By: JoDeen Urban, Editor In Chief, The Source
March is a momentous month during which women are celebrated around the world in various ways. Many countries observe “Women’s History Month”, “Women’s Empowerment Month” or “International Women’s Day” (recognized on March 8th by 27 countries). Rallies are held, seminars, symposia and special events attended, and men are asked to honor their mothers, wives, sisters, extended family members, girlfriends and colleagues.
This recognition is important. In one way, it reminds those who have “awareness” of the common human elements shared by the sexes. It also underscores that these days of celebration and activism should not be viewed similarly to “Mother’s Day”; that critical gaps in gender equity around the world still necessitates a calendar event to spur us to continue working towards removing barriers to equality. For those that are unaware or in opposition, it serves to bring to their consciousness that many within the global community continue to fight for the irrefutable rights of humane, fair and equal treatment of women.
Self-determination, and by extension gender equality and gender equity, is a basic human right. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UNDH) http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/ adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in December 1948 represents the first global expression of the inherently entitled rights of all human beings. This declaration and sister declarations and covenants led to the 1966 passage of the International Bill of Human Rights which is now part of international law. Yet, here we are in 2014 with much work still to be done.
“The fastest way to change society is to
mobilize the women of the world.” – Charles Habib Malik
Legendary statesman, philosopher, theologian and academic, Charles Malik, rose from Lebanon to global prominence as one of the drafters of the UNDH and served as President of the United Nations General Assembly in 1958-59, amongst multiple other esteemed positions. He stated what needed to be done simply and unequivocally: “The fastest way to change society is to mobilize the women of the world.”
Empowerment for all mankind is essential to our survival. Sustainability demands it. Women’s potential and continued contributions are as vital a component to the achievement of this as lifeblood.
In this issue we refer often to the United Nations Global Compact. Its vision of a sustainable and inclusive global economy is supported by defined, accountable ways to achieve lasting benefits for people, communities and markets. http://www.unglobalcompact.org/.
One of its initiatives has a direct impact on sourcing – The Women’s Empowerment Principles’ CEO Statement of Support. The Principles emphasize the business case for corporate action to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment and are informed by actual business practices and input gathered from across the globe. The CEO Statement encourages business leaders to use the seven Women’s Empowerment Principles as guide posts for actions that advance and empower women in the workplace, marketplace and community, and communicate progress through the use of sex-disaggregated data and other benchmarks. Signers underscore that equal treatment of women and men is not just the right thing to do – it is also good for business and needs to be a priority. To learn more or to sign a statement of support: http://www.unglobalcompact.org/issues/human_rights/equality_means_business.html
Critical thinking and critical mass will eventually change global empowerment dynamics and create universally equitable societies. One key is to stay the course and persevere. As Ayn Rand said: “The question isn’t who’s going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.”
Editor In Chief
JoDeen is an independent management consultant working with established companies as well as start-ups on strategy, organizational capability and business model innovation.