UK unemployment falls even further thanks to women in the workplace.

According to figures released from the Office of National Statistics, UK unemployment is at an 11-year low of just 4.8%, while weekly earnings excluding bonuses are rising by an average 2.6%. The UK now has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the EU, beaten only by Germany and the Czech Republic, a statistic which is being positively heralded ahead of Brexit Negotiations. This figure has been significantly helped by the number of women in, or returning to work, reaching a record high of nearly 15 million.

Women dominate London Mayor’s business advisory board.

In an announcement made in November 2016, London Mayor Sadiq Khan launched a new Business Advisory Board, tapping into the capital’s business expertise to help the local economy grow. He hopes the group will contribute their ideas and experience to help boost London in the wake of the Brexit, and has appointed 10 women and six men to the task. The board will meet at least four times per year and will also provide insight on the impact of economic conditions, and policy decisions taken elsewhere, on business in London.

Iceland top of Global Gender Gap Index, while UK sits in 20th place.

The World Economic Forum produces the Global Gender Gap Index, a measure which quantifies the magnitude of gender disparities and tracks their progress over time, with a specific focus on the relative gaps between women and men across four key areas: health, education, economy and politics. The 2016 index placed Iceland at the top, a position which they have held for several years, while the UK is languishing in 20th place.
As part of their 100 Women Series, the BBC took a look at how and why Iceland remains so successful in gender equality. Key findings include that 88% of females currently participate in the workforce – the highest rate of all 144 countries indexed, and that for 20 of the last 50 years, the country has had a female head of state, 41% of their MPs are women, and 40% of board members now legally have to be female.

Women set to be more entrepreneurial than men in 2017.

According to a survey from business broadband provider Hyperoptic, 28% of women dream of starting their own business this year, compared with 24% of men. The research also found that the most entrepreneurial age group is 45-54 year olds, with nearly two thirds of this group keen to start their own business. The South West of England is the most ambitious region, with 28% of people living in the region hoping to start a business in 2017, closely followed by 24% of the population in London.

The biggest barrier to entrepreneurship though? Money. 34% of would-be entrepreneurs are currently held back by not having a steady income, 23% are confused by the prospect of tax and liability and 17% are fearful of the time it will take to successfully launch a business.

Business funding future AllBright thanks to new growth platform.

2016 saw the launch of a new funding and support platform for female-led businesses. AllBright is the brainchild of Debbie Wosskow and Anna Jones, two leading female entrepreneurs, and is set to provide female business owners with access to angel and crowdfunding investments as well as business learning through an academy. When asked about their drive for the platform, the dynamic duo cite that just 10% of global venture capital funds are currently directed at female-led businesses, a statistic they want to change, and that if every woman who wanted to run her own business, started a business then it could release a possible £10.1 billion boost to the UK economy. Find out more at www.allbright.co

Debbie Wosskow is founder and CEO at Love Home Swap and Anna Jones is CEO at Hearst Magazines UK

Female Winner of The Apprentice 2016: Alana Spencer.

Whether you are still a lover of the veritable Lord Sugar and his infamous ‘You’re Fired’ catchphrase, or you’d rather ignore the annual TV sensation, the 2016 final of The Apprentice included just one man
in the five strong final; an unprecedented event. The series, which was eventually won by Baker Alana Spencer, did much to expose and inspire strong, female entrepreneurs, but post-finale interviews and lingerie photoshoots from two of the contestants received derisive and disappointed comments from winner Alana. Speaking of the photoshoots of Frances Bishop and Jessica Cunningham, Alana commented “All it should come down to is work ethic and business plans. If women want to look good and feel better by putting on a bit of make-up and wearing nice clothes, then all power to them. But I don’t think looks should have any bearing.”

Madonna: Billboard Awards – Woman of the Year.

After being named ‘Woman of the Year’ at the Billboard Women in Music 2016 Awards, Madonna gave a heartfelt, brutally honest acceptance speech full of the horrors of sexism and misogyny that she has faced in her career, simultaneously dubbing herself ‘a different kind of feminist; a bad feminist’ highlighting her celebration of female power and sexuality. The most powerful phrases from her speech included her assertion that “the most controversial thing I have ever done is to stick around” and that “as women, we have to start appreciating our own worth and each other’s worth.” Whether you are a lover of Madonna and her music or not, you cannot deny that she has vision, drive and determination and is a lesson to us all in the value of self-belief and belief in the businesses that we run.

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