Senior United Nations officials today emphasized that women will not be able to fully participate in their countries’ economic and political activities until gender equality is achieved, during an event focusing on how businesses can help empower women.
“Companies are taking on real challenges – such as addressing biases and stereotypes, and extending inclusion and diversity practices into the supply-chain,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said at the 5th Annual Women’s Empowerment Principles Event in New York.
“We must not rest until we end violence against women and ensure women’s full political and economic participation worldwide.”
The Principles, a roadmap of seven principles jointly created by the UN Global Compact and the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) for businesses, offers guidance on how to empower women in the workplace, marketplace and community.
Mr. Ban praised corporate leaders at the event and around the world who have publicly pledged to support the empowerment principles, and called on them to reach out to other business leaders to encourage them to support gender equality.
“They are demonstrating through action that empowering women is not only the right thing to do, but makes good economic sense,” Mr. Ban said.
UN Women Executive Director Michelle Bachelet highlighted the importance of addressing violence against women and achieving gender equality through different actors and platforms , including through governments, businesses and civil society organizations.
“No longer do we have isolated parallel conversations about problems and solutions. Now we share and contribute to common platforms,” Ms. Bachelet said. “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.”
Ms. Bachelet pointed to initiatives all over the world such as in India, Brazil and Kenya where different policies to protect women are being put into practice, from establishing a zero-tolerance policy against sexual harassment and providing self-defence classes, to providing on-site day care and private facilities to breastfeed.
These actions and policies, she said, demonstrate that fostering women’s inclusion and equality are also smart business decisions. “The world must continue to wake up and pay attention to the rights and opportunities for all human beings, girls and boys, men and women, to reach for the stars and live up to their potential.”
The event is one of many being held on the sidelines of the annual UN Commission on the Status of Women, whose two-week session is devoted to the elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women  and girls.