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Women’s Empowerment Principles Stakeholders Call for New UN-Business Paradigm

Posted on 03/11/2015

Business, Government and Civil Society Leaders Support Scaling-Up for Women’s Empowerment and Sustainable Development; Actor and Advocate Geena Davis Highlights Importance of WEPs in Tackling Unconscious Bias

(New York, 11 March 2015) – Over 300 participants from business, Government, civil society and the UN who gathered for the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) event, Unlimited Potential: Business Partners for Gender Equality, concluded the annual meeting by making an historic call to companies and Governments everywhere to scale up efforts to achieve gender equality, advance economic prosperity and realize the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Speaking at today’s WEPs event, Geena Davis, Academy Award-Winning Actor and Founder and Chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, remarked: “Media images are an incredibly powerful force in shaping how women are viewed and their value to society. The worlds that Hollywood is creating are in many cases bereft of female presence.”
She continued, “If we can change what the future looks like on screen, we can change what the future looks like in real life. We need the WEPs, we need to have conscious choices we can make and absolute clear steps we can take to mitigate and conquer unconscious bias.”
The “Partnering for Women’s Empowerment – Equality Means Business” statement outlines how business, the UN and Governments can scale up engagement to deliver for women and the Sustainable Development Goals. The document expresses concern that, despite progress since the 1995 Beijing Platform for Action (BPfA), many barriers to women’s and girls’ empowerment remain, limiting the potential contribution of over half the population to sustainable development and economic prosperity.  It also notes that while the 1995 Beijing Declaration called on Governments for an array of concrete actions to deliver equality for women and girls, the transformational role that business can play to accelerate progress went unexplored at that time.
Today’s partnership call underscores that the WEPs’ expanding business community proactively seeks to participate as a key partner in the international agenda to secure women’s rights and economic empowerment. The document, which was endorsed by acclamation at the meeting’s close, included calls for all stakeholders, including business, to be strategic partners for gender equality by:
  • Implementing commitments to end violence against women and girls;

  • Unleashing the benefits of women’s economic empowerment through Government actions to end gender discrimination, invest in women’s health, education and entrepreneurship;

  • Encourage and support men to ‘lead by example,’ and to take responsibility to help drive change; and

  • Draw on the WEPs roadmap to inform gender equality policies and programmes in business, Government and civil society organizations.

Participants built on the momentum of the annual event’s opening session on 10 March – which included remarks from UN Secretary Ban Ki-moon, Hillary Rodham Clinton, UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and a host of others – discussing innovative solutions for putting the WEPs into action by leveraging technology for gender equality and exploring new business models to scale up investment in women and girls.
Supporting this proactive agenda, Joseph Keefe, Chair of the WEPs Leadership Group, and President and CEO of Pax World Funds underscored the need for a new UN-Business paradigm. “It’s an opportunity to activate a new UN-Business paradigm that ups everyone’s participation,” said Keefe.  “It leverages what we each do best and what we all can do together to demolish those ‘glass ceilings’ and unleash women’s economic empowerment.”
Speakers pointed to the need to recognize the private sector as a strategic partner in achieving global gender equality, and the WEPs as a roadmap for business engagement with the UN and Governments.  With more than 900 CEO signatories worldwide, the Women’s Empowerment Principles, a partnership initiative of UN Women and the UN Global Compact, provides a seven-step roadmap for business on how to empower women in the workplace, marketplace and community. 
Companies that are implementing the 7 Principles are already working to narrow the pay gaps between men and women, ensure adequate representation of women at all levels, promote inclusion across company divisions, open procurement to women entrepreneurs, stop gender-based violence at the workplace and through community-based projects.
About the Women’s Empowerment Principles
The Women's Empowerment Principles – Equality Means Business is a joint initiative of UN Women and the UN Global Compact. The Principles outline seven steps for business on how to empower women in the workplace, marketplace and community. The Principles highlight that 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 business' operations and goals. Learn more at
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