How can business most effectively support women’s economic empowerment, through their value chains and beyond?


(Alex MacGillivray) #181

i haven't seen anything like this.

Polly Le Grand said:

We know that women's burden of unpaid care work is a critical factor in economic empowerment. Does anyone have any good examples of advertising that promotes the role that men can play in care work?


(Gerry Boyle) #182

Hester - ever since I did research into flowers in Kenya I have been really surprised that businesses don;t do more on childcare - which they can do for nil cost since parents are paying for it already, but business-organised childcare can be higher quality and more convenient - this one should be an easy win for the HLP!

Hester le Roux said:

The DFID survey that we ran as part of this Challenge found that quarter of respondents thought there were barriers preventing women from entering their organisation as employees; half saw obstacles in the way of women staying in work; and almost 85% thought women were being held back from progressing to higher levels.

The top 3 reasons standing in the way of women entering work, staying at work and progressing to higher levels were named by survey respondents as

  1. lack of opportunities for flexible working;

  2. lack of affordable, quality childcare; and

  3. lack of support for other family or personal responsibility

(Hester le Roux) #183

I agree - and it is an issue that has come up in several of the HLP-related discussions I have been involved in.

Gerry Boyle said:

Hester - ever since I did research into flowers in Kenya I have been really surprised that businesses don;t do more on childcare - which they can do for nil cost since parents are paying for it already, but business-organised childcare can be higher quality and more convenient - this one should be an easy win for the HLP!

Hester le Roux said:

The DFID survey that we ran as part of this Challenge found that quarter of respondents thought there were barriers preventing women from entering their organisation as employees; half saw obstacles in the way of women staying in work; and almost 85% thought women were being held back from progressing to higher levels.

The top 3 reasons standing in the way of women entering work, staying at work and progressing to higher levels were named by survey respondents as

  1. lack of opportunities for flexible working;

  2. lack of affordable, quality childcare; and

  3. lack of support for other family or personal responsibility

(Gerry Boyle) #184

On Q4 and systemic change, we know that as well as economic or technical challenges, issues such as lack of healthcare or education, social norms and practices, status and gender discrimination can prevent poor people from participating in value chains. Enabling poor people to successfully participate in value chains requires a systemic approach that addresses the range of obstacles holding them back. By making poor people’s participation more effective and sustainable, this systemic approach will strengthen the value chain as a whole, to the benefit of all participants throughout the value chain. For instance, women’s access to finance is a key area where regulatory and social norms play important roles in restricting women. Current models of change in the value chain e.g. of having a lead company, often don't go far enough in bringing together the very wide range of stakeholders needed to make the change. Donor and NGO led market systems approaches are probably better at this, but tend not to be doing the work across the global value chains that Stephanie Barrientos highlighted earlier.


(Shruthi Jayaram) #185

Agree this is highly context-specific but companies can engage in different ways to combat systemic gender imbalances for example, through advertising as we discussed earlier, sharing best practices publicly and partnering with the development community to increase adoption of best practices, using CSR as a lever to fund women's empowerment, etc. Would love to hear if anyone has examples of any of these, especially on the partnering on best practices bit


(Benjamin Zeitlyn) #186

I think a key systemic issue is discriminatory legislation - and this seems to be an area where businesses and civil society can find common cause. Legislation that discriminates against women has got to be bad for business as well as bad for women - the World Bank's Women, Business and the Law Survey provides useful analysis and examples: http://wbl.worldbank.org/


(Hester le Roux) #187

Can I also just remind people to have a look at some of the points made under question 4 in the earlier session - you can jump back here


(georgie) #188

It's clear that much greater collaboration across sectors and across businesses is needed


(Shruthi Jayaram) #189

Companies can also fund research on the issue, filling critical data gaps. Our work with Intel on the internet gender gap is a great example of this (http://www.intel.com/content/dam/www/public/us/en/documents/pdf/women-and-the-web.pdf)


(Gerry Boyle) #190

It's probably a difficult ask of the HLP, but I wonder if we could formulate something that goes beyond platitude around this need for greater collaboration


(Polly Le Grand) #191

Having a shared understanding of where the gaps are definitely helps with the collaborative approach that Georgie mentioned.

Shruthi Jayaram said:

Companies can also fund research on the issue, filling critical data gaps. Our work with Intel on the internet gender gap is a great example of this (http://www.intel.com/content/dam/www/public/us/en/documents/pdf/wom...)


(Alex MacGillivray) #192

We are about to do some work on this sector in Bangladesh but we won't have results for six months or so


(Hester le Roux) #193

That brings us to the end of the session. Please do keep posting your observations and include links to reports and other materials that you think might add to our exploration of what works.

Thank you so much to our panellists for being so generous with your time and insights. And thank you to everyone from the Business Fights Poverty community who joined in - we appreciate your support for this Challenge and your sharing your thoughts and experiences with us.

We will incorporate key messages from these discussions into our report to the UK Secretary of State and Panellists to the UN High Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment, Justine Greening.

We will be running a number of other events and activities as part of this BFP/CARE Challenge on Women’s Economic Empowerment. If you’d like to stay up to date with our activities and haven’t already joined the Challenge, you can do so here.

And the DFID Survey will run for another few weeks - if you have not yet completed it, please do so soon! Your input is hugely valuable to us.

Many thanks.


(georgie) #194

Hi Shruthi there's a very specific example posted earlier that may be of interest of industry and NGO collaboration to improve working conditions and shift mindsets for women beer promoters in Cambodia - led by CARE.

Shruthi Jayaram said:

Agree this is highly context-specific but companies can engage in different ways to combat systemic gender imbalances for example, through advertising as we discussed earlier, sharing best practices publicly and partnering with the development community to increase adoption of best practices, using CSR as a lever to fund women's empowerment, etc. Would love to hear if anyone has examples of any of these, especially on the partnering on best practices bit


(Tania Beard) #195

Hi Kelly,

Thanks for reaching out. I'm actually based in Senegal so do feel free to get in touch. I think deliberate community engagement with heads of communities and religious leaders to get their buy in is a must through a number of pre-meetings. The buy-in of the chef de village and Imam in Senegal have been instrumental to moving the needle on female genital cutting. As for backlash from male partners - men's and community education can go along way. Care International has done some great work here. In general - everyone should feel included even though the programme will be run by women. Partnering with a local NGO is normally a great way of doing this. Tostan, in Senegal, might be a good partner as they have a huge grassroots network.


Kelly Lavelle said:

Thank you Gerry and Tania and Kelly Lavelle here. I am in the process of launching ElleSolaire, a women-centred Senegal based social entreprise for last mile distribution of solar technologies - the potential 'backlash' in rural communities is a primary concern I have in designing our programme and would ask if you have specific examples on effective ways to mitigate against it?



Tania Beard said:

Gerry that's such a key point. What we've seen is if the focus is on economic empowerment alone, without consideration of the power dynamics at the community and household level, you can end up with a backlash. The design of the economic empowerment programme needs to be broad and deliberate about this.

Gerry Boyle said:

Another point which we are very aware of is that if investments are made in women and their output increases in productivity and therefore value, there is a risk that men step in and increasingly take over ownership of the output. So we do need to be working on men’s and community attitudes to ensure women retain some control over the value they create.


(Lara Bianchi) #196

Dear Hester,

I think this publication on Gender and Global Value Chains: Challenges of Economic and Social U... is a great contribution of Stephanie around the theme.

You could also find very interesting this paper on Gendered Global Production Networks: Analysis of Cocoa–Chocolate So..., which has been published on Regional Studies, 2014.

Thank you again for this great webinar!


Hester le Roux said:

Thanks Lara (and please thank Prof Barrientos for her contribution) - I was wondering whether you could provide a link to some of Prof Barrientos' recent research on gender and value chains? I'm sure many participants in this discussion would be interested in learning more about her research findings.