Joint session of the Philippine Legislature, Manila. November 15, Philippine legislature before Party control of the lower house.
Through such programs, corporate leaders aim to improve the quality of their supply chains, enhance their access to talent, and increase the productivity of their workforce.
Illustration by Stephanie Wunderlich Economic empowerment is, to be sure, a crucial aspect of any significant push to make women full and equal participants in their communities.
Strengthening the economic role of women is also critical to reducing poverty, improving health and education outcomes, and achieving other broad development goals.
How can they most effectively deploy the millions of dollars that they are spending to broaden opportunities for women? Instead, they must adopt approaches that take into account the social, cultural, legal, and political barriers to full gender equality—approaches that have the potential to shift gender norms in ways that extend beyond the world of work and business.
One way that they can do so, we believe, is to work with a group of nongovernmental organizations NGOs that corporations often overlook: Most GWOs operate in a single country or in a single region of a country, and their work typically involves one or more of the following activities: Recognizing the interconnectedness of issues related to gender equality, some corporations are now partnering with GWOs to extend the scope and enhance the impact of their economic empowerment programs.
Although GWOs can vary dramatically in size, those that are suitable partners for corporations tend to be relatively large and relatively well established.
By looking at a sample of successful corporate-GWO collaborations and by considering lessons that have emerged from those collaborations, we intend in this article to chart a path that corporate leaders and their NGO counterparts can follow to develop mutually beneficial partnerships.
As a result, that work tends to reflect a donor-recipient relationship that limits its effectiveness. Porter and Mark R. Kramer explain in the article that introduced that concept. To date, corporations have tended to pursue shared value strategies in the context of environmental sustainability.
But some companies, such as Unilever, have begun to see the empowerment of women as an equally important element of a sustainable business model.
When Unilever launched its Sustainable Living Plan inthe initial focus of the initiative was on reducing the environmental impact of its operations. But starting inthe company added several targets related to increasing opportunities for women to the plan.
Trusted community members GWOs have developed broad and deep networks in the communities where they operate and a high degree of trust among members of those communities. Strategic, culturally grounded players GWOs understand the cultural, social, political, and religious obstacles to creating change, and in many cases they have been working for years on strategies to lower those barriers.
Experienced navigators GWOs have extensive experience in steering their way through local and national politics and in securing the support of those who wield power.
Ancillary program providers GWOs have a deep appreciation of the multi-faceted issues that can affect the ability of women and girls to become full participants in society, and they often offer programs that address those issues—programs that cover skills development, violence prevention, education about legal rights, and access to maternal and reproductive health care, among other topics.
They operate within the cost structure of their home country, and they often effectively use local volunteers to supplement the work of paid staff members. Multinational Companies and Local Partners By partnering with GWOs in programs designed to create shared value, corporations increase the likelihood that their programs will be not only financially and operationally sustainable, but also transformative for women.
Through their work with GWO partners, corporate leaders are learning the value of listening to women in the communities where they operate. As the following examples illustrate, such corporate-GWO partnerships can take a wide range of forms. Infor example, the company began working with COPAZ, a women-run cocoa cooperative in the Ivory Coast that has about members.
Agathe Vanier, the head of COPAZ, had led a campaign to demonstrate that the inclusion of women in cocoa farming could have a positive impact on their families and on the country as a whole.
As part of this new effort, the company intends to pursue an impressive range of activities. Those contributions have helped AIL to achieve a big impact.
To date, the organization has provided health education to nearly 1.
One AIL program, for example, trains Afghan women to become midwives and health-care providers for infants and children. In recognition of that presence, the STAR program offers three years of support to women who operate such outlets.In Focus: UN Women at the 73rd General Assembly.
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