On 30 November, the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights convened a multi-stakeholder consultation focusing on ways to incorporate a gender-lens in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs).
This consultation is the start of a project to create a guidance aligned with the UNGPs that reflect the particular experiences of women in global supply chains in exercising their rights. Stakeholders from business, civil society, UN bodies, national human rights institutions and government gathered to discuss the role of business and states in addressing the structural discrimination and barriers women face such as accessing effective remedies, fair remueration or decent working hours. These barriers can also have an impact on women beyond just the work environment and affect their ability to take care of their families.
Participants examined the impact of state and business principles, policies and practices on women’s rights and what steps can be taken to achieve a better gender lens integration. They drew a consensus that while laws and policies may exist on paper to protect the rights of women in the workplace, there are still critical challenges to successfully implement them.
FTA Stakeholder Engagement Coordinator, Naomi Potipa, represented the voice of business during the consultation, presenting a practical business case for empowering women at the workplace. The case demonstrates that an investment in women is directly correlated to a decrease in staff turnover and an increase in productivity and profit. Women’s empowerment along the supply chain has also proven to contribute to a reduction in female absenteeism, sexual harassment cases and occupational health and safety incidents and has also been linked to improving conditions regarding child labour and fair remuneration.
The BSCI Code of Conduct, System Manual and the commitment formula all contain elements to safeguard women’s rights in global supply chains. A stronger gender-lens is currently being included into the System Manual which is under revision and will be launched in 2018.