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EXIM Celebrates Women’s History Month and International Women's Day With Business Resources
March 07, 2024 Jane Lemons, Business Development Specialist

Each year in March, two significant events take place to underscore the achievements of women in the United States and around the world.

During Women’s History Month, the nation celebrates the vital roles women have played throughout American history by advancing business, innovation, and advocacy for greater equity and access. On March 8, International Women's Day highlights the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women worldwide.

With women owning more than one in five U.S. businesses, the Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM) commends those contributions to the American economy and workforce. EXIM  remains committed to helping historically underserved businesses succeed, and Chair Reta Jo Lewis offers a special message of encouragement.

EXIM President and Chair Reta Jo Lewis celebrates Women's History Month. You also can view her message here.

Bridging the Financial Gap with Trade Finance Support

The most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows the number of women-owned businesses continues to grow, providing a major impact on the U.S. economy. The Census Bureau found that in 2021:

  • There were 1.3 million women-owned businesses across all sectors of the U.S. economy.
  • That represented 22 percent of U.S. businesses.
  • Those businesses generated $2.1 trillion in annual receipts.
  • They accounted for 10.5 million employees and about $499.4 billion in annual payroll.

To help U.S. companies expand their international sales, EXIM provides numerous resources for small businesses including those owned by women, such as Export Credit Insurance and Working Capital Loan Guarantees, so they can compete successfully in the global marketplace.

To spread the word about EXIM financing to underserved communities, EXIM's Minority and Women Owned Business Division (MWOB) works closely with organizations that have a minority trade focus to create opportunities for U.S. companies that are owned by women, minorities, veterans, people with disabilities, and the LGBTQ+ community along with rural and startup businesses.

"There are so many opportunities for women, and women of color, to expand their trade internationally," said Lezlee Westine, President & CEO of the Personal Care Products Council. She serves as co-chair of EXIM's Council on Advancing Women in Business.

"It's very well known that over one in five small businesses are owned by women. Over five million businesses are owned by women of color," she continued. "And yet there is a gap — a financial gap of opportunities. That's something that we are focusing in on — building partnerships, building collaborations, working with the Export-Import Bank so that we can give these  small businesses, these women, and these minorities more opportunity for economic growth."

Women's History Month: Recognizing Accomplishments

Women’s History Month dates to 1980, when President Jimmy Carter issued the first presidential proclamation declaring a Women’s History Week. While women’s history weeks continued for several years, a number of states adopted month-long celebrations. In 1987, Congress declared March as Women’s History Month nationwide. Since 1995, presidents have followed suit, issuing annual proclamations commemorating Women’s History Month.

This year, in proclaiming March as Women’s History Month, President Joe Biden praised the courageous women who have helped build a more fair and just society throughout American history.

“During Women’s History Month, we celebrate the countless women who have fought tirelessly and courageously for equality, justice, and opportunity in our Nation,” he said. “We also reaffirm our commitment to advancing rights and opportunities for women and girls in the United States and around the world. We are mindful that we are building on the legacy of both recognized trailblazers and unsung heroines who have guided the course of American history and continue to shape its future.” 

International Women's Day: Inspiring Inclusion

Celebrated annually on March 8, International Women’s Day dates to 1911, when it was first observed with rallies in several countries for women's right to vote and hold public office, for better working conditions, and for an end to discrimination. Less than a week later, on March 25, 1911, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire took place in New York City, causing the deaths of 146 workers — mostly women and girls — and leading to regulations requiring improved workplace safety conditions. The United Nations began observing International Women’s Day in 1975, and it’s now celebrated as an official holiday in many countries.

This year's theme of "Inspire Inclusion" underscores the progress that has been made toward gender equality while also highlighting the work that remains to be done.

International Womens Day 2024

EXIM is committed to prioritizing equity and providing resources to support U.S. small businesses, including those owned by women. To find out how EXIM can help your business compete in the global marketplace in 2023 and beyond, schedule a free consultation with a trade finance specialist and launch your export journey today.

Get a Free Export Finance Consultation Today!

EXIM’s Blog postings are intended to highlight various facets of exporting, but the postings are not legal advice, and are not intended to summarize all legal requirements associated with exporting.