“Driving Gender Equality: Forward Faster with UN Global Compact Network India”

In the intricate tapestry of societal progress, the pursuit of gender equality emerges as an iridescent thread interwoven through the fabric of our shared history and future aspirations. Since the ratification of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, the quest for gender parity has become enshrined in the collective conscience of humanity. Yet, this journey has been marked by both strides forward and regressions, revealing the complex narrative of our pursuit.

The inception of the UN Global Compact’s Forward Faster initiative on September 18, 2023, stands as a testament to our collective resolve to accelerate progress towards gender equality. On the same day, International Equal Pay Day, celebrated on 18 September, 2023 represents the longstanding efforts towards the achievement of equal pay for work of equal value. It further builds on the United Nations’ commitment to human rights and against all forms of discrimination, including discrimination against women and girls.

Two days later, on 20 September 2023, a group of women leaders gathered during the UN General Assembly in New York to discuss the challenges faced by women and girls around the world. These voices collectively highlight the systemic challenges and the imperative of investing in gender equality to achieve sustainable development. They emphasize the need to dismantle entrenched gender biases and create inclusive environments where women can thrive. This endeavor signifies a quantum leap in our endeavors to achieve gender parity and nurture inclusive environments on a global scale. By beckoning forth business leaders worldwide to undertake concrete action in pivotal areas such as gender equality, climate action, and finance & investment, this initiative underscores the pivotal role of the private sector in propelling progress across all Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

About a month later, I eagerly joined UNGCNI as discussions and commitments began to gain momentum. From the very start, I felt a surge of excitement as I took the lead in sparking discussions, rallying collective action, and amplifying voices across India. Gender equality isn’t just a cause to me – it’s a burning passion. Joining this initiative felt like answering a calling, a natural step toward making a real difference. It’s been an incredibly inspiring journey witnessing the unwavering dedication of individuals and organizations striving to create a more inclusive world. I’m immensely proud to play my part in this movement, fueling change and standing up for what I believe in.

Equal pay for equal work and representation of women at all management levels are integral to achieving Sustainable Development Goal 5 (SDG 5) on gender equality. Equal pay addresses discrimination against women in the workforce and fosters economic empowerment, directly contributing to Target 5.1 of ending all forms of discrimination. Similarly, women’s representation in management positions supports Target 5.5 by ensuring their full and effective participation in decision-making roles, both in the workplace and in broader societal contexts. These efforts not only promote gender equality but also contribute to reducing the burden of unpaid care work (Target 5.4) and challenging traditional gender roles, fostering more inclusive and equitable societies overall.

With targets honing in on equal representation and pay parity by 2030, collaborative endeavors are paramount in catalyzing substantive change and championing the cause of gender equality. Spearheaded by its regional arm, the UN Global Compact Network India (UNGCNI), the Forward Faster initiative is actively engaged in propelling meaningful efforts to elevate the significance of women’s representation across workplaces, marketplaces, and communities. Aligned with these objectives, the India Network is fervently focused on empowering companies to embrace decisive action, exhibit leadership, and transparently communicate their strides toward 2030 goals. With over 500 participating companies, the UNGCNI is unwaveringly committed to fostering accelerated action by embedding gender equality throughout all Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), marking a momentous initial stride in this trajectory.

Within just a year of its inception, 13 Indian companies have stepped up to commit to Gender Equality targets. While this number might seem modest considering the vast number of Indian companies in the LN India, it ignites the spark for a thrilling challenge ahead! We’ve got a long road to cover and time is ticking, but amidst this race against time, one thing is crystal clear: our commitment to taking real, tangible actions is absolutely crucial.

The Gender Equality initiative within Forward Faster epitomizes more than just ambitious ideals; it embodies the tangible realization of a world, where fairness and equity reign supreme. Picture, if you will, a workplace in 2030 where every individual, regardless of gender, is presented with an equal opportunity to ascend to leadership roles and receive fair compensation for their contributions.

Let’s propel the journey towards a gender-equal future. Join us in our endeavour today! For a deeper dive into how companies are catalysing change and championing gender equality, stay tuned for the forthcoming narrative, “Unveiling the Leaders of Forward Faster: Who, When, and How in Driving Gender Equality.