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Belgrade, Serbia, May 15, 2014
—At an event hosted by IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, more than 70 participants called for a stronger private sector role in generating more and better jobs for women in the Western Balkans and increasing collaboration between government institutions and the private sector.
The conference attracted executives from leading firms, such as the Serbian arm of the car producer Fiat and the Croatian arm of the consulting firm Deloitte, as part of IFC’s broader effort to help remove barriers to women’s employment in the Western Balkans.
“Creating more and better jobs for women not only improves their economic prospects but can also help companies become more competitive,” said Per Kjellerhaug, IFC Regional Manager for the Western Balkans. “In that respect, the private sector is the key catalyst for creating more and better jobs for women in the region.”
Across the Western Balkans, women face weak workplace support systems, including often unaffordable child care, limited access to corporate networks, and inadequate accommodation for family responsibilities. This limits their potential for entering the workforce and advancing their careers.
“We strongly believe that investing in women’s employment as part of a company strategy and training and developing women inside the organization can help companies be more competitive, improve business results, and attract more talent,” said Cristiano Franchino, HR Director of Fiat Automobili Srbija.
“Investing in women’s employment not only creates economic opportunities for women, but is also essential for economic growth,” said Tony Verheijen, the World Bank’s Country Manager for Serbia. “This is a strategic priority for the World Bank Group and could be a powerful driver of smarter development.”
IFC’s Corporate Governance Program in Europe and Central Asia, supported by the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), promotes gender board diversity to improve company dynamics and performance and works across the region to strengthen the skills of female business leaders and board members.
Globally, IFC supports the participation of women in business as an important part of its mission to foster sustainable private sector growth in developing countries. IFC works with financial institutions to expand financial services to women entrepreneurs through targeted credit lines, market analyses, and capacity building.
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is the largest global development institution focused exclusively on the private sector. Working with private enterprises in more than 100 countries, we use our capital, expertise, and influence to help eliminate extreme poverty and promote shared prosperity. In FY13, our investments climbed to an all-time high of nearly $25 billion, leveraging the power of the private sector to create jobs and tackle the world’s most pressing development challenges. For more information, visit
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