By Haruna Gimba
The business and philanthropy leaders have gathered in a high-level event organized by UN Women in the context of the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly, to scale up engagement in innovative initiatives for women’s empowerment.
Co-Chair and Trustee of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Melinda Gates; Executive Chair of the Alibaba Group, Jack Ma, and President of the Chaudhary Group and the Foundation, Nirvana Chaudhary, and Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, converged for a strategic conversation on how collective action can scale-up opportunities for women and girls.
The dialogue among a select group of business and foundation leaders focused on the transformative role that companies and foundations can play to support the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals, including Goal 5 on gender equality.
It highlighted new initiatives, such as the Unstereotype Alliance convened by UN Women with major advertisers and communications industry leaders to promote a more realistic and aspirational portrayal of women; the “Making Every Woman and Girl Count” initiative to generate, prioritize and use gender data for evidence-based and targeted policies; and the Global Innovation Coalition for Change aiming to make innovation work for women’s empowerment.
Participants at the event agreed that gender equality is a force to enable and accelerate achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and that empowering women is central to addressing the 21st century’s global challenges such as poverty, inequality, and violence. Yet, deep financing gaps for women and girls pose significant barriers and deter progress.
“We are very clear that the private and philanthropic sectors are essential partners for our work as we move forward with implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Their support is fundamental to UN Women endeavours, including building the Women’s Empowerment Principles, calling for and leading the investment in gender data analysis, eliminating gender stereotypes in advertising, and boosting ways in which innovation and technology can work better for women and girls,” said Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Women Executive Director.
“This is everyone’s business, and I call on both current and potential partners to join this movement to drive the transformative changes needed,” she added.
Financial commitments made at the event will support UN Women’s efforts towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals by expanding women’s economic opportunities, promoting innovation,
developing effective gender data metrics, addressing regressive norms and stereotypes and improving safety for women and girls globally.
“We have learned from our partners that if we don’t look at the gender piece of our work, we will never achieve our goals and lift people up,” said Melinda Gates.
“We have a lot of anecdotal evidence about women in terms of their lives and livelihoods, and now, we are finally doing the research and gathering data to inform policies and programmes. Gender matters. If we are serious about achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, we have to invest in gender data. It is at the heart of what we do.”
“The importance of women and girl child equality and livelihood is ever more important in this world. Chaudhary Foundation has 40 plus initiatives addressing the 17 Sustainable Development Goals with focus on women and children at its centre-stage. We are excited about embarking in to gender data work in Nepal in partnership with UN Women,” shared Nirvana Chaudhary, Chair of Chaudhary Group Foundation.
Global business and philanthropy leaders pledging support to deliver on gender equality at today’s event included: Melinda Gates, Co-Chair and Trustee of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Jack Ma, Executive Chair of the Alibaba Group; Nirvana Chaudhary, Chair President of the Chaudhary Group and Chair of the Foundation; Her Royal Highness Princess Lamia Bint Majed Al Saud, Secretary-General of Alwaleed Philanthropies.
Other are; Carolyn Tastad, Group President of Procter & Gamble North America; Wang Guangfa, Chairman of the Board and President of Beijing Fazheng Group; Andrea d’Avack, President of Chanel Foundation; Keith Weed, Unilever Chief Marketing and Communications Officer; Deepak Premnarayen, Executive Chairman and founder of ICS Group; José Caetano, People Management Director of Banco Di Brazil; Kofi Appenberg, Chair of the Ford Foundation Board of Trustees; Anka Wittenberg, SAP Diversity & Inclusion Officer; and Elfrun von Koeller, Partner and Managing Director at The Boston Consulting Group; among others.
The Unstereotype Alliance and the Global Innovation Coalition for Change were represented by companies such as Alibaba, ANA, AT&T, Citi, Facebook, General Electric, Google, IPG, Mars, Microsoft, Publicis, P&G, SAP and Unilever.