The Women’s Empowerment Principles: Equality Means Business

Posted on December 6, 2013 by


I want to let you know about some of the great work that the UN is doing to advance women’s equity in the workplace and beyond, and about an amazing and dedicated woman who is helping to make our world a better place, one woman at a time!
Thanks to a recent U.N. initiative, businesses worldwide now have guidelines that spell out seven principles that create a gender equitable workplace environment. In just three years since its inception, 664 companies in 51 countries have signed “The 7 Women’s Empowerment Principles” (WEP). The WEP document offers standards about how to empower women in the workplace, marketplace and community. 
In March of this year, 5 companies from around the world received the inaugural WEPs Leadership Awards at the annual “Equity Means Business” event in New York City. Nominations are now being reviewed for 2014. Before I list the principles and tell you about the amazing Turkish woman we are supporting for a WEP award, here’s a brief background of how the award originated. 

Background

In 1995 I was privileged to travel to Beijing, China with representatives of 180 New York City-based women’s organizations. We were among 17,000 supporters of women’s rights who were in China for the United Nations’ Fourth World Conference on Women. I was the Acting Executive Director of the New York City Commission on the Status of Women (NYC CSW) at the time. The NYC CSW sponsored four workshops for the NGO Forum in Beijing on the subjects of outreach, education, domestic violence, and sexual harassment. The outcome of that conference was the “Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action,” a 132-page document detailing a commitment to women’s equity that was adopted by all 189 countries in attendance. One of the results of that declaration was the eventual establishment in 2010 of UN Women, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women.  http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/beijing/platform/



The 7 Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEP)

The Women’s Empowerment Principles (subtitled “Equality Means Business”) are the result of collaboration between the UN Women and the United Nations Global Compact. They are adapted from the Calvert Women’s Principles®. The development of the WEPs included an international multi-stakeholder consultation process, which began in March 2009 and culminated in their launch on International Women’s Day in March 2010. http://www.weprinciples.org/
1     Establish high-level corporate leadership for gender equality
2     Treat all women and men fairly at work –
        respect and support human rights and nondiscrimination
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


WEP Leadership Awards 

The WEP Leadership Awards salute business leaders for their exceptional championship of gender equality and support for the Women’s Empowerment Principles. Some weeks ago, my partners Tresa Eyres and Nebahat Nebahat Timur Tokgöz, and I were discussing the WEP Leadership Awards and one organization in particular came to mind: B-fit
B-fit is Turkey’s first chain of women-only gyms. It was founded in 2006 by Ms. Bedriye Hülya. B-fit does more than promote physical health. It is a women-owned and operated business that implements WEP principles and raises gender equality by: (1) promoting women’s entrepreneurship, (2) increasing women’s employment, (3) improving the health of women through exercise and education, and (4) providing a safe and supportive environment that increases women’s self-esteem and social well-being. 
B-fit’s 230 franchises and services are available to women of all ages and socio-economic levels in many geographic regions in Turkey. B-fit engages its franchisees and customers in developing social projects that benefit communities in the 48 cities, large and small, that it serves. We are incredibly impressed by B-fit’s mission and vision: 
B-fit’s mission is

  • To enable women at every age group and income level to develop the habit of engaging in sports activities as a way of helping them increase their physical and mental powers
  • To increase the power of women in their economic lives by promoting women’s entrepreneurship and creating employment for women
  • To motivate and enable women to create and engage in social activities and community projects and to increase their awareness about their own lives and environment

B-fit’s vision is

  • To create a platform where women can freely use their power to create a better world for themselves, their families, and their communities
  • To grow by giving women the opportunity to exercise and to learn and practice business, entrepreneurship, and life skills
  • To create a platform where women can become more aware of their own lives and environments and use their power to be equal with men
Ms. Hülya’s passion for helping women and her commitment to advancing equity are contagious! Upon learning about the WEP Awards, she enthusiastically signed the WEP CEO Statement of Support – bringing the total number of Turkish Corporations to 16.  [The total number of U.S. corporations that have signed is: 17.] One of the B-fit partners submitted the nomination of Ms. Hülya for a WEP award in the “Community Engagement” category.
We now eagerly await the judges’ decisions.
To learn more, please visit the WEP and B-fit websites!
Onward!
~ Wendy

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