Conference builds on empowering women in business

Gender is a ‘cross cutting’ issue for the New Zealand Aid programme. This means gender issues are taken into account when designing, implementing and evaluating aid initiatives. The New Zealand Aid Programme considers gender equality and women’s empowerment essential for achieving sustainable, equitable development. The New Zealand Aid programme currently provides $2.5 million in core funding annually to the United Nations agency, UN Women.

One important enterprise resulting from a partnership between the UN Global Compact Office and UN Women is the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs), a set of guidelines for businesses on empowering women in the workplace, the marketplace and the community.

In early March 2012, participants from civil society, business and academia met in New York to reflect on WEP progress and discuss how businesses already supporting the WEPs are going about realising the principles. Sessions at the two day conference focused on:

  • Applying a gender lens to corporate sustainability efforts to maximize impact and contribution to sustainable development;
  • Increasing the number of women business leaders on boards, at senior executive level and throughout the leadership pipeline;
  • Integrating gender into corporate sustainability reporting;
  • Including rural and marginalized women in economic empowerment; and
  • Integrating women’s empowerment into management education

Other themes included the importance of engaging men in the WEPs, the business case for gender equality and women’s empowerment, the significance of reporting and communicating progress, multi-stakeholder collaborations to raise awareness of the WEPs and support implementation, the challenge of changing corporate cultures, and understanding consumer influence and its impact on corporate efforts to empower women. 

The Women’s Empowerment Principles:

  • Establish high-level corporate leadership for gender equality
  • Treat all women and men fairly at work – respect and support human rights and non-discrimination.
  • Ensure the health, safety and well-being of all women and men workers
  • Promote education, training and professional development for women
  • Implement enterprise development, supply chain and marketing practices that empower women.
  • Promote equality through community initiatives and advocacy
  • Measure and publicly report on progress to achieve gender equality.

Find out more about the WEP Principles or download the WEP Leadership Group's report from the March 2012 meeting.

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