Women Matter

As March 8 marks International Women’s Day, the United Nations has issued a call for the business world to commit to an agenda of women’s empowerment in the hopes of achieving gender equality. This initiative is part of UN Women’s larger goal of achieving full gender parity and economic participation by 2030.

Women’s Empowerment Principles are a set of principles for business offering guidance on how to empower women in the workplace, marketplace and community. They are the result of a collaboration between the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) and the United Nations Global Compact.

The Women’s Empowerment Principles are:
1. Establish high-level corporate leadership for gender equality
2. Treat all women and men fairly at work – respect and support human rights and nondiscrimination
3. Ensure the health, safety and well-being of all women and men workers
4. Promote education, training and professional development for women
5. Implement enterprise development, supply chain and marketing practices that empower women
6. Promote equality through community initiatives and advocacy
7. Measure and publicly report on progress to achieve gender equality

According to the recent report by the McKinsey Global Institute, women could add $12 trillion to global growth, if the global gender gap were to be closed.

A look at some of the highlights from McKinsey’s The Power of Parity Report

MGI has mapped 15 gender-equality indicators for 95 countries and finds that 40 of them have high or extremely high levels of gender inequality on at least half of the indicators. The indicators fall into four categories: equality in work, essential services and enablers of economic opportunity, legal protection and political voice, and physical security and autonomy.

– McKinsey consider a “full potential” scenario in which women participate in the economy identically to men and find that it would add up to $28 trillion, or 26 percent, to annual global GDP by 2025 compared with a business-as-usual scenario. This impact is roughly equivalent to the size of the combined Chinese and U.S. economies today.

– McKinsey analyzed an alternative “best in region” scenario in which all countries match the progress toward gender parity of the fastest-improving country in their region. This would add as much as $12 trillion in annual 2025 GDP, equivalent in size to the current GDP of Germany, Japan, and the United Kingdom combined, or twice the likely growth in global GDP contributed by female workers between 2014 and 2025 in a business-as-usual scenario.

– Both advanced and developing countries stand to gain. In 46 of the 95 countries analyzed, the best-in-region outcome could increase annual GDP by 2025 by more than 10 percent over the business-as-usual case, with the highest relative regional boost in India and Latin America.

– Six types of intervention are necessary to bridge the gender gap: financial incentives and support; technology and infrastructure; the creation of economic opportunity; capability building; advocacy and shaping attitudes; and laws, policies, and regulations.

Closing the global gender gap could give the world economy a substantial boost— according to this research, potentially doubling the growth in global GDP contributed by women in the next decade. However, unless gender equality in society is addressed, those large economic bene ts are unlikely to be realized. The rst challenge is to understand the gender inequality landscape in suf cient detail to be able to prioritize action. The next is to use that knowledge to engineer change.