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Leading Business and Civil Society Organizations, UN Agencies Call on Governments to Bring Down Legal Barriers to Women’s Economic Empowerment

Posted on 09/26/2015
(New York City, 26 September 2015) On the occasion of the international community's adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Women's Empowerment Principles (WEPs) Secretariat is pleased to join over twenty leading business organizations, civil society organizations and UN agencies in calling on governments around the world to take action to remove barriers to women's economic empowerment.  
Women face legal barriers to economic empowerment in virtually all countries inhibiting the potential of women – as employees and entrepreneurs – to participate effectively in the labour market and contribute fully to sustainable development. As the World Bank Group’s report Women, Business and the Law 2016 details, these include restrictions in access to jobs and finance and limitations on the rights of women to own and use property. 
The Call to Action includes a spectrum of concrete actions that governments can take to help create an enabling environment for inclusive economic growth, such as enacting laws that promote a level playing field for men and women, establishing effective public institutions and supporting women’s entrepreneurship through public procurement. It also points to the need for all actors, including business, to implement strategies and policies that foster women’s economic empowerment and highlights the Business for the Rule of Law Framework, an initiative of the UN Global Compact, and the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs), a joint initiative of the UN Global Compact and UN Women, as resources that can help Governments to engage businesses in achieving national priorities on governance and women's empowerment. 
In advance of the UN Private Sector Forum 2015 which will convene over 350 CEOs and Heads of State at UN Headquarters in New York City to discuss how government and business can work together to achieving the SDGs, Ursula Wynhoven, General Counsel and Chief, Legal, Governance and Social Sustainability of the UN Global Compact, pointed out the relevance of the call to action to SDG 5, dedicated to women’s empowerment, and SDG 16, focused on good governance, and noted that women’s economic empowerment is a key enabler to achieving a wide range of development targets across the 17 SDGs: 
“While there may be no silver bullet for sustainable development, unleashing the potential of women and girls as change agents has a powerful multiplier effect. Ensuring that women and girls have the same economic opportunities as men and boys, is proven to benefit families, communities, nations and economies and is essential to accelerate implementation across all the SDGs.” 
The call to action compliments existing appeals for coordination and collaboration between stakeholders to advance gender equality and achieve sustainable development, such as the Partnering for Women’s Empowerment – Equality Means Business statement adopted at the 2015 Women’s Empowerment Principles Event on 11 March 2015, and the ITC-led Trailblazer Summit Call to Action issued on 1 September 2015 in São Paulo, Brazil, which aims to bring one million women-owned businesses to markets by 2020. 
For more information about the Call to Action: Bringing Down Legal Barriers for Women’s Economic Empowerment, please contact Christina Koulias at and Dzana Ferhatbegovic at