Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum
Issue 45.2020
2020.11.02 — 2020.11.08
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's greetings to the organisers and participants of the 2nd BRICS International Municipal Forum, Moscow, November 6, 2020 (Приветственное слово Министра иностранных дел Российской Федерации С.В.Лаврова организаторам и участникам II Международного муниципального форума стран БРИКС, Москва, 6 ноября 2020 года) / Russia, November, 2020
Keywords: sergey_lavrov, quotation

I would like to welcome the organisers and participants of the second BRICS International Municipal Forum in St Petersburg.

Dialogue at the municipalities level is growing to become an integral part of the diverse cooperation tracks among the five countries. It is difficult to overestimate its contribution to building up our economic, tourist, cultural, and interpersonal ties. Exchange of experience on urban infrastructure development is just as significant. Such efforts aimed at strengthening friendship, trust and mutual understanding between our peoples deserve respect.

I am delighted that, despite the difficult epidemiological situation, you are carrying on with the work you started last year, even though now it is fully conducted online. Your agenda is very broad; you are going to discuss a wide range of topics related to the socioeconomic life in municipalities across the BRICS countries, from construction and transport to digitalisation and innovations.

I am confident that the forum will be held in a constructive manner, will enable mutually beneficial professional contacts, and joint promising undertakings. I wish you fruitful discussions and all the best.
Press release on Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov's participation in the Meeting of BRICS Sherpas/Sous-Sherpas (Об участии заместителя Министра иностранных дел России С.А.Рябкова во встрече шерп/су-шерп стран БРИКС) / Russia, November, 2020
Keywords: top_level_meeting, mofa

On November 5, Russia's Sherpa for BRICS and Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov took part in the Meeting of BRICS Sherpas/Sous-Sherpas of the five member states via videoconference. The meeting focused on the preparations for the upcoming 12th BRICS Summit.
Russian BRICS Chairmanship Statement on the Outcomes of the Sixth BRICS Parliamentary Forum (Заявление председательства России в БРИКС по итогам Шестого Парламентского форума БРИКС) / Russia, November, 2020
Keywords: top_level_meeting, concluded_agreements

On 27 October 2020, the Sixth BRICS Parliamentary Forum was held via videoconference.

The Forum participants, while noting the special role of legislative bodies in establishing BRICS as the influential factor in the international politics and economy, exchanged views on the development of BRICS inter-parliamentary cooperation in the interest of strengthening many faceted strategic partnership, global stability, common security and innovative growth.

They reaffirmed the focus of the parliaments of BRICS countries on cooperation in the formation of a multipolar international system based on the sovereign equality of states, non-interference in their internal affairs, the right of all peoples to determine their own destiny, renunciation of the threat or use of force, mutual respect for the interests of all participants, protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms. In the year of the 75th anniversary of the establishment of the United Nations, they reaffirmed support for strengthening the central coordinating role of the UN in international affairs on the basis of the generally recognized norms and principles of international law enshrined in the Charter of this universal Organization, and also emphasized the inadmissibility of attempts to undermine and revise the existing international legal framework and the introduction of any measures of a coercive nature that are contrary to international law and the UN Charter.

While celebrating the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II and the Victory over Nazism, they noted the need to intensify efforts, including at the legislative level, in the fight against justifying Nazi ideology, racism and xenophobia, distortion of history, including the causes, course and results of World War II;

They have expressed deep concern about the international challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, its drastic impact on human health, social and economic spheres on a global scale, as well as such problems as imposing unilateral actions and protectionism.

They have agreed to pay special attention to strengthening the capacity of the World Health Organization, further building up the positive contribution of the BRICS countries to international health security, as well as legislative initiatives undertaken within the framework of the BRICS group in this area, including all possible assistance in the implementation of the provisions of the Ufa (2015) and Xiamen (2017) Declarations of the BRICS Summits on intensifying efforts to combat the risks of infectious diseases, as well as an early and effective commissioning of the BRICS Center for Vaccine Research and Development;

They have confirmed the interest in exchanging experience and cooperation in the area of public health care, in matters of "post-COVID" economic recovery, including support for small and medium-sized enterprises, improving labor legislation, social protection of citizens, development of remote areas;

They have noted the relevance of legislative support for the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals 2030 and the provision of parliamentary support for cooperation between the BRICS countries in the field of economy and trade, climate change, poverty eradication, women and children rights, the fight against corruption, culture, science, education, civil society, youth contacts, sports, as well as solutions to other most pressing social issues in the regional and global dimensions;

They have expressed the intention to strengthen and to develop the inter-parliamentary cooperation in fighting against terrorism and the financing of terrorist activities; They have emphasized the importance of developing a regulatory framework for cooperation among the BRICS countries in the field of new technologies and the digital economy, ensuring the digital sovereignty of states, protecting the rights of citizens in the digital space;

In order to expand the legal framework of the BRICS multifaceted cooperation in line with the current realities and to facilitate the search for best collective responses to modern global challenges, they spoke in favor of developing a regular communication mechanism for legislators of the BRICS States to exchange views on topical issues on the international agenda.

The Forum participants called for the further development of the BRICS parliamentary dimension.

Russian Upper House Speaker Proposes Creation of Single Platform for BRICS, SCO, EAEU (Спикер верхней палаты Российской Федерации предлагает создать единую платформу для БРИКС, ШОС, ЕАЭС) / Pakistan, November, 2020
Keywords: cooperation, political_issues

The speaker of Russia's upper house, Valentina Matviyenko, on Tuesday has proposed creating a single discussion platform for member states of BRICS, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU).

"Given our commitment to building interregional ties, I am proposing to create a discussion platform that unites other initiatives, such as BRICS, the SCO, and the EAEU," Matviyenko said during the BRICS Parliamentary Forum.

According to the upper house speaker, the creation of such a platform could help strengthen global cooperation.

Matviyenko also called for greater legislative support to help the BRICS member states cooperate in the economic and security spheres.

"The efforts of the five states [BRICS member states] need greater legislative support in order to strengthen security and promote economic growth," the upper house speaker said.

These efforts could help economic anti-crisis measures, fiscal and financial matters, and the health care sector, Matviyenko stated, adding that work must also be undertaken to establish a legal framework for digital transformation processes.

Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa are the five member states of BRICS. The bloc's 12th summit is scheduled to take place via videoconference on November 17.

Investment and Finance
Investment and finance in BRICS
Bilateral issues not causing 'major disruptions' for BRICS bank operations: VP (Двусторонние проблемы, не вызывающие «серьезных сбоев» в работе банков БРИКС: вице-президент) / China, November, 2020
Keywords: ndb, economic_challenges

Bilateral issues among member states of the BRICS' New Development Bank (NDB) have not caused "major disruptions" to the normal operations of the bank, and the bank has approved tens of billions of dollars in loans to help countries such as China, India and Brazil to combat the COVID-19 epidemic, the bank's vice president and chief operating officer said on Monday.

"When bilateral relations encounter some issues, we hope that it won't affect multilateral [organizations]. So, I think we should say we haven't been impacted by major disruptions," Zhu Xian, NDB vice president and COO, said at a press event in Shanghai, noting that as a multilateral bank for the BRICS countries, the bank is a platform for cooperation among developing and emerging nations.

To help the member countries cope with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the NDB has provided four of the five member states – China, India, Brazil and South Africa – with an emergency loan of $1 billion, according to Zhu. The loans were aimed at supporting jobs and repairing supply chains in China, helping the unemployed in India and financing small and medium-sized businesses in Brazil.

"In the next round, what we will do is to provide similar loans to help their economies recover," Zhu said.

Established by the BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – in Shanghai in July 2015, the bank has already made outstanding loans of $20 billion and is expanding its operations as it seeks to move to a new headquarters in Shanghai's Pudong area – a frontier of China's opening-up policies.

During its latest meeting on September 29, the NDB also approved five infrastructure projects with a total commitment of about $1.03 billion, including a loan of $241 million for the Mumbai Metro Rail II project, $500 million for the Delhi-Ghaziabad-Meerut Regional Rapid Transit System Project, and 100 million euros ($118.09 million) for the Russian Water Transport Sector Project, according to an NDB press release.
While the bank's operations have not been impacted by bilateral tensions between member countries, it has set up polices to not approve loans for projects in disputed areas, Zhu said. "That way, there is a clear line for bilateral problems at the bank," he said.

The comments were apparently referring to border tensions between China and India. Chinese officials say India constantly broke bilateral agreements and spurred trouble at the border.

"As for global political contradictions, what we have to grasp is that bilateral issues should not be brought to the multilateral [platforms]," Zhu said, adding that the bank should also help member states to deal with the impact from US sanctions.

"The US' intensifying sanctions on some member states, including sanctions on Russia, have some technical impact on us, and we also need to deal with it," he said.

World of Work
BRICS Women's Group Establishment Planned to Be Finalized in November (Создание женской группы БРИКС планируется завершить в ноябре) / Russia, November, 2020
Keywords: social_issues, business_council

The final documents on the establishment of the BRICS Women's Business Alliance are planned to be approved during the November summit, Mikhail Kalugin, the head of the BRICS Office at the Russian Foreign Ministry's Department of Foreign Policy Planning, said.

"I know that intensive work is in progress via video conferences, and we hope that the final documents will have been approved by the beginning of BRICS summit, which will be held on November 17 via video conference," Kalugin said.

The diplomat stressed that the Women's Business Alliance will be established in 2020 the year of the Russian presidency in BRICS.

Anna Nesterova, the head of a Russian sector of the BRICS Women's Business Alliance, said that the alliance would support the BRICS Business Council in the spheres where women generally worked, namely health care, the economy, sustainable business, food security and tourism.

"The alliance will be established in accordance with the Business Council's organization. Each national sector of the Women's Business Alliance includes five representatives from a country, who have passed through all the stages of own business development, overcome major hurdles and are aimed to enter the international market," Nesterova said.

The idea of creating the BRICS Women's Business Alliance was proposed by Russia in 2017. Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly supported the promotion of women's business in the framework of BRICS.

Russian experts to assess social and humanitarian initiatives under the Russian BRICS Chairmanship in 2020 (Российские эксперты оценят социальные и гуманитарные инициативы в рамках председательства России в БРИКС в 2020 году) / Russia, November, 2020
Keywords: social_issues, chairmanship, expert_opinion

On 6 November at 11 am, RIA Novosti will host a news conference under the theme "BRICS Uniting People: New Projects of the Russian BRICS Chairmanship". The participants plan to discuss what results are expected from the implementation of the new social and humanitarian cooperation agreements between the BRICS countries. What could be the next steps to strengthen this cooperation, including under the Indian Chairmanship in 2021? What proposals have the BRICS civil and academic communities made for enhancing social and humanitarian cooperation?

The news conference will be attended by Victoria Panova, Managing Director of the Russian National Committee on BRICS Research, Scientific Supervisor of BRICS Russia Expert Council; Timofei Bordachyov, Programme Director at the Valdai Discussion Club, Academic Supervisor at the Centre for Comprehensive European and International Studies at the National Research University Higher School of Economics (HSE); Ivan Danilin, Head of the Department of Science and Innovation, Head of the Innovation Policy Sector at IMEMO RAS; and Alexandra Morozkina, Head of the Structural Reforms Division at Economic Expert Group (EEG).

The BRICS countries account for almost a half of the world's population, hundreds of ethnic groups and cultural traditions. Since the inception of BRICS, humanitarian contacts between the citizens of the five countries have been one of the key pillars of cooperation. The architecture of social and humanitarian interaction in BRICS is a multi-faceted network of mechanisms and platforms, and the BRICS countries continue developing it from year to year.

During the Russian BRICSChairmanship in 2020, some major activities were launched to develop new ideas in order to strengthen social and humanitarian cooperation between the BRICS countries. New agreements were reached on education, science, labour, youth policy, tourism, culture and sports.

Media accreditation at

The news conference streaming will be available at

BRICS examiners took part in the training on industrial designs (Эксперты БРИКС приняли участие в тренинге по промышленному проектированию) / Russia, November, 2020
Keywords: partnership, social_issues

On 27-29 October 2020, an annual Examiners' Training of BRICS IP Offices was held under the Russian BRICS Chairmanship in 2020 via videoconferencing. Representatives of Rospatent and Federal Institute of Industrial Property (FIPS) took part in the training from the Russian Side.

The training program included the discussion on practical aspects of industrial design protection and relevant legal developments in Russia, Brazil, India, China and South Africa. During the training, participants shared their experience in the features of industrial design examination and issues of judicial practice with case studies.

The key topic of the training was the international registration systems of industrial designs. Among the BRICS countries, only the Russian Federation is a member of the Hague System for the International Registration of Industrial Designs. In this regard, special attention was paid to Rospatent experience in processing applications submitted under this system.

The training was also marked by participation of the Eurasian patent office (EAPO) representative with a report on the development of the regional system of legal protection of industrial designs. This topic was highlighted due to the participation of the Russian Federation in the Protocol to the Eurasian Patent Convention of September 9, 1994 on the Protection of Industrial Designs. The document provides for the possibility of granting regional protection to industrial designs operating on the territory of each state-party that signs or accedes to the Protocol.

IX BRICS Trade Union Forum participants discussed measures to support workers during the pandemic (Участники IX Профсоюзного форума БРИКС обсудили меры поддержки работников во время пандемии) / Russia, November, 2020
Keywords: top_level_meeting, covid-19, social_issues

On 30 October, the annual plenary Meeting of the BRICS Trade Union Forum took place via videoconference under the Russian BRICS Chairmanship.

The Forum site in St Petersburg was attended by members of the Russian delegation led by Mikhail Shmakov, Chairman of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Russia (FNPR), and Olga Kulayeva, Director of the Bureau of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) for Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

The Forum participants included 106 delegates from 13 national trade unions from the BRICS countries, who represent almost 400 million workers, as well as Russian and foreign guests of honour.

The main topic of the Forum was the impact of the pandemic on the labour markets of the BRICS countries and the activities of trade unions, their role and goals under the current conditions.

The Forum participants received welcome addresses by Anton Kotyakov, Minister of Labour and Social Protection of the Russian Federation, Sergei Ryabkov, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation and Russian BRICS Sherpa, Alexander Shokhin, President of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, Sergei Katyrin, President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Russian Federation and Chairman of the Russian Chapter of the BRICS Business Council, Maria Helena Andre, Director of the ILO Bureau for Workers' Activities (ACTRAV, Geneva), and Olga Kulayeva, Director of the Bureau of the ILO for Eastern Europe and Central Asia (Moscow).

Opening the meeting, Chairman of the BRICS Trade Union Forum and FNPR President Mikhail Shmakov noted, that "the current epidemic has further exacerbated the socio-economic problems of the pre-crisis period. States are forced to incur unprecedented costs associated with supporting their populations. Thousands of enterprises have been forced to temporarily close their doors, and many of them are on the verge of ruin or have gone bankrupt. Development crises give impetus to qualitative leaps. What seemed familiar and acceptable yesterday must be reviewed with an awareness of the imperatives of today. Under these conditions, it is more important than ever to strengthen constructive five-sided labour cooperation. We welcome the deepening of cooperation among BRICS Ministers of Labour and Employment and support their efforts to continue the social dialogue."

Representatives from the largest national trade unions of Brazil, India, China and South Africa gave similar speeches while focusing on the specifics of overcoming the pandemic crisis in the labour markets of their countries.

The Russian delegates listed in detail the joint measures to support employment and protect the income of workers, developed and implemented by their social partners, as well as the actions of the FNPR on the legislative support of working from home.

Following the IX BRICS Trade Union Forum, the delegates adopted a Declaration, which reflected the position of the trade unions of the BRICS countries on the most pressing issues.

Valdai Club to Discuss Russia's BRICS Chairmanship (Валдайский клуб обсудит председательство России в БРИКС) / Russia, November, 2020
Keywords: chairmanship, expert_opinion

On November 11, at 11:00 a.m. Moscow time (GMT+3), the Valdai Club will host an online discussion, titled "Russia's BRICS Chairmanship in the Year of the COVID-19 Pandemic", featuring Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov.

On November 17, Russia will chair the 12th BRICS Summit, which will be held via videoconference. The event was originally slated to take place in July in St. Petersburg. However, the coronavirus pandemic has forced people and nations alike, throughout the world, to adjust to unfortunate new circumstances.

During the pandemic, the vast majority of countries have faced the need to take urgent measures to protect the health of their citizens and the normal functioning of national economies. Amid these conditions, international cooperation and the development of a common response were needed to meet the most important global challenges.

BRICS was created and works precisely as a response of its participants to such challenges as the redistribution of power in the world and the erosion of traditional international institutions. A great advantage of the BRICS is the absence of a leading state that would or could subordinate the rest in defining a common agenda. During the pandemic, the BRICS group performed better than most of the older, more hierarchically organised institutions, primarily those found in the West. At the same time, there are certain problems within the group, for example, the border conflict between India and China.

What are the challenges faced by BRICS in the year of the pandemic? How successful is cooperation within the BRICS? What have been Russia's main achievements as president of the group? How does BRICS solve its internal problems? The guests of the Valdai Club will answer these and other questions.

  • Akshay Mathur, Director of the Observer Research Foundation in Mumbai (India);
  • Philani Mthembu, Executive Director at the Institute for Global Dialogue, South Africa
  • Victoria Panova, Managing Director of the National Committee for BRICS Research, Academic Supervisor of the BRICS Russia Organizing Committee Expert Council, Vice-President for International Relations at the Far Eastern Federal University, Russia's Sherpa in W20
  • Sergey Ryabkov, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation
  • Xu Sitao, Chief Economist, Partner at Deloitte (China)

Working languages: Russian, English.

For accreditation, you must fill out the form on our website, indicate your personal mobile number and have the WhatsApp application installed.

Please send questions for speakers to or via WhatsApp to the number: +79269307763. Be sure to include your name and title, as well as the name of the speaker to whom the question is being addressed. Questions will be asked during the Q&A session.

A link to the live broadcast of the discussion will be posted on all online platforms used by the Valdai Club: on the website, on Facebook, Vkontakte, Instagram, and Telegram.

International BRICS Youth Business Incubator participants shared experience in creating and doing business in the five countries (Участники Международного молодежного бизнес-инкубатора БРИКС поделились опытом создания и ведения бизнеса в пяти странах) / Russia, November, 2020
Keywords: social_issues, business_council

On 2 November 2020, the International BRICS Youth Business Incubator concluded. It was organized under the Russian BRICS Chairmanship by the Federal Agency for Youth Affairs (Rosmolodezh) and held from 20 October to 2 November 2020 via videoconference.

For two weeks, over 60 young entrepreneurs from the BRICS countries presented their projects and exchanged experience on creating and doing business in the five BRICS countries.

The education sessions included speeches by entrepreneurship and intercultural communication experts, among them Olga Bolkunova, expert of the Russia-China Youth Business Incubator, Svyatoslav Zverev, Deputy Chair of the Council for the Development of Youth Scientific and Technical Initiatives at the Moscow Confederation of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, Sachidanand Swami, Master of Sciences from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) and Tesun Jia, Deputy Director of the Chinese Youth Exchange Center.

During the final session of the programme Tatyana Seliverstova, Head of the Department for International Activities of the Federal Agency for Youth Affairs, reviewed the Forum's work and presented the project of the "International IT Valley", which is expected to be launched in the Ulyanovsk Region in 2021.

After the Forum, the Federal Agency for Youth Affairs and the relevant Line Agencies in BRICS will continue to assist programme associates in holding bilateral business talks.

BRICS Future Skills Challenge to reveal new technologies and competences for the five countries' high-tech industries and transforming economies (Конкурс BRICS Future Skills Challenge для выявления новых технологий и компетенций для высокотехнологичных отраслей пяти стран и трансформирующихся экономик) / Russia, November, 2020
Keywords: innovations, economic_challenges

The international BRICS Future Skills Challenge Competition, supported by WorldSkills Russia, will be held in Moscow on 9-17 November via videoconference and by personal attendance.

Over a thousand competitors, experts, delegates and commentators from the Federative Republic of Brazil, the Russian Federation, the Republic of India, the People's Republic of China and the Republic of South Africa will take part in the event at the sites assigned in their countries.

During the BRICS Future Skills Challenge in real time all the five countries will apply new technological and digital solutions created by WorldSkills Russia, which will be tested and improved to organize training sessions and competitions under any circumstances, along with the partners' special digital platforms, which will serve as the competition's venues.

The programme of the BRICS Future Skills Challenge includes 19 Future Skills competencies, which are expected to gain priority on the labour market. The competition is designed to promote the joint creation of new technologies and competencies, test new solutions and prepare and implement programmes for the priority training of professionals for the five countries' high-tech industries and transforming economies.

Submit your applications at

The event's documents and regulations are available on Google Drive

Anna Nesterova, Head of the Russian National Chapter of the BRICS Women's Business Alliance: "Women's business development is one of the most promising drivers of economic growth" (Анна Нестерова, глава Российского национального отделения Женского бизнес-альянса БРИКС: «Развитие женского бизнеса - один из самых многообещающих драйверов экономического роста») / Russia, November, 2020
Keywords: business_council, expert_opinion, economic_challenges, quotation

The Russian BRICS Chairmanship has paied particular attention to the launch of the Women's Business Alliance (WBA). Anna Nesterova, Chairperson of the Board of GlobalRusTrade and Head of the Russian National Chapter of the BRICS Women's Business Alliance, shares her views on women's business amid the pandemic and the WBA's short-term and strategic objectives.

  • Ms Nesterova, 2020 can be considered as the year when the Women's Business Alliance started its practical work. What objectives is the WBA facing in the short term?
The latter half of 2020 has indeed been quite eventful for the BRICS Women's Business Alliance. In July, WBA held its first meeting in a videoconference format. During the past few months, we succeeded in organizing a series of bilateral online consultations with the Heads of the National Chapters of the WBA from Brazil, India, China and South Africa.

On 26 October, the BRICS Business Forum was held, with a session on women's business included. The following day, we held a news conference, with the participation of representatives of the WBA's Russian National Chapter. Finally, on 2 November, we held a VTC meeting of all the 25 WBA members and coordinated all issues related to its activities.

One of the main objectives for now is to form working groups and involve participants from each of the countries. We are also planning to draw up a handover report on what has been done and what is planned, as well as on proposals, initiatives and projects. This plan of action will enable us to reach the WBA's aims and objectives accurately and in time.

  • You are always in contact with your BRICS colleagues. What expectations and estimates do they have with regard to economic development amid the pandemic?
COVID-19 has strongly affected everyone's social and economic well-being and will have large-scale consequences for the global economy. The June issue of the World Economic Outlook projects global growth in 2020 at the level of minus 4.9 percent.

The BRICS countries have been hit strongly by the pandemic. The GDP of most BRICS countries declined considerably during the second quarter of 2020: by 51 percent in South Africa, 23.9 percent in India, 9.7 percent in Brazil, and 8.5 percent in Russia, as compared to the same period last year. At the same time, the Chinese economy resumed growth in the second quarter after a record plunge of 6.8 percent in the first quarter of 2020.

Experts believe that the BRICS economies will recover by following a V-shaped scenario in the fourth quarter of 2020.

Currently, everyone is seeking new sources of growth. For example, e-commerce is considered to be one of the driving forces promoting the development of small and medium-sized businesses. Moreover, in a pandemic environment, online trade has emerged as the only possible sales method. For example, proposals submitted by our WBA partners are focusing heavily on the need to promote women's businesses via e-commerce channels.

Generally, women's business development is one of the most promising economic growth drivers. Goldman Sachs data indicates that an equal male/female involvement in BRICS economic processes can accelerate GDP growth by an average of 0.8 percent per year. Therefore, creating a cooperation mechanism intended to promote and support women's entrepreneurship in the BRICS countries is a very timely step.

  • The current economic situation in the world and in Russia is creating new challenges for women entrepreneurs. What challenges do you see?
The crisis triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the business environment and, according to UN Women, women entrepreneurs have been affected more by it than men (64 percent versus 52 percent, respectively). Russia is no exception: according to a study by the NAFI think tank, the lockdown and the subsequent economic decline have taken a toll on 90 percent of women's and 82 percent of men's businesses in Russia.

First and foremost, tourism and hospitality, consumer services and retail, where the majority of workers are women, are the most affected industries. Therefore, it has become particularly important to define the most efficient ways to change business models in order to minimize the impact of the pandemic and stay afloat. Damage can be mitigated if business activity can be, at least partially, moved online – be it retail, events, teaching or other services.

The pandemic has exacerbated another problem. According to UN Women, women perform on average three times more unpaid housework and childcare duties than men. The United Nations Development Programme estimates that this contribution is worth USD 11 trillion annually, or around 13 percent of the global GDP, and exceeds the GDP of India, Japan and Brazil put together. Additional measures such as wider access to the internet, education, healthcare and infrastructure can help reduce and redistribute unpaid labour.

It should also be noted that the crisis has brought another issue to the fore, which is low digital literacy, especially among the female population. All of our BRICS partners mentioned this issue at the session on digital economy, which took place during the BRICS Business Forum in October.

  • We have witnessed a stable growth in the share of women's business in the Russian Federation over the last few years. Is this trend the same today?
Women's businesses in Russia are primarily small and medium-sized businesses. According to the Russian Ministry of Economic Development, women are heading about 30 percent of the 5.8 million small and medium-sized businesses in this country. Thus, Russia is second on the Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs. Moreover, Russia's Women Business Index has been growing for the last two years. Today, this trend has not changed and, as I see it, the share of women in small and medium-sized businesses will only grow.

COVID-19 has forced many people both online (private tutoring, education services, consulting) and offline (food deliveries to the vulnerable and low income strata, volunteering), with women traditionally prevailing in this sphere. According to the ILO statistics, women make up over 58 percent of those employed in the services sector the world over.

Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 crisis, socially oriented entrepreneurship and social services have emerged as the backbone of the world economy and a means of support for the population. In Russia, women are implementing 90 percent of social business and child development projects.

Equally, it cannot be denied that women's business strengths, such as mobility and caution, enable us to take more balanced decisions and treat any crisis as a major opportunity.

  • What is the procedure for companies that want to join the Russian National Chapter of the Women's Business Alliance? Are there any restrictions and what incentives and opportunities are available for alliance members?
The Alliance already has its own website,, that we will expand and develop as a platform where women can get access to online education, best business administration practices and reliable partners from across BRICS. Right now, companies can apply for the WBA membership via the website by stating their business interests and providing contact information.

The BRICS Women's Business Alliance is open to absolutely all women; there are no restrictions when it comes to age or an industry they represent. We are glad to welcome everybody who is ready for international cooperation and we urge women to get actively involved in the alliance's work, especially those living in remote and rural areas. Since we are currently building working groups and their agendas, it is important for us to accommodate the interests of the entire women's business community in Russia.

I should also point out that every day we receive applications from women entrepreneurs from the BRICS countries via our platform and redirect these women who want to get involved in the WBA to their national chapters.

The companies that become BRICS WBA members can benefit from two main opportunities, which are an access to exports and international cooperation. It is a chance to develop new partnerships with such major corporations as Huawei, Petrobras, Alibaba, Apollo Hospitals, Brazil Foods, Natura and others.

Women entrepreneurs can also promote their companies' and their countries' interests to build global value chains, to create multilateral projects, international mentorship programmes, to share experience and obtain new knowledge from mentors. WBA membership means unlimited access to the common platform for women's business in BRICS.

  • The news conference held on 27 October outlined the Alliance's mid-term priorities. What do you expect from 2021? And is it even possible to make predictions today?
I am certain that our work will not be paralysed. Neither the Business Council nor the BRICS Women's Business Alliance has suspended its work this year. We plan to launch working groups within the WBA. National secretariats are already in charge of the alliance's administration.

The WBA's work will follow the Business Council's agenda which should be complemented rather than duplicated. We will focus on such areas as innovative development, healthcare, food security and environmental safety, inclusive economy, creative industries and tourism. Our colleagues from the alliance have already proposed several specific projects and initiatives on which we plan to work together.

Due to the pandemic, we might not be able to organize offline meetings; however, we are going to deliver on all the plans that we mapped out with our BRICS partners.

Made on