In honor of International Women’s Day, the Alliance prepared an animated eCard celebrating the growing economic power of women — as consumers, salary-earners, and job-creating entrepreneurs.
To measure progress in the economic advancement of women, the Economist Intelligence Unit in 2010 created the Women’s Economic Opportunity (WEO) Index.7. The Index aims to look beyond gender disparities to the underlying factors affecting women’s access to economic opportunity in the formal economy.
Click here to view the full report
Source: EIU website (March, 2012)
4th Annual Women’s Empowerment Principles Event: Gender Equality for Sustainable Business event brought together 200 stakeholders from various sectors to mark 2 years since the launch of the Women’s Empowerment Principles and discuss the relevance of the Principles within the context of sustainable development. The final report of the event will be circulated in April along with a link to panelist remarks and presentations.
The video link to the conference in its entirety (by session) can be accessed here: http://www.unglobalcompact.org/Issues/human_rights/equality_means_business.html
Source: PBW webste (March, 2012)
Leading companies are failing to capitalize on the talents of women in the workforce, according to the World Economic Forum’s Corporate Gender Gap Report 2010 released this month. It is the first study to cover the world’s largest employers in 20 countries and benchmark them against the gender equality policies that most companies should have in place but are in fact widely missing.
Click here to download the PDF
By David Zielenziger
President Barack Obama has the chance to change world economic development when he selects the next President of the World Bank, the outgrowth of World War II-era plans to use rich counties to spearhead economic growth.
By custom, the U.S. appoints the World Bank president while Europe designates the director of the companion International Monetary Fund. France’s Christine Lagarde replaced Dominique Strauss-Kahn last year, shortly after his arrest for alleged rape in New York. He was subsequently cleared.
Obama’s first choice for the job is no longer living: that would be Stanley Ann Dunham, whose pioneering work in anthropology, especially in how rural women created handicraft markets in Indonesia and developed rural economies, was later acknowledged to be groundbreaking.
Dunham, the president’s mother, died in 1995. Part of Obama’s childhood was spent in Indonesia as she pursued her doctoral work for the University of Hawaii.
Two other candidates were cited immediately: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, 64, who has no economics background, and former Treasury secretary Larry Summers, 57, a former Obama adviser, whose stupid remarks about women and science while he was president of Harvard University would likely disqualify him.
“Issues of intrinsic aptitude” mean there are fewer women than men in science, said Summers, a well-regarded economist and nephew of two Nobel laureates in economics. The remarks led to his Harvard resignation. Summers was succeeded by historiian Drew Gilpin Faust, Harvard’s first woman president.
Here are five more realistic candidates:
John Kerry. The Massachusetts senator who was the Democratic candidate for President against Bush in 2004, would be a good bet. Kerry, 68, has long wanted a seat on the global stage and now serves as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
A seat at the World Bank, though, would give Kerry a classy finish to his political career and move him into issues he cares about, such as health and development on a world level. He also would be instantly acceptable to other governments.
Christina Romer, 53, is a professor of economics at the University of California, Berkeley, where she returned following service as Chairperson of the Council of Economic Advisers in Obama’s first year.
Romer would be the first woman World Bank chief as well as the first academic. Most others, like Zoellick, Robert McNamara or Eugene Black, have come from government but with business backgrounds.
Joe Biden. The Vice President, 69, isn’t going to be President, so sending him to the World Bank could cap his career as well as give Obama the choice to pick a new running mate. While this would be a huge political shift, Biden, like Kerry, has had years of interest in foreign relations and headed the foreign relations committee in two periods under the second Bush.
Sending Biden to the World Bank might enhance the institution’s stature and conceivably shift its mission to 21st century goals. To be sure, Biden lacks executive ability, although as Vice President, he helped shepherd through tricky nuclear arms treaties with Russia and other matters.
Timothy F. Geithner. The Secretary of the Treasury, Geithner, 50, has spent virtually his entire life in government service, never working on Wall Street, including service at the U.S. embassy in Japan.
The Dartmouth graduate said last month he wouldn’t serve another term as treasury secretary but didn’t specify his future plans. The salary, $441,980 plus $284,500 in other benefits, is higher than his treasury pay.
Geithner, too, would need no introduction to other world leaders or members of the business community.
Michael Bloomberg. The New York mayor, 70, might eye this as a cap to his career after becoming a billionaire on Wall Street via his Bloomberg LP information company, then service as three-term Mayor of New York.
Bloomberg, whose term expires in 2013, has said he wants to spend his next period doing foundation work but presumably could be enticed to run the World Bank. A Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-independent, Bloomberg might be an appealing choice for Obama, although he’s hardly been known as having an interest in poverty and development, spending much of his political capital on education.
Bloomberg wouldn’t have to make public all his finances, either, because confirmation comes from the bank’s board of governors, not the U.S. Senate. Nelson A. Rockefeller, the former governor of New York, had to make public all his financial data when President Gerald Ford nominated him for Vice President in 1974.
Source: International Business Times website (Febuary 2012)
By Dr. Mona S. Almunajjed
Despite great strides in education and employment, a large gender gap remains in positions of status
Women in the GCC countries have not yet made it to the top. While their share of the workforce is increasing, it is still hard for them to reach senior positions, which are mostly held by men. Although this is a worldwide phenomenon, it is particularly striking in the Gulf region where leadership has been traditionally perceived in male terms. As a result, women in the region continue to be under-represented in decision-making positions in many fields and their progress has been slow.
Women’s lives in the GCC have improved tremendously during the past decades. They have become better educated and, according to United Nations data, the adult literacy rates for women have increased considerably, reaching 90 percent in Bahrain, 92 percent in Kuwait (2008), 81 percent in Oman (2008), 92 percent in Qatar (2009), 81 percent in Saudi Arabia (2009) and 91 percent in the UAE (2005). More educated women have joined the labor market and, in 2010, the percentage of female employment to population ratio (15+) reached its highest in Qatar with 50.5 percent, with Kuwait following at 42.3 percent, UAE at 37.5 percent, Bahrain at 31.4 percent, Oman at 23.6 percent and Saudi Arabia at 14.6 percent.
However, despite great strides in education and employment, a large gender gap remains in positions of status. Women may be as qualified as men but they seldom work in jobs with power and authority; they also experience considerable delay in attaining the higher levels of jobs and income.
United Nations data closest to year 2010 indicate that women’s share of key roles such as legislators, senior officials and managers reached 22 percent in Bahrain, 14 percent in Kuwait, 10 percent in the UAE, 8 percent in Saudi Arabia, and only 7 percent in Qatar. Most of these percentages compare unfavorably with other countries in Asia such as Malaysia (24 percent) and Indonesia (22 percent), and even more so with the USA (43 percent) and Europe (France 39 percent, Germany 38 percent, the UK 35 percent, Sweden and Spain 32 percent, and Switzerland 30 percent).
Why is the potential of professional women in the Gulf region still untapped? A number of cultural, organizational and personal challenges hamper women from reaching senior positions. We live in a patriarchal society where the social system is still based on the authority of men and women are discriminated against in the workplace. Men are still holding tight the reins to high-level positions and women are not encouraged to participate at the top of major public institutions and private companies.
Another reason is the division of domestic labor, with traditional gender norms and stereotypes still tending to confine the role of women to childbearing and rearing. Women are giving up their progression up the corporate ladder in order to raise their children. The general perception remains that women cannot dedicate their time around the clock to responsibilities other than their families.
A third reason relates to the type of education women receive and occupational discrimination, where traditional views on what constitute appropriate spheres for women’s employment reinforce their domestic role. Most young GCC women graduate in the fields of education and human and natural sciences, thus creating a gender imbalance in the labor market and key positions. Work labeled as “female” such as teaching and social services in the public sector offer better working conditions and a balance between jobs and family responsibilities.
So, how do women catch up with men in senior management positions? Nowadays, global corporate companies, conscious of the value of gender balance at all levels because it helps to boost their output, are more eager to hire and promote women. Research and evidence indicate that the appointment of women as top managers can positively improve the performance of a company as they bring different management styles, skills and experience to the corporate environment.
Women are positively recruited to senior management positions in companies in many European countries, in some cases through the use of gender quotas. Norway has introduced a legal quota requiring that at least 40 percent of board members of public companies be women. Spain and France have imposed a similar compulsory goal of 40 percent for female directors companies to be reached by 2015 in Spain and by 2017 in France. Companies will be dissolved if these quotas are not met. In Germany, companies are officially requested to increase the number of women on their boards and a national debate is taking place on the viability of quotas. As a result, 30 major German corporations are now seeking to increase the number of women in senior positions.
In Asia, the government of Indonesia has been encouraging women to move ahead in their careers. In 2004, the government set a policy that 30 percent of those holding decision-making positions in the civil service should be women. After considerable success, in 2011 the policy was extended to the corporate sector and companies have been given five years to meet the requirement. In other Asian countries, private companies are active in promoting the advancement of women’s careers and encouraging them to join business programs. A growing number of young women in China, Taiwan, Vietnam, and India are pursuing MBAs and enrolling in business programs to gain access to better jobs in banks and big firms in their countries. As a result, in India more women are now holding senior jobs in the information and communication technology (ICT) industry and in China the number of women holding senior management positions has been rising considerably.
Today, for the GCC countries to become a dynamic and competitive knowledge-based economy they need to recognize and value women’s talents and skills. I believe that as a first step on the road to equal employment opportunities the national educational system for girls should be revamped to respond to the demands and priorities of a modern dynamic society. Educational opportunities should be expanded to provide alternatives to the humanities and social services such as sciences, mathematics, business administration, and ICT, subjects that are key to innovation and competition in today’s world. Equal education opportunities would give both men and women the same capabilities and opportunities to perform. It is only through the empowerment of women and their autonomy in the social, economic, and political spheres that our society can attain healthy and sustainable development.
GCC governments are making serious efforts to enhance the participation of women in decision-making positions. The National Development Strategy of Qatar seeks to increase the number of women in leadership by 30 percent. It is establishing a women’s leadership center to build capacity and increase the number of women in political, organizational and business-related decision-making positions. In Saudi Arabia, policy makers are working to introduce reforms to the status of women, granting them a more active role in public life and in top leadership positions. In Bahrain, the National Strategy for the Empowerment of Bahraini Women seeks to achieve the full participation of women in the labor force and enable their access to leadership positions in both public and private sectors. In the UAE, the National Strategy for the Advancement of Women seeks to reinforce women’s active role in both the public and private sectors and to pave their way toward higher decision-making positions. In Oman, the National Strategy for Advancement of Omani Women promotes the full participation of women in economic and social development processes and seeks to expand their representation in higher positions.
As a result of these efforts, a number of women in the Gulf region have been appointed to senior positions traditionally dominated by men, including: in Bahrain, Fatima Al Beloushi, minister of human rights and Lulwa Al Awadhi, secretary-general of the Supreme Council for Women; in Kuwait, Mudhi Al Humoud, minister of education and higher education, Maha Al-Gunaim, chairman of Global Investment House of Kuwait; in Oman, Rawiyah bint Saud al Busaidiyah, minister of higher education, Assilah Zaher Al Harthy, head of corporate affairs, Oman Oil Company; in Qatar, Maha Mansour Al Thani, first female court judge, Sheikha Hanadi bint Nasser Al Thani, founder and chairperson of Amwal and Hessa Al Jaber, secretary- general of Supreme Council of Information and Communication Technology; in Saudi Arabia, Nora Al-Fayez, first vice education minister for girl’s education, Lubna Al Olayan, CEO of Olayan Financing Company and Nahed Taher, CEO of Gulf One Investment Bank; in the UAE, Sheikha Lubna al-Qassimi, minister of foreign trade, Fatima Al Jaber, CEO of Al Jaber Group and Hanan Al Tamimi, senior manager, tendering & engineering at Dubai Electricity and Water Authority.
In light of the success of quotas in Norway and Indonesia, I believe that the use of a quota system for a more gender-balanced professional environment may work in GCC countries provided that only women with the right qualifications and experience are selected for senior positions. But although quotas will put pressure for change on public institutions and business companies, they cannot offer the sole solution. Society also has to acknowledge that women can be as successful as men and can perform as effectively as men in senior positions. To achieve this, we need to raise awareness that women can contribute not only through their role as mothers but also as active agents in society and as successful future leaders, making a shift from the traditional view that labels women solely as housekeepers and child-raisers to a more progressive one that accepts women as breadwinners capable of holding decision-making positions. Motherhood should not be seen as a brake on women’s development. On the contrary, it is a most valuable role, which cannot be measured in financial terms. However, both parents have a responsibility for the upbringing of their children. We need also to establish childcare facilities and nurseries in workplaces to help working mothers in their career.
To develop workingwomen’s skills in decision-making and leadership and help them realize their full potential, we need to provide training, career development initiatives, mentoring programs, and networking opportunities. We also need to initiate gender mainstreaming policies and mechanisms in companies and major public occupations to allow women to join equally in the social, economic and political life of the country. Governments, civil societies including nongovernmental organizations and the private sector should work hard to promote women and guarantee gender balance in senior positions.
Today, professional women in the Gulf region are ready to face the challenges of leadership; their expectations are rising and they are demanding more gender reform and change in society. It is important to empower them with both family and government support, and to recognize their exceptional skills, clear vision and hard work.
- Dr. Mona AlMunajjed is a sociologist, author and adviser on women and gender issues.
Mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: Arab News website (January 2012)
By Jane Martison
Despite a quota system to boost female participitation, the gender imbalance is still heavily skewed towards men.
If you attended the opening address by Angela Merkel or the private dinner in which Nobel laureate Leymah Gbowee held a group of financiers in thrall with her life story, you might think that fabulous, powerful women dominate Davos. But the fact is, Davos has a woman problem.
The first day, which included honours for the Japanese violinist Midori and a screening of the biopic of Aung San Suu Kyi, may have ended with a party to “honour women innovators” such as the web entrepreneur Arianna Huffington. with guests departing into the snowy darkness of Davos to the rousing sounds of the 1980s disco classic Ladies’ Night. And the biggest day of this year’s World Economic Forum (WEF) on Friday may include a main room event discussing “women as the way forward”.
But while the impact of women this year may be bigger than ever, organisers keen to encourage and then trumpet their success cannot hide the fact that their numbers are still small.
Despite a new quota system demanding that the largest members send one woman for every four men, just 17% of the 2,500 delegates are female. Despite a push to encourage more women on to panels to discuss the issues of the day, just 20% of those invited to do so are women. The majority of panels, especially on key economic topics, are still dominated by (white) men.
Although the days are long gone when one female delegate was asked to leave an event because security assumed she must be a spouse without the required permit, the majority of the women in Davos are not there as participants. Only newcomers to Davos seem to consider this fact remarkable, with the odd feminist exception such as Helen Clark. The former prime minister of New Zealand turned administrator of the United Nations Development Programme called the female participation rate “pathetic”. The leader who appointed so many senior women to her cabinet that Benetton ran an airport advertising campaign welcoming visitors to the “women’s republic of New Zealand” called for organisers to commit to the millennium development goal of 30% female participation by 2015. “Or why not next year? They should just go and look for the women. In one stroke, participation would go up.”
There is little support for such intervention among organisers, who argue that Davos merely reflects a world in which women lead just 3% of the biggest companies in the US and UK and make up 17% of its parliaments. Saadia Zahidi, the WEF’s head of constituents who is spearheading the gender programme, calls this the “external glass ceiling” about which an annual meeting of top people can do nothing.
Roger Carr, the chairman of Centrica who is leading efforts to get more women appointed to British boards, agrees. “Davos is a special place populated by the most senior decision makers. The fact is that the number of women in that position is quite small. Davos is just the symptom of something that happened way, way back.” Centrica sends just two delegates and both the chief executive and chairman happen to be men.
With the cost of the meeting astronomical – delegates have to pay for five nights’ stay as a minimum – not to mention the annual membership fees of about £100,000 for the strategic partners subject to the quota, many companies are happy to talk the talk while hoping that others do the walking.
So why even bother to set a quota? Why not simply accept the status quo at an event which sums up a world governed by just 1% of its population? Is the whole gender parity programme part of a cynical PR exercise to encourage a belief that the most powerful people in the world care about half the world’s population?
There are two answers to this from within Davos. The first, that it is not a numbers exercise but good business, is summed up by Carr when he says: “This is nothing to do with PR. It’s just good business. I’ve sat on single gender boards and mixed ones and the latter improves the dynamics of the meetings and ultimately the decision making itself.”
This view is echoed by WEF founder Klaus Schwab, who says: “A world where women make up less than 20% of the global decision makers is a world that is missing a huge opportunity for growth and ignoring an untapped reservoir of potential.” The more popular sessions dealing with gender tended to be those discussing this “diversity dividend” or whether “decision making is better when there’s a diverse set of people making the decisions”.
This idea plays into one theme of this year’s Davos: that as the current economic and political crisis was made by men, the inclusion of more women can only help matters. Desmond Tutu, the former archbishop of Cape Town, brought a cheer to proceedings when he said: “What we need is a revolution led by women. I think women ought to be saying to us men: ‘You have made a mess, just get out and let us in’.”
Even Christine Lagarde said before becoming the head of the IMF, an institution criticised for its own role in the financial crisis, that the world might be a different place if there had been a bank called “Lehman Sisters”.
But there is also a wider political agenda which fits into the idea that diversity will help close the gap between the 1% and the 99% they govern. The charismatic chief operating officer of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg, captured this in introducing Gbowee on Wednesday night when she said: “If the central moral imperative of the 19th century was slavery and of the 20th, totalitarianism, the central moral imperative of our time is the equality of girls and women around the world.”
There is evidence that investing in girls and women in developing countries does have a dramatic impact on the economy. Cherie Blair, who set up a foundation for women, says the issue is the most important one on the Davos agenda: “I don’t think the people who go to Davos deny that this is a major issue … They read the same reports about the value of investing in women in terms of education and employment as I do.”
Various studies suggest greater involvement by the poorest and the wealthiest women could help the global economy. The World Food Programme has found that girls and women reinvest 90% of each dollar in their families by buying food, books and medicine, for example. For men, that figure is more like 30% to 40%.
So, if participation at the most senior levels is to be encouraged, what is being done about it? A private breakfast of the forum’s female leaders and gender parity board on Wednesday discussed a document due to be published in March which will set out best practices to achieve greater diversity. These include a focus on measurement and audit, mentoring and sponsorship and a change to the way home and work life is shared. None of these are mandatory although an appearance by Viviane Reding, who is considering the introduction of quotas across the eurozone, is keenly anticipated on Friday.
Advocates of change insist that most effort should be directed at the middle management level, the point at which most women fall by the wayside, victims of either family-unfriendly policies or the failure to network for the top jobs. The forum’s effort to help involves an outfit called the Young Global Leaders, a network of about 1,000 people who are picked for greatness before the age of 40. Of these, 42% of these are women, while the newly formed Global Shapers of over-achievers under 30 are split 50/50.
The big question is, how many of these graduate to actually run companies or countries? WEF doesn’t give out these figures.
However, its efforts to become more inclusive does seem to have led to a marked cultural shift. Anuradha Vittachi, who has been attending Davos for years as founder of the OneWorld development group, says: “The panel used to look at the brown female wearing a sari with her hand up and point to someone else in the audience to ask a question.” That is no longer the case, she acknowledges.
Blair says: “If the world doesn’t start giving a proper platform for women, then it will fall flat on its face.”
Clark agrees. Asked whether leaders are paying lip service to gender equality as they battle to put out the global economic fires, she says: “Maybe, but we can’t let them off the hook. We just have to keep on keeping on.”
Source: The Guardian website (January 2012)