Mind The Gap: Conference on Gender Dimensions that keep women down

Such initiatives are a big ray of sunshine for the several minorities overlooked in this country. So many of us are privileged enough to receive education and cultivate knowledge, but not many get the chance to use it to shine in their careers.

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UN Women Pakistan recently conducted a three-day workshop called ‘Mind the Gap’. This conference was intended to promote gender equality and global corporate practices among the private sector of Pakistan, in line with Women Empowerment Principles (WEP).

It is believed that many women residing in Pakistan’s cities are unable to participate in the economic mainstream freely due to cultural and religious values. In fact, according to an IMF study “Pursuing Women’s Economic Empowerment”, Pakistan could boost its GDP by 30% by closing the gender gap and bringing more women into the economy.

During three days of the workshop, participants from Human Resources (HR) and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) departments were enlightened on “gender equality dynamics, diagnostics, and the way forward”, according to a UN Women Pakistan statement.

Ms. Asma Yousaf, Head HR Services, Unilever Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka, shared highlights of the White Paper that the Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OICCI) has presented for approval to the Government of Pakistan.

On this occasion, the Women Empowerment Principles (WEP) were introduced and thoroughly discussed by the workshop facilitator, Shahnaz Kapadia Rahat, CEO Mera Maan. WEP is an initiative of the UN Global Compact and UN Women and is the first global code of conduct for businesses on gender equality.

An overall twenty participating organizations presented their ‘Gender Responsive Action Plan – 2020’, on the last day. These included JS Bank, Nestle, Schneider Electrics, Soorty Enterprises, Pak Suzuki Motors, Engro Corp, EY Ford Rhodes, Bulleh Shah Packaging, PepsiCo, EFU General Insurance Ltd, Sindh Microfinance Bank, TPL Corp, ICAP, Novo Nordisk Pharma, Midas Safety, Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company, Arthur Lawrence, Gharo Solar Ltd, National Foods Ltd.

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The action plans were a basic summary of what measures the said corporations were ready to take in order to contour their policies in line with the WEP. The plans included implementing actions to recruit more persons with disabilities and transgenders; investing in developing women for leadership and CEO level management; gearing CSR practices so that it is more business-driven, sustainable, and able to support women; improving recruitment, retention, and growth through women-friendly policies, in particular establishing and improving daycare centers.

“Through an activity, participants also mapped their CSR and HR practices regarding contributions to creating women-friendly workplaces, responsive and diverse C-suite management, the inclusion of female entrepreneurs in procurement and supply chain, and gender-responsive HR policies and structure,” added the statement. In Pakistan, 66 private sector companies have signed as supporters and promoters of WEP, according to UN Women Pakistan.

The 7-principles provide a framework for the implementation of gender equality. In Pakistan, 66 private sector companies have signed as supporters and promoters of WEP. Through an activity, participants also mapped their CSR and HR practices regarding contributions to creating women-friendly workplaces, responsive and diverse C-suite management, the inclusion of female entrepreneurs in procurement and supply chain, and gender-responsive HR policies and structure.

Read more: Mindsets need to be altered to promote education for girls

Such initiatives are a big ray of sunshine for the several minorities overlooked in this country. So many of us are privileged enough to receive education and cultivate knowledge, but not many get the chance to use it to shine in their careers. The patriarchy and fascism prevalent in our nation is being spoken against more and more by the day. We hope to see folds of improvements, not only in company policies but also in the mindsets of people running them.

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