Women's Empowerment - Unfinished Business

February 29, 2012

Just last week I spoke at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Conference on Women and SportMy full remarks are posted hereWith this event and International Women’s Day less than a week away, I’ve been reflecting on the role of business in positively contributing to the current state of women around the world.  The short answer is that business has a good story to tell, but one that is incomplete, and where there is still a lot of progress to be made.

The roles of women are changing around the world.  Women are changing their minds about what they think they can do, and they are doing things that are having a profound effect on their societies.  They have never been more empowered and yet there is still work to be done. 

On March 8th, BCLC will co-host with the United Nations Office of Partnerships its third International Women’s Day forum at the United Nations.  This year’s forum, The Role of Business in Empowering Women, will highlight the work of businesses, NGOs, social entrepreneurs and multilateral agencies to empower women around the world through financial inclusion, transparent and inclusive supply chains and economic opportunities.  The forum will not only highlight stories of successful women’s empowerment ventures, but we will also take a thoughtful look at the barriers that remain for women, and identify areas of future collaboration between the sectors to accelerate sustainable solutions for poverty reduction for women and their communities. 

Business has been criticized from time-to-time for playing a disruptive role in society, but in the case of women’s empowerment, this is a good case of disruption.   A wide range of companies including Intel, Tupperware, Dow, Cargill, Goldman Sachs, American Express, Ernst & Young and Dermalogica are playing a role in this movement around the globe.  These aren’t easy issues to take on as they go to the heart of cultural mores and social patterns, so they have “handle with care” written all over them, but the challenges are certainly worth figuring out, and BCLC is proud to be a supporter of this initiative.