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The seven women's empowerment principles: Equality does mean business!

The 15th APEC Women Leaders Network (WLN), 19-21 September 2010 Tokyo, Japan

Have you ever heard Women Leaders Network (WLN)?
I attended for the first time the 15th APEC Women Leaders Network (WLN) in Tokyo, 19-21 September 2010, which conducted at Keio Plaza Hotel.

There were about 600 participants, speakers and including women Ministers from Taiwan and Japan. Most participants were coming from private sectors, few international organizations and some were from government (Ministry women). Total member countries are 21 within Asia and the Pacific regions.
From my country, we are ten persons altogether; where four of them were from private.

MDG no. 3 promotes women's empowerment and gender equality since 2000. Yet we haven't seen consistent and prominent efforts in national building for promoting gender equality in the workplace, marketplace and community.
The United Nations Development Fund for women (UNIFEM) and the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), in collaboration with ILO, BPW International and the San Fransisco Department on the status of women; have considered the important of a 'gender lens' in business within integrated corporate policies and networks of stakeholders to support the process within civil societies. The women's empowerment principles is launched to help companies tailor existing policies and practices to support women's empowerment.

It is noted that aspects of social, economic and political environment made the partnerships play important role that may inspire and intensify the efforts to bring women advancement in all levels of living.
For companies this is leading the way - putting principles into practices. What is the meaning to us?

As VOF ladies, using Web 2.0, we may watch, observe the progress and getting involved in creating tools and push forward the implementation. Good/best practices; initiative and creativity; as well as own experiences as the subject - not as an object which mostly reported by implementor.

We congratulate the progress - a landmark and framework to work more systematic within women leaders network.
Here are the seven principles - Equality means business.
1. Establish high-level corporate leadership for gender equality
2. Treat all women and men 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.

In reality, as heard from women rural's life, small women's business, struggling from the home, street and politic arena; these are not easy. We are facing culture, social stratification, lack of resources and political constraints.
In addition, it is noted, from most successful women in business - they made it because of the men's support, due to men's network; so that they become CEO, President, Director, Owner of Cafe, Politician and so on.
This is true; maybe due to all decision makers are mostly controlled by men. We need more women as decision- makers; however we are not even sure whether these women supporting women or the men they are followed.

Women in rural, adolescent girls - they might not knowing their rights; we as VOF ladies may help them to understand their rights to education, to speak up, to health, to development and so on. So many barriers, from external and also within internal women's network; the above successful women had chose men as their peer. What about us?
I think the best is working with men as partners - no need to put segmented principles; let's fight for our rights!

We know that in reality actually women have made a lot of products though in silence, and these could be some changes if we put it into system; thus we have to sound it more with voices, choices and forces!
Let's move it on - we have the umbrella; let's check it out whether we can make it together!




nilima's picture

thank you for sharing this

thank you for sharing this information , keep on posting:)

Dear Nilima,

I remember you are interested to know about Tokyo and APEC women leaders network.
When it is mentioned equality means business; I am thinking about gender stereotypes, marginalization, sub ordinance and discrimination where women in the position as most victims.

In the case of polyandri that being increased in India recently, due to women hold the control on the dowry system if they are richer; I think this is truly business. It seems the position of men is being turned down easily due to economic power. The issue: is it what we are fighting for as women? That is a win or loose; or shall it be in business a win win position born?

Do we treat gender equality as business like or this is part of the egalitarian ethos - for gender harmony where we promote the women's rights as integral part of the human's rights?

Further I reconsidered Max Weber a sociolog, his preposition on 3P - privilege, prestige and profits to maintain relationship. Thus I think the three Ps have a strong synergy - they must be together for the gender equality, not merely the profits in regular business.
I think there is also intangible profits not merely tangible when men looked from women as their partners; while higher economic women put mostly not profits when choosing their partners but privileges and prestiges. Women are noted very emotional about love and romantic. Though we know lower economic women mostly have no choice on this; due to they are selected by men. They are actually loosing their rights to voice, choice and own-force to do something. They are powerless, that's why we have to empower them.

To promote gender equality we may use economic empowerment to get profits and involved in the business; however I think those are intermediate process only and it is important to be accompanied by another two Ps - privilege and prestige where the real meaning of gender equality is reflected.

We understand there are differences between partnership, network and true business. In partnership we have common goals, transparency and equity; while in networking not necessarily having common goals or profits.
Gender equality is not supposed be a true business; otherwise we see more to polyandri, social stratification, symbolic violence and sadly those are entrance to gender-based violence. We need to avoid it.

I think the balance of these three Ps is needed to maintain gender harmony between spouses, partners, men and women. Gender equality may use business to empower women to support egalitarian ethos and achieve the gender equity in all living aspects. Thus, I agree gender and entrepreneurship is very important within dual income family to get family advancement for future investment.

Maybe we can say: Gender equality is a 3P business?
This is challenge to all gender activist!


nilima's picture

well that is the new issue

well that is the new issue that i have heard!!

thank you so much:)

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