Empowering women to participate fully in economic life across all sectors and throughout all levels of economic activity is essential to:
Build strong economies;
Establish more stable and just societies;
Achieve internationally-agreed goals for development, sustainability and human rights;
Improve quality of life for women, men, families and communities; and
Propel businesses’ operations and goals.
Current research demonstrating that gender diversity helps business perform better signals that self interest and common interest can come together. UN Women, the UN Global Compact, other leading UN agencies, the World Bank and the World Economic Forum, reinforce the findings. Governments also recognize that women’s inclusion drives development, and acknowledge that achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and national economic and development plans requires rapidly moving towards gender equality.
In an increasingly globalized and interconnected world, utilizing all social and economic assets is crucial for success. Yet, despite progress, women continue to confront discrimination, marginalization and exclusion, even though equality between men and women stands as a universal international precept – a fundamental and inviolable human right.
For further information on the business case for Women’s Empowerment, please visit the Tools & Resources section
Yet, ensuring the inclusion of women’s talents, skills, experience and energies requires intentional actions and deliberate policies. The Women’s Empowerment Principles, a partnership initiative of UN Women and UN Global Compact (UNGC) provide a set of considerations to help the private sector focus on key elements integral to promoting gender equality in the workplace, marketplace and community.
Enhancing openness and inclusion throughout corporate policies and operations requires techniques, tools and practices that bring results. The Women’s Empowerment Principles, forged through an international multi-stakeholder consultative process, provide a “gender lens” through which business can analyze current initiatives, benchmarks and reporting practices. Informed by real-life business practices, the Principles help companies tailor existing policies and practices – or establish needed new ones – to realize women’s empowerment.
The Principles also reflect the interests of Government and civil society, and will support interactions among stakeholders as achieving gender equality requires the participation of all actors. As a leader in gender equality, UN Women brings three decades of experience to this partnership effort with the UN Global Compact, the world's largest corporate sustainability initiative with more than 12,000 participants (business and other stakeholders) in more than 160 countries.
Nearly all countries have affirmed this value through their recognition of the standards contained in international human rights treaties, which articulate for states a broad range of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. Distinctive documents highlight a spectrum of state responsibilities and human rights protections for women, indigenous peoples, children, workers and people with disabilities. Additionally, internationally agreed-on documents such as the Beijing Platform for Action adopted by all 189 countries at the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995 and the Millennium Declaration adopted by 189 countries in 2000, contribute to the overarching human rights framework.
These international standards illuminate our common aspiration for a life where the doors of opportunity are open to all. Where people can live free from violence, exercise legal redress and expect states to live up to their obligations to respect and protect the human rights of women, men and children and provide appropriate government services such as education and health.
These Conventions inform national law and help shape common values adopted by institutions throughout the world. Business leaders, working in close association with their peers, with governments, nongovernmental organizations and the United Nations, seek to apply these international standards that uphold an individual’s rights through their specifically designed policies and programmes. Their corporate commitment, reflected through the company’s mission statement and supported through public reporting on policies and practices, attests to the growing realization of how important these values are to business and their communities.