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Gender Equality

Gender equality is a fundamental human right. Yet despite progress, women and girls around the world do not fully experience equal rights and their potential as economic, social, and sustainable development change-agents remains untapped.

Women are underrepresented in power and decision-making roles. They receive unequal pay for equal work, and they continue to be targets of physical and sexual abuse. Additionally, women-owned enterprises are economically disadvantaged and lack equal opportunity to compete for business opportunities. Women also face legal and other barriers that affect their opportunities at work and as entrepreneurs.

Empowering women and girls help expand economic growth, promote social development, and establish more stable and just societies. Women’s economic empowerment benefits both women and children. It is pivotal to the health and social development of families, communities, and nations. Further, the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) underscore women’s empowerment as an important development objective, in and of itself, and highlight the relevance of gender equality to addressing a wide range of global challenges.

Companies that focus on women’s empowerment experience greater business success. Research shows investing in women and girls can lead to increases in productivity, organizational effectiveness, return on investment and higher consumer satisfaction.

See below some of the initiatives on Gender Equality that are available at a Local Network level:

Target Gender Equality is an accelerator programme that drives business success, sustainability, and contribution to Goal 5.5. Through facilitated performance analysis, capacity-building workshops, peer-to-peer learning and multi-stakeholder dialogue at the country level, Target Gender Equality calls for bold action in setting and reaching ambitious corporate targets for women’s representation and leadership. Target Gender Equality was launched in 2020 with a focus on increasing the representation of women at the Board and Executive Management levels.

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Programme Benefits

  • Confidently set ambitious and realistic corporate targets for gender equality demonstrating commitment and action to your employees, investors, and other stakeholders
  • Understand your current gender equality performance through the facilitated use of the Women’s Empowerment Principles Gender Gap Analysis Tool
  • Engage in accelerated learning opportunities specific to your country’s context
  • Build a network of peers, UN partners and experts to support your gender equality strategy and work collectively to tackle persistent barriers to gender equality
  • Showcase women leaders in your company who are driving business success, sustainability, and contributions to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

To learn more about the programme contact our Programme Coordinator, Sifiso Nkosi at:

The Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) are a set of Principles offering guidance to business on how to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment in the workplace, marketplace, and community. Established by UN Global Compact and UN Women, the WEPs are informed by international labour and human rights standards and grounded in the recognition that businesses have a stake in, and a responsibility for, gender equality and women’s empowerment.

WEPs are a primary vehicle for corporate delivery on gender equality dimensions of the 2030 agenda and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. By joining the WEPs community, the CEO signals commitment to this agenda at the highest levels of the company and to work collaboratively in multistakeholder networks to foster business practices that empower women. These include equal pay for work of equal value, gender-responsive supply chain practices and zero tolerance against sexual harassment in the workplace.

To learn more about the Women Empowerment Principles, please visit:

In celebration of International Women’s Day (IWD) on 8 March 2020, over 90 stock exchanges around the world join the United Nations Global Compact, International Finance Corporation (IFC), Sustainable Stock Exchanges initiative (SSE), United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), World Federation of Exchanges (WFE), and Women in ETFs in ringing their market opening or closing bells to draw attention to the critical role that business and markets can and must play in tackling gender inequalities.

By doing so, Local Networks can help raise awareness about the importance of gender equality in global markets, engage stock exchanges to recognize their own role in advancing gender equality and begin to build partnerships with key partners in the gender equality space

Working with exchanges and other partners to organize a bell ringing provides a great opportunity for Local Networks to both engage exchanges on their own role in advancing gender equality and raise awareness about the importance of women’s economic empowerment more broadly. In the past, Ring the Bell for Gender Equality events have led to long-term partnerships and further collaborations among partner organizations.

In March 2020, For the sixth consecutive year and as part of a global collaboration across 75 exchanges around the world, the Global Compact Network South Africa partnered with the Johannesburg Stock Exchange in ringing the bell for Gender Equality.

Accessing Guidance, Tools & Resources

For Companies

For companies that would like to intensify or begin a deliberate journey towards gender equality and inclusion, please visit our website link for more information:

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Begin your journey

We advise that you begin your journey by signing the WEPs CEO Commitment:

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Gender Gap Assessment:

Conduct a Gender Gap Assessment

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