For today's International Women's Day 2022, Elisabeth Ann Resch from the UN Global Compact discusses the importance of making gender equality everyone’s business, not only on International Women’s Day, but all year long.
Today is International Women’s Day and with it comes the high-level stocktaking at the annual Commission on the Status of Women.
Since the start of the pandemic, things have clearly been different. We have not been able to go to stock exchanges and physically ring the bell to mark the important role of the financial sector to drive gender equality. We have not been able to take these issues to the streets and march for our rights together with fellow women from our communities. And most importantly – we have not been able to celebrate with family members, friends and dear ones lost due to the pandemic. So what can we do?
We can raise our voices to acknowledge the heightened urgency to act as COVID-19 has illuminated the systemic barriers and entrenched gender norms that must be overcome. We can gather virtually and share solutions together with colleagues that in other circumstances wouldn’t have the time or resources to travel to New York and share their thoughts at high-level events at UN Headquarters. And we can find creative ways to recognize fellow women that inspire us to push boundaries and motivate us in our daily struggles.
What’s clear is that the talents, perspectives and leadership of all women are required to solve the world’s biggest challenges — from tackling climate change to rebuilding the economy after the pandemic. Women’s representation and leadership can’t just be discussed in March, but most be prioritized every day, all year long, until true gender balance is reached and inclusive decision-making becomes the norm.
In the past two years, through the Target Gender Equality initiative we supported over 800 companies – from MNCs to SMEs – to set and meet ambitious targets for women’s representation and leadership. The initiative has been implemented by Global Compact Local Networks across all regions.
This year, we are again increasing the geographic scale with Target Gender Equality being implemented in over 50 countries, including Switzerland and Liechtenstein. Key for success is the ability to provide room for unpacking issues of local importance as many global challenges require local solutions. We hope you will be able to join us virtually at TARGET GENDER EQUALITY LIVE on March 15 to share your solutions and be inspired by the plans and actions of your Target Gender Equality peers.
We know that identifying an ambitious but realistic target for your company’s context takes time and depends on many internal and external factors. It is encouraging to see that more than 90% of Target Gender Equality participants either have targets for gender equality in place, are adapting existing targets or drafting new targets. Close to 70% of participants reported to have put in place KPIs in order to track progress towards the company's objectives to advance gender equality. Of equal importance, participating companies have committed to hundreds of actions and interventions enabling them to meet their targets. From launching a childcare facility, to tying leadership statistics to new loans, to preparing their female workforce for board positions.
What we have learned is that to make gender equality everyone’s business, we need men to not shy away from these discussions. We need all men to speak up and help their colleagues understand that to be a true sustainability leader you have to champion equality in all its forms. Encourage your male colleagues, team members and supervisors to join us in March to unpack these issues of crucial importance as a first step to recognizing and implementing gender-sensitive practices – not only on International Women’s Day but all year long. We simply cannot wait for 268 years to close the economic gender gap.
Elisabeth Anna Resch forms part of the United Nations Global Compact. Elisabeth previously managed workstreams on human rights and decent work, and is now driving implementation of impact-oriented initiatives with Global Compact Local Networks around the world. Currently, Elisabeth is focused on the global rollout of “Target Gender Equality” - an initiative encouraging corporate target setting for women’s representation and leadership in over 40 countries. Elisabeth was able to be a part of the SDG adoption in 2015 while working at the Executive Office of the Secretary General with Amina Mohammed, then led the development of a new SDG strategy within the Global Compact Network Canada, and gained experience at the World Bank and Global Citizen. In 2021, Elisabeth was recognized for her sustainability leadership as 30 under 30 honoree by GreenBiz. Elisabeth is admitted to the New York State Bar, fluent in German, English and Spanish and is currently learning Swahili. She is based in Santiago, Chile.