By Karen Morris
Board Member, The Global Sourcing Council; Chair, GSC Women’s Empowerment Committee
At the GSC, we have heard our community’s and readers’ opinion that issues pertaining to women’s empowerment deserve our heightened consideration and the exchange of informed and varied perspectives. This is why our Board has formed the GSC Women’s Empowerment Committee and devotes this issue to describing several important initiatives that empower and improve the conditions of women around the world.
What can an XY chromosome buy?
Well, it depends. A gene on the Y chromosome is a fluctuating currency. It depends where the lottery of gender is played out alongside the lottery of birthplace. Purchasing power may also be a question of whom. And it depends when, in times of economic strife or worse, violent conflict, the vulnerability of one gender is exacerbated. In 2014, nonetheless, chromosomes still buy boys a better chance. In the extreme, it’s the chance of life over death. Along the spectrum, it might be the chance of education, the greater odds of being safe and well, of enjoying independence and self-determination, of making it, in the current vernacular, to the C Suite.
Gender is not always the sole determinant of these things but we cannot say it is never so because too, too often it simply is.
The power that rules many, even most, things in our world
is not distributed equitably by gender, not even close.
The discomforting truth is that gender influences or stipulates boys’ and girls’ respective opportunities and choices. This is true to some degree everywhere and in much of the world to a staggering and sobering degree. Expressed statistically the range and extent of women’s and girls’ inequality are intellectually staggering. (See Table 1)
We ask how is this socially tolerable? Expressed as the narrative of individual women’s and girls’ experiences, the impact is visceral. We ask our conscience how is this morally tolerable?
Is this immediately relevant to global sourcing? By numbers alone, gender equity concerns half our world; our connected, interdependent world, so it’s irrefutably relevant to us all.
At the GSC, our council’s concern with sustainable, socially-conscious practices in sourcing inexorably directs our conversation towards themes such as education, access to economic participation and individual, institutional and commercial accountability. This conversation cannot and should not be dislocated from the sustainable future of one in two human beings on this earth and their human rights.
Our sourcing-oriented conversations, if we are to be purposeful, must be inclusive of a heterogeneous even heterodox mix of philosophies and perspectives. At the GSC, diversity is how we roll.
Our GSC members exchange vibrant and varied views on the politics and policy of sourcing; whatever our respective positions, our joint discourse weaves through a complex fabric of related themes: economics, politics, society and sustainability, equity and accountability, access and inclusion. When someone says the GSC is concerned with technology, they are right; if you ask of our interest in the evolution of how, where and by whom work gets accomplished, you cleave to our intent. Do we care about what human creativity, competition fairly practiced, innovation and creativity can cause? Yes, you joined the right conversation – a conversation that cannot claim legitimacy if it does not voice the rights and needs of women.
In this edition, we feature the following commendable enterprises that each illustrate innovative approaches to reducing gender inequities:
The Girl Effect: A program supported by the Nike Foundation in collaboration with other organizations that targets vulnerable adolescent girls in the developing world by using funding, awareness and volunteer work to address and uproot the stem of poverty and inequality.
Women on Wings: A Dutch organization co-founded in by Ellen Tacoma and Maria van der Heijden with the mission of creating one million jobs for the women in rural India.
The Tata Consulting Services – General Electric BPO Center in Saudi Arabia: The establishment of the world’s first business processing outsourcing center staffed entirely by and creating jobs for 3,000 women in Riyadh.
SEED: Founded by UNEP, UNDP and IUCN at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development which supports grassroots social and environmental entrepreneurship, in developing countries, so far predominantly in Africa, by means of its award scheme.
We invite all interested GSC members to lend their voice and vision to the critical theme of women’s empowerment and its social – economic – political interplay with global sourcing. Please contact me with your comments at: firstname.lastname@example.org.