49% of women participate in the labour market compared to 76% of men. Photo: UNDP

Santiago/New York 27 February 2018 — Over 450 CEOs, government leaders and gender, labour and development experts from 25 countries kicked off the two-day IV Global Forum Business for Gender Equality today in Santiago, Chile, committing to take concrete action to achieve equality for women and men in the labour force. Leaders vowed to take key steps—such as eliminating gender pay gaps, increasing the number of women in decision-making positions and eradicating sexual harassment in the workplace—to unleash huge benefits to businesses and to economies as a whole.

“We believe in the power of public-private partnerships to reduce inequalities, including gender inequality and its key role to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” said President Michelle Bachelet of Chile, opening the event today, a Government of Chile-UN Development Programme (UNDP) initiative, in partnership with the International Labour Organization (ILO) and UN Women.

The Vice President and Minister of Women’s Affairs of the Republic of the Gambia, Fatoumata Jallow-Tambajang said that “empowering women and providing equal opportunities for both women and men in the workforce is a key pillar of our National Development Plan, so from micro-financing, small and medium enterprises to the big companies these are crucial steps to reduce poverty, gender inequality, boost productivity and improve our economy as a whole.”

“Gender equality in the workplace is both a matter of women’s human rights and a smart step—for business and overall sustainable development gains; but there is no time to lose,” said UNDP’s Director for Regional hub for Latin America and the Caribbean, Richard Barathe.  “If the world to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 companies have a crucial responsibility to place gender equality as a central business pillar that can spark growth—that is inclusive, sustainable and leaves no one behind.”

Barathe stressed that equality for women in the labour force could add up to US$28 trillion to the global economy by 2025, according to a McKinsey Global Institute report. But the challenges are dire: fewer than half of women have paying jobs outside their homes, compared to 77 percent of men. Moreover, and women earn on average 23 percent less than their male peers. Women also carry a disproportionate burden of unpaid care work, which deprives them of opportunities to earn income, start businesses and participate in public life, while depriving economies of women’s talents and contributions.

One solution on the agenda is the UNDP-supported “Gender Equality Seal” programme, an  initiative that certifies companies that have eliminated pay gaps, increased the number of women in decision-making positions, and worked to end sexual harassment on the job. UNDP has been supporting partners in 17 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, Asia, Eurasia to certify public and private companies for meeting gender equality targets. Through the “Gender Seal” initiative, certified businesses have committed to eliminating gender pay gaps, boosting the number of women in decision-making positions, improving work-life balance, eradicating sexual harassment in the workplace and boosting the participation of women in non-traditional industries.

In Chile, Gender Seal certified state-owned copper mining company Codelco boosted mixed gender groups in this traditionally male-dominated industry, resulting in increased productivity. Similarly, Costa Rica’s National Bank increased women’s representation in decision-making positions through a leadership programme, enabling 70 women to assume managerial posts, while Canada’s Scotiabank identified potential employees for a Talent Pool offering mentorship programmes and improving women’s access to senior-level positions.

For a full list of details including panellists and participating companies visit https://businessforgenderequality.org

For more information

Government of Chile: Andrea Figueroa: afigueroa@sernam.gob.cl

UNDP | In Chile: Magdalena Provis, Magdalena.provis@undp.org and Sergio García Sergio.garcia@undp.org | In New York: Carolina Azevedo, Carolina.azevedo@undp.org (in Chile 26-28 February)


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