Words by Angela Brennan
A CAMPAIGN group has released a manifesto calling for greater support of women in business.
Yvonne Bignall and Helen Farmer, who work with businesswomen across Bristol, have also lobbied politicians to take action.
They are part of Prowess Connect, an organisation pushing to get women a better deal in business, which has highlighted five key points to be put on the agenda ahead of the General Election next year.
The team believe women in business could be more successful if politicians addressed the following areas: leadership, skills, childcare, social security and investment and funding.
Helen, founder of VoicebyVolume in Stoke Gifford, set up her own business after she was made redundant last year.
The mum of two said: “I know first-hand the challenges and opportunities of running my own business.
“I believe we need action on many levels – from government improvements to more local support. It’s important to help women help themselves and other self-employed people with similar challenges.”
Single mum Yvonne Bignall, who set up Launching Women In Business (LWIB) two years ago, said: “The main challenges women face in business are confidence in their abilities, financing and childcare.
“I am backing this manifesto wholeheartedly. I believe if these issues are addressed we will see more women thriving in business.”
The move follows her Yvonne’s visit to number 10 last year for a roundtable discussion with the Prime minister’s aides.
According to the Office of National Statistics (ONS), women are now starting more new enterprises than men. Since 2008, there has been a 30 per cent increase in female self-employment, compared to seven per cent for men.
Prowess has put forward steps to help support women in business. It includes looking at increasing the number of women in business and political leadership, tailoring training, reviewing childcare support, offering a safety net for the self-employed and providing a fair share of government business investment.
Jack Lopresti, MP for Filton and Bradley Stoke, has responded to the manifesto in a letter.
He said the government aimed to encourage women into work and business by “tackling the barriers to equal opportunities and social mobility.”
Mr Lopresti said various measures had been put in place to improve gender equality in the workplace.
He said: “One of the main barriers to work for women can be childcare, which is why the government wants to encourage more good quality, affordable and reliable childcare to give working mothers and families more childcare provision choices.”
For more information on the manifesto, visit http://www.prowess.org.uk/manifesto-women-in-business