companies still account for a very small proportion of investment recipients; whereas all-men founding teams received 93 % of all capital invested in European technology companies in 2018[20]; whereas only 32 % of venture capital funding was allocated to companies with at least one female executive[21]; whereas women’s innovations are less often identified and acknowledged as innovations and promising ideas; whereas despite receiving lower financial backing women-led businesses in the Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) Region outperform male-founded companies in capital productivity by 96 %[22];

M. whereas data shows that women entrepreneurs generate more revenue despite receiving lower financial backing;

N. whereas only 10 % of business angels in Europe are women[23], and women are especially under-represented among private equity investors in digitalisation; whereas only 10 % of all senior positions in private equity and venture capital firms globally[24] are occupied by women; whereas several studies show that investment managers tend to provide capital and to hire those who are similar to themselves, leaving women and especially those from diverse backgrounds and facing intersectional discrimination, among other reasons due to their racial, ethnic or socio economic backgrounds, at a clear disadvantage; whereas venture capital firms with women partners are two to three times more likely to invest in female-led businesses[25]; whereas the lack of women in decision-making roles at venture capital firms is one of the primary sources of the persistent funding gap for women-driven enterprises in the EU[26]; whereas another major cause for the persistent funding gap for women-driven enterprises in the EU is that women are less likely than men to seek external funding such as bank loans, venture capital or funding from state programmes, and instead resort to self-funding through personal savings or funding from family members[27]; whereas implementing measures to achieve a fair representation of women and develop a gender-balanced financial ecosystem, creating a more favourable environment at the EU level and providing sufficient budgetary resources is fundamental to creating both the necessary funding conditions and the essential network of women investors for women-led companies to thrive;

O. whereas six Member States have created 11 private funds to fill the gap in funding for women entrepreneurs, and these funds use gender considerations that support diversity in their investment criteria; whereas some of these funds have received national or EU support, which shows the important role of public policies in promoting entrepreneurship[28];

P. whereas there are challenges in effectively measuring entrepreneurship in the EU;

Q. whereas less than 8 % of top companies’ CEOs are women;

R. whereas 59 % of scientists and engineers in the EU in 2018 were men and only 41 % were women, representing a gap of 18 %[29] ; whereas social norms, stereotypes, cultural discouragement and gendered expectations about career choices, which are often reinforced through educational content and curricula, are two of the main drivers of gender segregation in higher education and in the labour market;

S. whereas it is crucial for Europe to have an equal number of women and men as entrepreneurs to ensure diversification of content and products; whereas between 2014 and 2018 female-led start-ups were as likely to offer new products and services as those led by men in the EU[30], showing that women and men must been seen as performing equally well in innovation; whereas encouraging more women to become entrepreneurs can improve the quality and diversity of innovations, products and services;

T. whereas the European Network of Female Entrepreneurship Ambassadors has so far organised more than 650 national meetings and reached over 61 000 would-be women entrepreneurs; whereas its ambassadors have supported the creation of more than 250 new women-led enterprises as well as several more networking and business support clubs for women[31];

U. whereas in 2020, there were more people who knew someone who had stopped a business than knew someone who had started one[32], which recalls the importance of nurturing fertile ground for every kind of entrepreneurship, and of staying connected to other economies, to remain alert to new opportunities, and to safeguard the jobs of the future;

V. Whereas the gender pay gap in the EU stands at 14.1 % and has only changed minimally over the last decade; whereas 24 % of the gender pay gap is related to the overrepresentation of women in relatively low-paying sectors, such as care, health and education;

W. whereas entrepreneurship requires knowledge and skills; whereas increasing women’s and girls’ educational attainment contributes to their economic empowerment and more inclusive economic growth; whereas lifelong education, upskilling and reskilling, especially to keep pace with rapid technological and digital transformations increases their professional opportunities and is important for women and girls’ health, well-being and quality of life;

X. whereas entrepreneurship should be accessible for all women including women with disabilities, older women and those with a minoritised racial or ethnic background; whereas women with disabilities can find it more difficult to start their own businesses; whereas entrepreneurship among older women is not being promoted although they should be seen as a valuable and unused potential for economic growth; whereas the promotion of entrepreneurship among migrant women can offer great opportunities for their integration in the labour market and foster their economic independence and empowerment;

Entrepreneurship programmes, education and competence building

1. Underlines that women’s entrepreneurship contributes to increasing women’s economic independence and their empowerment, which is an essential precondition for reaching gender-equal societies and should be encouraged and promoted across the EU; notes that women’s economic independence reinforces their equal participation in the labour market, offers control over productive resources and enhanced participation in economic decision-making at all levels, as well as economic empowerment and self-determination, which is crucial to realising women’s rights and gender equality; highlights that every woman who wants to pursue entrepreneurial activity should be encouraged to take this step, since the running of a business creates jobs and incomes and thus added value for business and the whole of society; calls on the Commission to step up its efforts to increase the employment rate of women in Europe and facilitate their access to the labour market, including by providing more incentives to promote women’s entrepreneurship; welcomes the Commission’s proposal for a pay transparency directive, but highlights that its scope should be extended to include all workers;

2. Regrets the fact that women do not start and run businesses as much as men; urges the Member States to introduce business-friendly reforms to promote equality and increase female entrepreneurship; calls for women’s needs and participation in the labour market, as well as horizontal and vertical labour market segregation, to be closely examined at EU level;

3. Welcomes Commission initiatives such as Women TechEU and the European Innovation Council Women Leadership Programme and the creation of various European networks for women entrepreneurs; urges the Commission and the Member States to promote such initiatives more actively by focusing on the EU’s sustainable growth potential and to support the achievements of women entrepreneurs in all their diversity; encourages the Commission to strengthen networks focusing on women’s entrepreneurship on European level to boost innovation and cooperation between national, EU and international networks; notes that further cross-border cooperation between women entrepreneurs can strengthen the internal market of the European Union;

4. Calls on the Commission and the Member States to include public-private partnerships in their initiatives because private companies can play a valuable role as advisers and impart relevant and specialised skills to women entrepreneurs; urges the Commission to facilitate pan-European networking of women entrepreneurs and to support their cooperation; calls on the Commission to establish programmes that foster creativity in innovation, to ensure entrepreneurship in the labour market, and to ensure that women can bring added value to society;

5. Highlights that mentoring-relationships between experienced and novice entrepreneurs can be beneficial to both sides and help raise awareness about entrepreneurship, combat doubts about venturing into the entrepreneurial sector and foster exchange of information and advice among female entrepreneurs;

6. Highlights the necessity and importance of recognising and promoting women entrepreneurs and investors as role models and mentors, and to ensure that these role models represent women in all their diversity; notes, in this regard, the EU Prize for Women Innovators 2021 and the European Network of Female Entrepreneurship Ambassadors, which encourages women to consider entrepreneurship as a career; calls on the Commission to highlight prominent women entrepreneurs and investors as role models by launching a Europe-wide campaign raising awareness about the potential of entrepreneurship targeting predominantly women and to conduct case studies of women entrepreneurs;

7. Calls on the Commission to develop a strategy with Member States to ensure the meaningful representation of all women from diverse backgrounds in decision-making roles and with specific actions and policies to promote their economic empowerment; calls for it to be ensured that all measures for women’s entrepreneurship include an intersectional perspective to ensure that all women receive the relevant help and support and that no woman is left behind;

8. Welcomes public and private women’s entrepreneurship programmes in the Member States that include aspects of networking, mentoring, training, coaching and consultancy services and professional advice on legal and fiscal matters to support and advise women entrepreneurs, and promote their economic independence; notes that publicly available reports and testimonials in seven Member States suggest the positive impact of these programmes; urges the Commission and the EIGE to collect gender-disaggregated data from all Member States and analyse the impact of women’s entrepreneurship programmes; calls on the Commission and Member States to share best practices to strengthen and increase the share of women entrepreneurs and self-employed within the EU; calls on the Member States to promote a well-developed training strategy to provide different levels of training, from awareness-raising and information to specialised and advanced training, and to recognise the various opportunities and constraints of specific business environments and the wide range of characteristics and needs of women entrepreneurs, with specific attention to work-life balance; highlights the need for one stop shops that offer for instance. courses and training within a wide range of disciplines, such as accounting and marketing, to entrepreneurs with little or no experience or qualifications; notes that this initiative can encourage more women to become entrepreneurs;

9. Calls on the Commission and the EIGE to make up-to-date and comparable statistics available for the purpose of analysing the economic significance of entrepreneurs and the self-employed, and the various categories within entrepreneurship and self-employed with respect to industry, and gender to identify the share of women entrepreneurs and self-employed; reiterates its calls on the Commission and the Member States to improve the collection of gender-disaggregated data, statistics, research and analysis, in particular on women’s participation in the labour market and in areas such as informal employment, entrepreneurship, access to financing and to healthcare services, unpaid work, poverty and the impact of social protection systems; recalls the role of EIGE in this regard, and calls on the Commission to use these data to effectively implement gender impact assessments of its policies and programmes, and those of other EU agencies and institutions;

10. Calls, in particular, for greater women-focused promotion of and awareness-raising about STEM subjects, digital education and financial literacy in order to combat prevailing stereotypes in education, training, school curricula and career guidance; calls for it to be ensured that more women enter these sectors, which would allow for more diverse management and leadership styles that would bring an added value to these sectors and contribute to their development; stresses the importance of broadening the horizon of women’s entrepreneurship to include more sectors than STEM and IT and to promote different forms of entrepreneurship; calls on the Commission and Member States to implement measures to improve the diversification of entrepreneurship and to promote social and collective forms of women’s entrepreneurship; welcomes specific training, research and studies in entrepreneurship; highlights the importance of promoting education and careers in finance to women to support the development of a reliable network of women investors and emphasises at the same time the need to empower women to be economically independent and thrive as entrepreneurs;

11. Regrets the fact that women are under-represented in leadership positions, and highlights the need to promote equality between men and women at all levels of decision-making in business and management; calls for a swift negotiation process of the Women on Boards Directive; highlights the necessity to provide more and better information about entrepreneurship as an attractive career option, both for young women in school and for women outside the labour force who are considering starting or getting back into work; calls on the Commission to promote entrepreneurship support programmes for older people, and notes that this can reach women who are left out of the labour market; emphasises the necessity to promote policies for stimulating high-growth firms as well as growth and development in medium-sized and larger businesses to ensure more women become entrepreneurs and support sustainable growth; calls on Member States and the Commission to further increase awareness of support policies among women entrepreneurs and to decrease bureaucratic and administrative barriers to accessing programmes aimed at fostering entrepreneurship; welcomes the efforts to promote support from experts and consultants who as mentors can build up women entrepreneurs’ confidence and guide them through all stages of the entrepreneurship process, taking account of all the aspects involved, including issues relating to legislation, tax, administration, economics, and accounting, as well as legal, formal, labour and recruitment issues;

12. Calls for the need to recognise the entrepreneurial potential of women in all sectors and education fields, including those that are female-dominated, such as for example in healthcare and teaching; highlights the need to provide further training and retraining opportunities to employees and those moving from employment to self-employment; calls on the Commission to promote lifelong learning for all; highlights that the entrepreneurial dimension must also be recognised in all youth programmes at the European level; encourages Member States and regional and local authorities to invest in reskilling and upskilling programmes targeted at self-employed women and female entrepreneurs with a specific focus on financial literacy reskilling;

Access to capital

13. Emphasises the need to recognise women entrepreneurship and self-employment as profitable investment cases and as sources of economic growth and job creation;

14. Calls on Member States and the Commission to boost awareness and facilitate easier access to finance for women entrepreneurs and self-employed including alternative forms of financing, making sure finance is available and reaches them; notes that women entrepreneurs are more likely to use alternative sources such as crowd lending and funding platforms; notes that in certain cases microcredits have proven to be successful in motivating more women to start their own business; acknowledged the impact of funding policies and the positive impact they can bring to women; encourages Member States and regional and local authorities to make use of the current European Structural Funds to target and promote women entrepreneurs and self-employed women; urges the Commission to establish a European network of gender-conscious investors; considers that such a network will be able to provide women-led companies with relevant connections, networks and funding opportunities; stresses the need for awareness-raising and information campaigns on current and future EU funding possibilities for women entrepreneurs in order to provide tailored support to women business owners and women entrepreneurs and increase the visibility of women leaders so they can provide stronger role models and break current stereotypes; urges the Commission to establish a women’s entrepreneurship action plan as part of small business act and, as a part of it, a pan-European entrepreneurship, innovation and investment event bringing together scientists, entrepreneurs, start-ups and above all, private equity investors, in order to boost new female business opportunities;

15. Welcomes the efforts by the dedicated private investment funds that incorporate gender criteria in their investment assessments to address the underfunding of women-led enterprises; calls on the Commission to support co-investment programmes with venture capital funds and business angels that have an investment focus on women and mentorship programmes for women entrepreneurs; considers that this would be a powerful action to nurture the ecosystem from the ground up;

16. Welcomes public and private funds that implement gender equality, diversity and inclusion policies; notes, in this regard, the Diversity Commitment initiative, which is the first initiative in the world where private funds have committed to measuring and tracking gender representation and to reporting annually and in public on their findings;

17. Highlights the important role of microcredits in improving women’s financial inclusion by overcoming market and social barriers in the financial markets; notes that the advantage of microfinance is that it offers women entrepreneurs the possibility for strong incentives to create a sustainable business since they must repay the loan, and this instrument is designed specifically for the needs of people who experience difficulties in obtaining access to conventional credit;

18. Calls on the Commission and Member States to systematically track and monitor gender-disaggregated data across the whole Union to ensure high-quality data on EU and national funding programmes; recalls, further, the importance of collecting equality data in order to obtain information on intersecting experiences of discrimination, and highlights that this could serve as a basis for more informed policy decisions in the future and for enhancing of women’s economic independence; notes that a women’s entrepreneurial dimension has to be recognised in the formulation of business- and SME-related policies to ensure an adequate policy framework that supports more female entrepreneurship and innovation by diversity;

Better framework for women entrepreneurs

19. Calls on Member States to implement the 2019 Council recommendation on ensuring effective access to social protection systems and entitlements, including pension and leaves for all self-employed workers and to implement all the principles set out in the European Pillar of Social Right as a way to ensure non-discrimination and foster gender equality;

20. Calls on Member States and the Commission to introduce gender mainstreaming at all stages of the design process of support measures for women entrepreneurs and to consult with a diverse group of potential and current women entrepreneurs in order to ensure these support measures are aligned and match their expectations and needs;

21. Emphasises the need to remove administrative barriers to starting a business in order to make becoming an entrepreneur or self-employed more attractive to women, including also immigrant women; calls on Member States to consider developing standardised administrative packages for entrepreneurs to follow in the early stages of starting a business; believes that this will ease the administrative burden in interactions with local authorities such as tax authorities, municipalities, etc.;

22. Highlights the need to develop Europe’s innovation ecosystem to empower more women to create sustainable and profitable businesses and innovation to strengthen EU competitiveness, economic growth and job creation;

23. Calls on the Commission to implement the measures laid out in its Better Regulation communication as well as in its SME strategy without delay.

24. Emphasises the need for guidance and simplified forms, procedures and processes to help self-employed women entrepreneurs navigate the regulatory landscape, for example in order to export; notes that microbusinesses and SMEs in particular already struggle with a lack of resources for navigating and managing compliance obligations across Member States; encourages the Commission and Member States to evaluate and where necessary improve guidance and administration;

25. Welcomes the Commission’s better regulation agenda; believes that the Commission’s willingness to implement the ‘one in, one out’ approach is an important step towards minimising administrative burdens on businesses, including start-ups and SMEs, making it more attractive for women to become entrepreneurs or self-employed;

26. Calls on Member States to consider enhanced tax incentives or flexible tax structures to improve framework conditions for entrepreneurship and self-employment; points as an example to the taxation of entrepreneurs in their early stages, when taxing only revenue or delaying tax payments in order to secure capital can make it more attractive for women to become entrepreneurs or self-employed;

27. Highlights the importance of work-life balance and good quality, affordable social services as prerequisites for women entrepreneurs and self-employed; recognises that female entrepreneurship and self-employment provide the flexibility to achieve a better work-life balance; recognises the importance of making equal sharing of domestic and care responsibilities possible in order to achieve the work-life balance necessary for women to engage in entrepreneurship and self-employment; calls on the Commission and Member States to ensure a better work-life balance through better maternity, paternity, parental and carer’s leave, flexible working hours and on-site childcare facilities, and by promoting telework; highlights that working hours and working patterns in rural areas differ considerably from those in urban areas and that it is important to offer childcare adapted to the specific needs of women in different areas; calls on Member States and regional and local authorities to support social frameworks, such as for the elderly, dependents and to provide more flexible childcare provisions and opportunities for parental leave, as they are essential to encouraging and enabling more women to become entrepreneurs; calls on Member States to implement the Barcelona targets, ensuring the coverage of these needs through investment in accessible and affordable high-quality care services and to modernise them so that women do not have to choose between family and participation in the labour market; emphasises that further enabling and improving women’s possibilities to become entrepreneurs can play a vital role in closing the gender pay gap in Member States; welcomes actions already taken by some Member States on this matter, and urges them to ensure access to quality childcare and long-term care services, to promote access for the self-employed and to swiftly and fully transpose and implement the Work-Life Balance Directive, and calls on the Commission to monitor it effectively; recognises national differences in social policy and respect for subsidiarity; highlights it is in the interest of Member States to promote family-friendly working models;

28. Is concerned that the Court of Auditors, in its Special report No10/21 on gender mainstreaming in the EU budget, found that the Commission had not adequately implemented gender mainstreaming and had made insufficient use of sex-disaggregated data and indicators; calls on the Commission to implement gender-responsive budgeting to ensure women and men benefit equally from public spending, including in NextGenerationEU and all the economic recovery measures;


° °

29. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission.



The Commission communication ‘A Union of Equality: Gender Equality Strategy 2020-2025’ says “Women and men in all their diversity should have equal opportunities to thrive and be economically independent, be paid equally for their work of equal value, have equal access to finance and receive fair pensions.”.

Ensuring these equal opportunities for women and men could pave a way for the employment of the full potential and talent of all EU citizens, which in return could substantially contribute to European economic recovery, creation of jobs, growth and strengthen EU’s competitiveness.

Entrepreneurship and self-employment play an important role in creating jobs, innovation and growth to strengthen EU’s competitiveness. Unfortunately, women remain substantially under-represented as entrepreneurs. They constitute 52 % of the total European population, but only 34.4 % of the EU self-employed and 30 % of start-up entrepreneurs. Women’s entrepreneurship takes various forms through a wide range of industries, and is a significant factor for today’s economies, especially through SMEs in the European Union.

In addition, female entrepreneurs have more difficulties than men in raising finance. Women-led companies still account for a very small portion of investments. All-male founding teams receive the majority of all capital investment in Europe. Then again, the overwhelming majority of investors are men who tend to invest in ventures run by all-male founding teams.

Furthermore, many factors, including stereotyping and family responsibilities might make entrepreneurship a less attractive option for women than for men. There is no doubt, however, that entrepreneurship offers an opportunity to strengthen women’s role as business leaders and to bring cultural and societal change. Female entrepreneurial potential is an under-valued source of economic growth and jobs that should be further developed. Women are missing from emerging and high paying sectors and are underrepresented in decision-making.

There is an obvious gap and a need for stronger empowerment of women entrepreneurs and investors. Women’s economic empowerment makes economic, business and ethical sense. Therefore, this needs to be addressed as it is crucial in order to create new jobs, boost the economy and European recovery as well as strengthen EU’s competitiveness.


Date adopted





Result of final vote







Members present for the final vote

Isabella Adinolfi, Christine Anderson, Simona Baldassarre, Robert Biedroń, Vilija Blinkevičiūtė, Annika Bruna, Margarita de la Pisa Carrión, Rosa Estaràs Ferragut, Frances Fitzgerald, Cindy Franssen, Heléne Fritzon, Lina Gálvez Muñoz, Arba Kokalari, Alice Kuhnke, Elżbieta Katarzyna Łukacijewska, Radka Maxová, Karen Melchior, Andżelika Anna Możdżanowska, Maria Noichl, Sandra Pereira, Pina Picierno, Sirpa Pietikäinen, Samira Rafaela, Evelyn Regner, Terry Reintke, Diana Riba i Giner, Eugenia Rodríguez Palop, María Soraya Rodríguez Ramos, Christine Schneider, Sylwia Spurek, Jessica Stegrud, Isabella Tovaglieri, Hilde Vautmans, Elissavet Vozemberg-Vrionidi, Chrysoula Zacharopoulou, Marco Zullo





ID Group

Annika Bruna

PPE Group

Isabella Adinolfi, Rosa Estaràs Ferragut, Frances Fitzgerald, Cindy Franssen, Arba Kokalari, Elżbieta Katarzyna Łukacijewska, Sirpa Pietikäinen, Christine Schneider, Elissavet Vozemberg‑Vrionidi

Renew Group

Samira Rafaela, María Soraya Rodríguez Ramos, Susana Solís Pérez, Hilde Vautmans, Chrysoula Zacharopoulou, Marco Zullo

S&D Group

Robert Biedroń, Vilija Blinkevičiūtė, Heléne Fritzon, Lina Gálvez Muñoz, Radka Maxová, Maria Noichl, Pina Picierno, Evelyn Regner

The Left Group

Elena Kountoura, Eugenia Rodríguez Palop

Verts/ALE Group

Alice Kuhnke, Terry Reintke, Diana Riba i Giner, Sylwia Spurek




ECR Group

Andżelika Anna Możdżanowska, Margarita de la Pisa Carrión, Jessica Stegrud

ID Group

Christine Anderson, Simona Baldassarre, Isabella Tovaglieri







Key to symbols:

+ : in favour

- : against

0 : abstention

Last updated: 29 April 2022
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