GENDER SENSITIVITY AND ENTERPRISE SUPPORT PROGRAMMES: THE EXPERIENCE OF BUMIPUTERA WOMEN HANDICRAFT ENTREPRENEURS IN SABAH

Salmah Topimin, Merlyn Rita Buncha

Abstract


Women’s experience in accessing entrepreneurial support programmes remains largely unexplored. This paper addresses this gap by investigating the perceptions of women entrepreneurs on the extent to which the concept of gender sensitivity is incorporated into the implementation government entrepreneurial support programmes (GESPs). This study was contextualised within the experiences of Bumiputera women handicraft entrepreneurs (BWEs) in Sabah, Malaysia: the leading state in the country in terms of the number of handicraft producers. This study adopts an interpretative approach and uses semi-structured interviews as the main data collection technique in exploring the perceptions and views of 21 BWEs and five government officials (GOs) on GESPs. The findings revealed that there is a lack of gender sensitivity in the way GESPs are designed and implemented. Not only that GESPs are being implemented based on the male-oriented approach, the study also revealed that GOs are less sensitive towards gender issues that confront BWEs. This paper shows the importance of incorporating the gender issues into the process of implementing entrepreneurial support programmes for women entrepreneurs. This paper contributes to the literature on entrepreneurial support programmes for women entrepreneurs in a non-Western context.

 

Keywords: government entrepreneurial support programmes, gender sensitivity, Bumiputera women entrepreneurs, handicraft industry.


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