Women Impowerment

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Good morning, Excellencies, honoured guests, colleagues and friends, ladies and gentlemen. I would like to thank Deloitte and Mr. Georg Kell, Executive Director of the UN Global Compact Office, for hosting us today.

I am delighted to join you this morning as we kick off the 5th Annual Women’s Empowerment Principles Event: Equality Means Business. Each year, this event takes place during the celebrations of International Women’s Day, which is Friday.

During this time, women…and men…around the globe participate in events that honour women’s gifts and talents, our energy and experience, our strength and our spirit. And our continued struggle for full and complete human rights.

From Costa Rica to the Czech Republic, from Afghanistan to Australia, and from Germany to Great Britain, all around the world, women are gathering. They are hosting plays and poetry readings, blog contests and dance-a-thons, concerts and discussions. They are standing up for peace, walking for equality and running marathons for empowerment.

In Johannesburg this Friday, hundreds of drummers will meet on the Rissik Street Bridge to boldly proclaim their message: “The Only Thing You Should Beat is a Drum.” Passersby will be invited to drum their outrage and activism against violence toward women and children.

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We are doing great things…and we are not alone.

Just east of where we are meeting today, the United Nations, as part of the 57th Commission on the Status of Women, is conducting similar conversations about action to end violence against women.

I like to emphasize the word “action”, and I like to highlight the absolutely essential role of civil society organizations around the world that have taken action to drive violence against women to the very top of the agenda.

We have broken the silence. And we realize, at the last, that a violation of one person’s human rights, of women’s rights, is a violation for all.

So, more and more we —men and women— are coming together as partners to confront such violations. We work with governments, civil society and the private sector to redress the underlying biases and social norms that permit women and girls to be treated less well than men and boys.

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The individuals, organizations and businesses represented here and through the Women’s Empowerment Principles globally are also our valuable partners.

No longer do we have isolated parallel conversations about problems and solutions. Now we share and contribute to common platforms .One of these platforms is the Women’s Empowerment Principles, a partnership between UN Women and the UN Global Compact.

Using these seven principles, business, civil society and academia can confront stubborn issues of inequality and promote creative solutions, inclusion and systemic change.

(pause)

It is both exciting and encouraging to see that more than 500 CEOs have signed on to the Women’s Empowerment Principles, and this list continues to grow. And it is even more gratifying to learn about the concrete actions these companies are taking to promote gender equality, health and safety, and education and training for women in the workplace, in the marketplace and in the community.

So it is my pleasure to spotlight some of those good practices. They can teach, inspire and be replicated by others seeking to demonstrate their own commitment to the human rights and well-being of all.

(pause)
A global IT company based in India, for example, established a zero tolerance policy against sexual harassment in the workplace. If an incident does occur, there’s a “whistle blower” policy that protects sources and a committee that quickly reviews and acts on grievances.

Another technology company offers women’s self-defense classes on campus and special transportation, including a security guard if necessary, to make sure women reach home safely on days when they work late.

A power company in Brazil has created a shelter for...
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