‘Female CEOs, board chairpersons key allies in women’s economic empowerment’
As part of its commitment to expanding partnerships with the private sector, UN Women Nigeria Country Office hosted a high-level roundtable dialogue with top female CEOs and board chairpersons. It is aimed at exploring strategic alignment of UN Women’s and private sectors priorities towards attaining the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Nigeria.
The event which held in Lagos from July 5 and 6 2022 drew participants across various sectors, including banking, finance, fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), construction, oil and gas, media, and ICT. Amongst notable attendees include Publisher, Guardian Newspapers, Lady Maiden Alex-Ibru, Co-founder WIMBIZ and Founder/CEO The Chair Centre, Ibukun Awosika; Director-General & Chief Executive, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dr. Chinyere Almona, and Co-Founder WIMBIZ and Founder, DO.II Designs Ltd Ifeyinwa Ighodalo.
In 2010, UN Women and the United Nations Global Compact developed the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs), which offer guidance on women’s empowerment in the workplace, marketplace, and community. These principles emphasied the business case for corporate action to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment and are informed by real-life business practices and input from across the globe.
UN Women envisages the private sector’s strengths and comparative advantages in Nigeria as essential to realising the SDGs goals and the targets in its five-year Strategic Plan (2022-2025). In addition, UN Women’s global work with the private sector provides a blueprint for strengthening collaboration with the private sector in Nigeria.
Speaking at the event, UN Women Country Representative to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Ms. Beatrice Eyong said, “many companies are investing in SDG five by supporting women’s economic empowerment. To date, multi-national companies have collectively invested more than $300 million and launched programmes on employment and empowerment globally.
“The private sector produces goods and services crucial for attaining the SDGs, providing employment opportunities, and contributing to a country’s overall development. UN Women needs female heads of companies and businesses as allies to create a movement for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment within the private sector. We also encourage companies to sign up to the WEPs and create a network of companies to lead the economic revival, especially post COVID-19 pandemic.”
For co-founder, WIMBIZ Mrs. Ibukun Awosika, she stressed that the non-governmental organisation serves as a tool that helps build the diversity of our voices and the courage to challenge things, which is a strength that women bring to the table. “Women are playing in silos, we need to change this. The UN women need to be a voice from the global view and a local instigator. We must find a place for all of us to play even in
politics. ”We now have nine women as bank CEOs which is highly remarkable.”
On COVID-19 recovery and its impact on women, UN Secretary General’s policy brief highlights the social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on women across four areas – financial, health, unpaid care, and gender-based violence. Other factor like fragility, conflict, and emergencies where social cohesion is undermined, and limited institutional capacity and services, further amplify the impacts of the pandemic.
These negative economic impacts are most felt by women and girls who generally earn and save less and hold insecure jobs or live close to the poverty line.
During the deliberations, a linkage between the private sector and other previously left behind groups of women including women living with disabilities and women living in rural areas emerged.
Overall, UN Women’s purpose of convening female CEOs was to strengthen cooperation with the private sector and, more specifically seek alignment between UN Women’s strategic interventions and private sector activities across priority areas; raise awareness and advocate for adopting the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs), emphasizing the private sector’s role in achieving SDG 5 and Incentivize behavioural change for women in the corporate world by recognising private organisations as allies for women’s empowerment champions.