The Women’s Empowerment Principles: Bringing gender equality into the corporate sustainability framework at Rio+20


On 18 June in Rio de Janiero, three related events organized jointly by UN Women and the UN Global Compact will bring prominent business leaders together with government officials, civil society actors and UN Women's Executive and Deputy Executive Directors, Michelle Bachelet and Ms. Lakshmi Puri, at the Corporate Sustainability Forum (CSF).

The meetings, as part of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) will highlight the ways in which businesses can maximize their contribution to sustainable development by placing women at the heart of all corporate sustainability efforts.

Using the Women's Empowerment Principles as a guide, the sessions will highlight for the Forum the “gender dividend that results from fully integrating women into all facets of business and society. “The Women's Empowerment Principles—Equality Means Business is a partnership initiative of UN Women and the UN Global Compact, and was launched in March 2010.

At the “Women and Sustainable Development: Role of Business luncheon for high level business leaders, Ms. Bachelet, in her keynote address, will call on business to get involved with the Principles, focus on implementation and report publicly to stakeholders.

Later in the day, at a session on “Gender Equality for Sustainability, UN Women Executive Director will emphasize that gender equality and the empowerment of women are integral to achieving the three key Rio+20 sustainable development pillars: the social, economic and environmental. Moderated by Ms. Monika Weber-Farr of the International Finance Corporation (a member of the World Bank Group), it will explore current good practices and concrete steps to empower women at the workplace, marketplace and community, and how these must be scaled up for impact. The Principles will provide an actionable blueprint for results.

Meanwhile a third Rio+20 session, “Local Opportunities to Turn Principles into Progress will delve into replicable good practices and pilot implementation projects that have increased women's leadership in business, such as open supply chain procurement and women entrepreneurship. It will also address practices to improve workplace conditions, and will address violence and sexual harassment.

The WEPs Statement of Support has already been signed by more than 425 CEOs from around the world and national stakeholder groups have formed in Brazil, Serbia, Iceland, Japan, Australia, South Africa among many other countries. Find out more at

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