Over 150 representatives from business, government, civil society, and academia gathered today for India’s premier business event on gender equality- ‘Equality Means Business: Women’s Empowerment Principles in Practice.” Organized by the Global Compact and Global Compact Network India, and driven by four strong supporters of the Women’s Empowerment Principles (BNP Paribas, Deloitte, HCL Technologies and Sodexo), the event highlighted the essential role that businesses can and must play to realize gender equality and achieve sustainable development. Guided by the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs), participants reflected on the persistent barriers to advancing gender equality, showcased promising solutions and approaches and highlighted how companies throughout India are scaling up diversity, inclusion and sustainability strategies to mitigate risks and maximise positive impact. The event also showcased how WEPs signatories can come together to inspire further gender equality action in India.
Speaking on the side-lines of the event, Dinesh K. Sarraf, President, Global Compact Network India, said that “more and more businesses are recognizing that gender equality is not just the right thing to do, but the smart thing to do. In order for businesses to differentiate from the rest of their peers, equal policies for men and women are essential. The WEPs provide a useful framework for companies to take a comprehensive approach to achieving gender equality in their workplaces, marketplaces and communities.”
Speaking at the event, Pooran Chandra Pandey, Executive Director of the Global Compact Network India said that “with the set to roll out a new set of goals in September 2015, signalling a new chapter for the “global partnership” for ensuring sustainable development, gender equality is being seen as a central theme for achieving these new goals and targets.”
Elaborating on the theme and initiative Lauren Gula, Senior Manager of Sustainability and Women’s Empowerment a Global Compact, who gave the opening remarks, stated that “The WEPs provide a read-made platform to engage business to do its part to advance Goal 5 of the Sustainable Development Goals, which is focused on the empowerment of women and girls, as well as a range of gender related targets across the 17 SDGs. In addition to gender equality being a sustainable development goal in its own rights, women’s empowerment is a critical enabler to achieving a wide range of development objectives and essential to propelling businesses’ operations and goals. “
Key speakers attending the event included: Ashok Kumar Pavadia, Adviser in the Inter State Council Secretariat, Ministry of Home Affairs, Dr. Nagesh Kumar, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP)’s South and South-West Asia Office, Rashmi Singh, Union Territory Civil Services and Former Executive Director, National Mission for Empowerment of Women (NMEW ), Ministry of Women & Child Development, Government of India, Joris Dierckx , CEO and Country Head, BNP Paribas India, Rishi Gour, Chief Operating Officer, Sodexo Food Solutions India Pvt, Prithvi Shergill, Chief Human Resources Officer, HCL Technologies.