Intl. Women's Day 2016: Advances by companies & continuing challenges

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Article
8 March 2016

ASX 500 companies that employ more women make more profit, study shows

Author: Nassim Khadem, Sydney Morning Herald (Australia)

Top publicly listed companies that employ more women on their boards make more money, a new study shows, boosting the case for regulations that require big business to set policies to increase gender diversity.

The La Trobe Business School study... examined about 300 of Australia's top 500 listed companies between 2005 and 2011.

...[I]ts findings...represent further evidence of the positive impact increased board diversity is having on Australian companies' financial performance...

Workplace Gender Equality Agency data shows women accounted for 43 per cent of new appointments to ASX 200 boards in January 2016.

But the balance is still far from equal, because 12 per cent of the ASX 200 still do not have a woman on their board...
Since 2011, Australia's top companies have been benchmarking their practices against the ASX recommendations, and if they don't they have to disclose their reasons. The study found that this in itself had led to more women moving on to boards...

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Article
8 March 2016

How BSR Is Advancing Women’s Empowerment

Author: Aditi Mohapatra, BSR

Women make up more than 40 percent of the global workforce, the CEOs of 21 of the largest global companies are women, and more young adult women than men have college degrees. But still, globally, women earn 77 percent of what men do, represent less than 5 percent of CEOs at S&P 500 companies, and face job restrictions in 100 economies…

To advance women’s empowerment, BSR is committed to working with our member companies to mobilize their business assets and maximize their opportunities to advance women, to building partnerships with leading organizations to better understand the hurdles women face globally, and to investing in our own women employees.

Today, we are excited to share with you our growing portfolio of work on women’s empowerment in two areas: research and tools and collaborative efforts…

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Article
8 March 2016

Indonesia: Palm oil sector needs to empower women to address inequalities in land ownership, pay levels & health risks

Author: Tri Widjayanti, Jakarta Globe

"Commentary: Palm Oil Sector Inequality Proves Need to Empower Women", 8 Mar 2016

In Indonesia almost half of the agriculture sector’s workforce is comprised of women. However despite providing a backbone to one of the nation’s most economically important sectors, women in agriculture can be marginalized and often have little access to financial resources, knowledge and technology to improve their crop yields and in turn better their lives. On this International Women’s Day we should use the opportunity to recognize the important roles of women in agriculture and to consider the benefits that their empowerment brings…

Gender inequalities in palm oil plantations include land ownership and pay discrepancies. Women can be unpaid for fruit collection as their contribution is sometimes used to help meet their spouses’ production quotas rather than for personal profit. According to a study published by Center for International Forestry Research last year, landless indigenous women are among the most vulnerable due to fluctuating palm oil prices and increasing competition for work.

Women, and their children, also often bear the brunt of health hazards while working in the palm oil sector…

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Article
8 March 2016

International Women's Day: tax justice is a feminist issue, every day

Author: Liz Nelson, Tax Justice Network

On International Women's Day, let's remember that tax justice is a feminist issue – every day...In 2014 a new network emerged, Women for Tax Justice. In our Tax Justice Focus edition (April, 2015) on gender Mae Buenaventura quantified the gender impact of tax dodging by multinationals in Asia. She also reminded us of a 'weather changing' report in 2014 by Magdalena Sepúlveda Carmona, UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty, which highlighted the importance of adopting progressive tax policies to address poverty, inequality, discrimination...In that same edition Kathleen Lahey notes that'...the negative gender effects of all existing tax, spending, and other fiscal laws should be corrected as a matter of urgency.'...

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Article
8 March 2016

Low wages, unsafe conditions and harassment: fashion must do more to protect female workers

Author: Harpreet Kaur, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

... Garment-related global supply chains provide critical jobs and capital that help women workers to raise their standard of living and provide for their families. However, these women are also vulnerable in global value chains. Low wages, unsafe working conditions and flexible contracts are prevalent. This is exacerbated by entrenched gender discrimination in everyday life. So what should fashion brands be doing to make sure women are protected?

For women's rights to be respected, their voices have to be heard, but this rarely happens in a meaningful way - particularly because owners and managers are overwhelmingly men...

Brands can play an important role speaking out when governments clamp down on workers who attempt to organise and protest for improved conditions, as Adidas, Columbia, Gap, H&M, Levi Strauss and Puma did in Cambodia in 2014...

Living wages are critical for women as they often take a primary role in providing for the family. They also often receive less pay than their male counterparts...

Women...fleeing conflicts...are even more vulnerable...The pressure to feed their families often means they enter the informal economy where they lack the protections enjoyed by registered workers, leaving them vulnerable to sexual harassment, low wages and hazardous working conditions, with little or no recourse...

[Also refers to Primark]

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Article
8 March 2016

Thailand: Anti-mining activists among recipients of Women’s Human Rights Defenders Honorary Certificate; need for greater protection remains

Author: Fortify Rights

"Thailand: Human Rights Defenders Honored, Still Need Protection", 7 Mar 2016

Advocate, journalist, human trafficking survivors, and community activists receive prestigious award

Two women and two women-led organizations received a prestigious women’s human rights award…from the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand (NHRCT). Human rights defenders in Thailand remain at risk of abuse and reprisals, and the government should redouble protections, Fortify Rights said... 
 
The NHRCT awarded the 2016 Women’s Human Rights Defenders Honorary Certificate to Ms. Phinnapha Phrueksaphan, who has sought justice in the case of her disappeared husband, ethnic-Karen environmental activist Pholachi "Billy" Rakchongcharoen—last seen in April 2014 with officials of Kaeng Krachan National Park; Ms. Achara Ashayagachat, who has more than 20 years’ experience at the Bangkok Post, covering and exposing human rights abuses in Southeast Asia; the Ying Soo Cheewit (“Live Our Lives”) Group, a collective of Thai women who are survivors of human trafficking; and the women from Khon Rak Ban Kerd Group (KRBKG) in Loei Province, who have peacefully protested harmful mining practices in Thailand…

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Article
8 March 2016

The Time is Now and the Responsibility is Ours: 3 Imperatives to Achieve Gender Parity

Author: Rohini Anand, Sodexo

Around the world, women are increasing their contributions to social, economic, cultural and political development, but unfortunately, the progress towards gender parity significantly lags behind…

This International Women’s Day, let’s explore how we can contribute to fostering female equality world-wide…

  1. Women Must be Given Equal Rights to Men…
  2. Workplaces must Encourage & Support Female Leadership…
  3. Society must rid Itself of Bias and Discrimination towards the Female…

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Article
8 March 2016

Women’s Day: Time for atonement, not celebration

Author: Jérôme Chaplier, European Coalition for Corporate Justice, on EurActiv

...Oxfam estimates 27 million people are employed globally in around 2,000 Export Processing Zones, with women representing at least 50%, and in some places up to 90%, of employees. According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), labour conditions in these factories are often substandard, employees being denied their rights to association and collective bargaining...

While the companies operating Export Processing Zones in Central America, locally known as 'maquilas', are foreign, the majority of 'maquiladores' are local women. For most of them, gender-based discrimination is a daily struggle at work...

In Romania and Bulgaria, women produce goods for luxury EU brands for wages far below the line of decency, in terrible working conditions...

In all of these places, any and all initiatives to associate and demand better working conditions, decent pay and the basic respect of employees' human rights is met with swift (and at times violent) reprisals by management...

Business and human rights are fields where much more needs to change to make 8 March a day of celebration and not one of atonement...

Corporations should first right their wrongs before the women's day parade begins. Paying poverty wages, closing their eyes to what happens in their supply chains and ignoring the rights of indigenous communities is neither responsible nor sustainable...

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Article
7 March 2016

Greater Reporting Needed on Equality to Close the Gender Gap

Author: Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)

To coincide with International Women's Day on 8 March, GRI calls on organizations to help close the gender gap by increasing their reporting on gender equality.

“Although it feels like great strides have been made on gender equality on things like pay and women in leadership positions, the reality is that there is still a long way to go,” explains Alyson Slater, Director, Knowledge Unit, GRI...

Businesses have a crucial role to play in eliminating gender inequality. Establishing unbiased recruitment practices, investing in skills building and leadership training programs for women, expanding women-led business in supply chains, and providing benefits such as onsite childcare services and flexible hours…

[I]ncreasing numbers of investors today, particularly in the sustainable, responsible, and impact (SRI) investing field, are embracing ‘gender lens investing’…

Gender equality is deeply embedded in GRI Standards, and is covered in 16 indicators within the GRI G4 Guidelines…

To boost reporting on gender equality, GRI has developed capacity building workshops for companies…

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Article
7 March 2016

Tata Housing partners with SBI for Women's Day offer

Author: Press Trust of India, Business Standard

Real estate developer Tata Housing has partnered with the country's largest lender, State Bank of India, on the occasion of the International Women's Day. Tata Housing will allow its women customers to pay only 20 per cent of the agreement value while the balance can be paid on taking possession of the property, a company statement said here today. On its part, SBIwill be offering home loans to its women customers at a special interest rateof 9.5 per cent per annum under the SBI Her Ghar scheme as part of the International Women's Day, which will be celebrated between March 8 and March 13, it said. Moreover, the SBI has waived processing fees on the home loanunder the scheme, it added

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