Women, Enterprise and Employment in Local Development

01/06/2008 01/04/2011


Identifying and developing integrated local actions that improve women’s situation in employment, entrepreneurship and the knowledge economy are key to this thematic network. It is clear that the role that women play in terms of local regeneration is crucial, however, urban regeneration has always been a predominantly male affair. In particular, this network will focus on the key issues of: women and entrepreneurship, women in research and knowledge economy, gender inequalities in the workplace and the labour market.

WEED - Women Enterprise and Employment in Local Development


LEAD PARTNER : Celje - Slovenia
  • Umea - Sweden
  • Karviná - Czech Republic
  • Medway
  • Brussels - Belgium
  • Amiens - France
  • Santiago De Compostela - Spain
  • Alzira - Spain
  • Enna - Italy
  • Crotone - Italy



Gender equality is a key challenge in the strategy the European Union is implementing for economic growth and employment. The “Europe 2020” strategy sets a goal of a 75% employment rate from women and men between the ages of 20 and 64, and the European Commission’s strategy for equality between women and men (2010-2015) recommends “using the potential and the reservoir of women’s talents more intensely and more effectively in order to increase economic and commercial benefits.” However, achieving these objectives remains compromised by obstacles that women face on the labour market and in their business creation projects. The involvement of cities remains an approach that is rarely supported, even though it is a key factor of progress. A considerable challenge for the partners was to juggle between their initial objectives and a context of economic crisis that was hardly favourable in order to make gender equality a local policy priority.



The main objective of WEED is to provide capacity building for professional development on the issue of women and economic and local development. To this end we will establish a transnational exchange programme in order to facilitate transfer of policy, planning and good practices.

The project will focus on a number of issues:

  • Women and entrepreneurship: The EU Roadmap for gender equality 2006-2010 indicates that the most common barriers for women to create new businesses are: access to sources of funding, access to technology, identifying potential markets, lack of self-confidence and management skills. The exchange will therefore focus on good practice related to addressing these barriers.
  • Women in the Knowledge Economy: A major factor related to the entrepreneurship of women is linked to their access to new technology and the segregation in education. In all countries, but in particular the new member states that have emerged out of the socialist system, women's level of higher education tends to exceed that of men. Despite the fact that women now represent the majority of high graduates (59%), their fields of study remain strongly stereotyped, and technical studies attract only 1 female graduate in ten. The exchange will therefore focus on strategies for changing this situation.

Gender equality and the labour market: Much can be done at a local level to better employ women's potentials. Cities, in particular, should become more women friendly locations, by developing and supporting measures which: promote a life cycle approach to work, help reconcile work and private life, tackle women's unemployment, promote equal opportunity in the workplace and the labour market, and clearly confront discriminatory practices.


What motivates you to be part of the URBACT adventure?


In the past our city has had very positive and successful experiences working with other European cities and we are pleased to be once again involved in a transnational exchange programme. The theme of our network Women, Enterprise, Employment in Local Development is an important subject for our city and we hope to share and learn from each others experiences and to develop solutions that can be adapted to our local context.


Who would you like to benefit from the work achieved in your project?


In Celje women play a significant part in the labour market and make up around 45 % of the employment rate.  However among the biggest 50 private companies in Celje only 8 are officially led by women (16%). Within the framework of the WEED project we would like to address this issue and explore how the level of women owned and run businesses can be increased. We also would like find ways of how to best promote women interest and involvement in new technologies and/or science which is a newly developing sector in our region.


Main results


Through transnational sharing and analysis of examples of effective actions and Local Action Plans, the partner cities of the WEED project were able to develop new solutions to counter the obstacles that women face in employment, entrepreneurship and innovation.


Upon completion of the URBACT WEED project, the network formulated the following conclusions:


Municipalities have a role to play in supporting women and their entrepreneurial projects:

  • By setting up measures in schools for early intervention in fighting deep-seated attitudes concerning career choices for girls and boys and the roles of women and men.
  • By making micro-financing accessible to women.
  • By developing more integrated and more innovative support for business creation and growth.

At a local level, it is possible to act on the quality of women’s employment:

  • If employers create working conditions that are more favourable to family life.
  • If training flexible training activities open up new careers that are less gender-determined.
  • If social enterprises are encouraged to create new areas of growth.

Gender inequality in the knowledge economy can be overcome by:

  • Through interesting and better-targeted training, including local work based on knowledge centres.
  • By making the environment more favourable to women and the family.
  • By effective regional partnership between municipalities and universities.


A compilation of the best city initiatives listed by challenge:


Throughout the WEED project, the partner city network organised working meetings on the three major topics that served as a framework for developing their Local Action Plans. These meetings led to the publication of collections of good local practices led by eight partner cities as well as by other European and North American municipalities. These documents represent a lasting source of ideas for cities that would like to launch similar projects.

  • Women and entrepreneurship in times of crisis
  • Women, research and the knowledge economy
  • Gender inequality at work and on the employment market