UN Women launches Women's Empowerment Principles (WEPs) Implementation Guide

Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs), a collaborative effort between UN Women and Global Compact Turkey, provide a framework of 7 principles for the private sector to guide their work towards gender equality. An Implementation Guide has been prepared to offer guidance to businesses that have signed the WEPs and made a commitment to implement the principles. A meeting held to launch the Guide brought together company CEOs and representatives of civil society organizations as well as United Nations agencies.

Date: Wednesday, January 25, 2017

(Istanbul, 25 January 2017) – Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) Implementation Guide, prepared to offer guidance to private sector institutions in their work towards gender equality, was introduced to the representatives of the business community. During the launch event of the Implementation Guide, which was prepared as a result of a two-year multi-stakeholder and participatory work, company CEOs, civil society organizations and representatives of United Nations (UN) agencies came together. The meeting that was organized at SALT Galata with the support of UN Women and Garanti Bank started with an opening panel by UN representatives. The event further continued with a presentation to the business community by UN Women on the Implementation Guide which will offer guidance not only to enterprises in Turkey but also to businesses in other countries, followed by a panel participated by the CEOs of Eczacıbaşı Holding and Vodafone Turkey and the Executive Vice President of Garanti Bank. At the end of the event, all WEPs signatories who said “Equality Means Business!” were presented with a plaque.

Our motto for a more prosperous and powerful society is “Equality Means Business!”

According to OECD estimates, if male and female labor force participation converges, there will be a potential gain of 12% to the size of the total economy of OECD countries, which includes Turkey, by 2030. All sectors will have important responsibilities in achieving this growth.

Highlighting the responsibilities of the sectors, the moderator of the opening panel Mehmet Ali Çalışkan, who is the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Yaşama Dair Vakıf (YADA Foundation), said “By signing the WEPs, businesses have shown their commitment and will to implement these principles in their workplaces and impact areas. The Implementation Guide on the other hand, is going to guide the private sector to translate these commitments into concrete actions”.

The biggest obstacle to increasing women’s employment and women’s retention and advancement in work life is the home care work that women are expected to perform free of charge. Referring to gender-based discrimination and unpaid home labor in the speech, the UN Women Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia and Representative to Turkey Ingibjorg Gisladottir said: “The different types of discrimination that women face today manifest themselves in the form of “glass ceiling” or “gender-based wage gap”. WEPs Implementation Guide will be an important tool for the private sector to bring down gender-based discrimination and make a significant contribution to gender equality in Turkey.”

Emphasizing the responsibility of the private sector, Mustafa Seçkin, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Global Compact Turkey said the following during the panel: “For a more prosperous and powerful society, Women's Empowerment must be taken into account with all its dimensions. Politics, public sector, the business community and civil society leaders have crucial responsibilities. Every sector has to say "Equality Means Business".”

Stating that discrimination, which occurs as a result of the hegemony of the male-dominant system, is also prevalent in the business community, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Representative to Turkey and Country Director for Azerbaijan and Georgia Karl Kulessa said: “Prejudices against women prevent them from entering into work life. And when they do enter, the same prejudices prevent them from participating in decision-making, advancing in their careers and getting promoted. For that reason, the private sector plays a vital role in combatting discrimination against women. Acting with the awareness that development cannot be achieved without women, the UNFPA provides support to the private sector, as it does in other areas, in preventing discrimination against women.”

Joint action is a must for women’s economic empowerment

Taking the floor at the second panel, where different companies from the business community shared their practices towards gender equality, Eczacıbaşı Holding CEO Dr. Erdal Karamercan said: “Increasing women’s employment in business is vital not only for social development and economic growth but also for sustained business success.”

During the panel, the Executive Vice President of Garanti Bank Ebru Dildar Edin said “Being a signatory of WEPs since 2014, enabled us to have a holistic approach to our efforts in women-related matters and make them more visible. It is very important to get together in such platforms and share experience in order to unfold the most effective ways to empower women in society and economy.”

In his speech, Vodafone Turkey CEO Colman Deegan said: “Women account for half of the world's potential talent pipeline and, therefore, over time, a nation’s competitiveness deeply depends on whether and how it educates and utilizes this prospect. Through our Vodafone Women First program, we care [about] focusing on the economic implications of lack of parity between men and women. Diversity and inclusion is a key focus for our business and a priority for our senior leaders. Our female employee ratio is 42% whereas it is 23.2% across the industry.”

As the moderator of the panel, SUTEKS Group CEO and Business Spokesperson of WEPs Nur Ger closed the panel by saying: “Gender equality is such an important topic like climate change that no country can ignore today. Expanding Women’s Empowerment Principles, which give business community responsibility to sustain gender equality, will bring prosperity, growth, and development to our country. In short, "Equality means business".”

Plaques presented to all WEPs signatories who said “Equality Means Business!”

With more than 1200 signatories from around the world, the WEPs have 148 signatories from Turkey. Turkey is the second country in the world with the highest number of WEPs signatories. The launch event was concluded with the presentation of plaques to the WEPs signatory businesses that made a commitment to implement the Women’s Empowerment Principles in their companies and disseminate them in their impact area. To have access to an updated list of WEPs signatory businesses, please visit: http://www.weprinciples.org/Site/Companies/1

About Women Empowerment Principles (WEPs)

Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs), a collaborative effort between UN Women and UN Glo­bal Compact, invites the leaders of the business community to make an open commitment to the 7 principles to further develop corporate policies towards gender equality. By signing the WEPs Statement of Support, business leaders show their determination in including and implementing the Women’s Empowerment Principles at every point, from board rooms to workplaces, and from the value chain to the whole society. For more information, please visit: www.weprinciples.org.

The seven basic principles are as follows:

  1. Establish high-level corporate leadership for gender equality
  2. Treat all women and men fairly at work – respect and support human rights and non-discrimination
  3. Ensure the health, safety and well-being of all women and men workers
  4. Promote education, training and professional development for women
  5. Implement enterprise development, supply chain and marketing practices that empower women
  6. Promote equality through community initiatives and advocacy
  7. Measure and publicly report on progress to achieve gender equality

The guide is developed by UN Women Europe and Central Asia Regional Office and Yaşama Dair Vakıf (YADA Foundation) in close collaboration with the WEPs Implementation Guide Preparation Team and Executive Committee within the Women’s Empowerment Working Group including representatives from the private sector, civil society, academia, and UN Agencies. Members of the UN Global Compact Turkey Women’s Empowerment Working Group Executive Committee and WEPs Implementation Guide Preparation Team member include UNFPA, Turkish Confederation of Employer Associations (TİSK), Borusan Holding, Boyner Group, Garanti Bank, Koç Holding, SUTEKS Group, Turkcell, Unilever Turkey, Vodafone Turkey and Yeşim Textile.

About UN Women

UN Women is the UN organization dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. A global champion for women and girls, UN Women was established to accelerate progress on meeting their needs worldwide. UN Women supports UN Member States as they set global standards for achieving gender equality, and works with governments and civil society to design laws, policies, programmes and services needed to implement these standards. The UN Women Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia was established in Istanbul in 2014 and oversees 14 countries. For more information: www.unwomen.org

About UN Global Compact

Launched in 2000, the UN Global Compact is both a policy platform and a practical framework for companies that are committed to sustainability and responsible business practices. As a multi-stakeholder leadership initiative, it seeks to align business operations and strategies with ten universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labor, environment and anti-corruption and to catalyze actions in support of broader UN goals. With over 7000 signatories in more than 135 countries, it is the world’s largest voluntary corporate responsibility initiative. For more information: https://www.unglobalcompact.org/ and http://www.globalcompactturkiye.org/.