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Thursday, 11 July, 2002, 07:28 GMT 08:28 UK
Women gather for business summit
World Economic Forum
Businesswomen want an alternative to Davos

A business summit attended by 600 women entrepreneurs and political leaders has got under way in Barcelona.

The Global Summit of Women is a riposte to the male-dominated World Economic Forum held most years in the Swiss ski resort of Davos.

Belgium's Deputy Prime Minister, Laurette Onkelinx, and her Irish counterpart, Mary Harney, will be among those attending.

Spanish women
The number of Spanish women in the workforce has risen sharply

Barcelona has been chosen as the venue because of its record in fostering women entrepreneurs.

It may not read like a who's who of top international corporations but this summit has no shortage of business expertise.

Among those leading the discussions will be Amparo Moraleda, the president of IBM Spain, and Pansy Ho, managing-director of Shun Tak Holdings, Hong Kong's largest conglomerate.

Best practices

The summit is billed as a forum for deal-making, networking and empowerment for women business managers.

But the main emphasis is on an exchange of practical expertise in the art of building a successful enterprise.

The summit director, Irene Natividad, says the gathering is much more than a Davos for women.

"What we're trying to do at the summit is to share what are called best practices - programmes that help women increase their entrepreneurial clout," she says.

Less than 30 years since the end of the Franco dictatorship, Spain has made impressive strides in increasing female participation in the workforce.

In Barcelona, 61% of working-age women have jobs - a figure higher than the EU average.

See also:

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