Business & human rights discussion needs to focus more on women's rights, says report

Author: Ama Marston, Marston Consulting, Published on:

"Women, Business and Human Rights: A background paper for the UN Working Group on Discrimination Against Women in Law and Practice", 7 Mar 2014 

There is growing awareness of the need to address women’s equal access to business leadership and entrepreneurship…However, a significant amount of discrimination remains...Among the greatest measures for addressing greater equality…are the introduction of quotas for women’s representation in leadership and decision-making…[and] efforts to improve access to credit and financial resources…[C]urrent business models…have…spurred a global search for cheap labour and…environments with lax regulation. This has disproportionately impacted women workers in the lower echelons and women in communities...Equality for women is first and foremost a matter of human rights…Women continue to face a number of legal and social barriers...The human rights violations that women face in the context of business activities combines…gender discrimination with…power imbalances between business actors and individual women…A number of factors have contributed to women’s human rights not being incorporated into business and human rights discussions to the extent needed. Firstly…discrimination against women remains…in laws and practice…[O]ne of the greatest stumbling blocks…is the concept of those actions being culturally relative and acceptable in the context within which they have taken place…[and] are therefore beyond the responsibility of the company’s reach or…that they do not constitute legitimate human rights violations...[Refers to Credit Suisse, Deloitte, Royal Bank of Scotland, Goldman Sachs, Yuri Enga Enterprise, Mann Deshi Mahila Sahakari Bank, IBM, Southeast Textiles S.A., General Electric, MAS Holdings, Victoria’s Secret, Gap, Nike, Adidas, Marks & Spencer, Mars, Mondelez, Nestle, ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Petroleum]

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Related companies: adidas Credit Suisse Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu ExxonMobil Gap General Electric Goldman Sachs IBM Limited Brands Marks & Spencer Mars MAS Holdings Mondelēz International Nestlé Nike Royal Bank of Scotland Victoria's Secret (part of Limited Brands)