African Business Leaders Pledge to tackle Gender Inequality at the Africa CEO Forum

Kigali, Rwanda, May 16, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The UN Global Compact Africa Business Leaders Coalition (ABLC) called for greater private sector action to advance gender equality across the continent during a dialogue at the Africa CEO Forum held in Kigali, Rwanda. At current rates it is estimated it will take over 150 years to close the gender gap in Africa.

Opening the event, Sanda Ojiambo, CEO and Executive Director of the UN Global Compact, the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative welcomed the ABLC’s role in driving forward commitment and action from business and noted the critical role of the Africa CEO Forum in highlighting such initiatives: "This forum has showcased the powerful initiatives and the collaborative spirit necessary to advance gender equality and sustainable development in Africa. The discussions and launches over these two days have set a robust agenda for our collective efforts moving forward."

Companies have a crucial role in the lives of 400 million working women in Africa and the potential for an immense positive impact on the entire economy. The ABLC, representing businesses with over $150 billion in revenue and employing more than one million people across 50 African countries, views gender equality as both a moral imperative and a driver of sustainable economic development. The coalition has already been instrumental in driving collective climate action through the Africa Business Leaders’ Climate Statement endorsed at COP 27. 

The ABLC Gender Statement promoted by executives including Diane Karusisi from Bank of Kigali, Phumzile Langeni from DP World/Imperial Logistics, and Hassanein Hiridjee from Axian underlines the role of the private sector’s role in enhancing gender equality through measurable and actionable commitments aligning with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG 5 to achieve gender equality and empower all girls. The Coalition's vision is to weave gender equality into the fabric of all strategic business decisions, fostering an environment that benefits from the full spectrum of talent, irrespective of gender.

Key highlights of the ABLC's commitment include: 

Improving representation: The Coalition aims to ensure equal representation of women in leadership positions, with the long-term goal of achieving gender parity at all levels. This includes nurturing a pipeline of leadership-ready women through opportunities that support their growth from entry-level roles to the C-suite.

Data and Transparency: The ABLC commits to collecting, analyzing, and reporting sex-disaggregated data to track progress on gender equality. This approach will allow for measurable goals, ensuring tailored interventions and accurate impact measurement. Key performance indicators aligned to existing frameworks of the UN Global Compact will be developed to measure progress towards the stated commitments.

Gender Responsive Policies: The Coalition pledges to implement inclusive policies that foster bias-free workplaces. This includes equal pay for work of equal value, grievance channels to address disparities, and flexible working arrangements to support parental leave and care responsibilities. It also includes procurement policies and business practices that support suppliers’ efforts for gender equality.

Support for Women Entrepreneurs: Recognizing the significance of women-led businesses, particularly in the informal sector, the ABLC will provide resources, mentorship, and procurement opportunities to help women entrepreneurs succeed throughout the supply chain.

Advocacy and Collaboration: The Coalition seeks to eradicate negative gender stereotypes and biases in workplaces and communities, advocating for policies that support women's advancement. It also calls on African governments to enact and enforce measures that promote gender parity and protect women's health and safety.

The ABLC Statement builds on the findings of a survey by the UN Global Compact and Boston Consulting Group of men and women across five major African economies (Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria and South Africa). The survey found there is a significant expectation-reality gap with many believing there was gender parity in spite of empirical evidence and men and women’s own experiences in Africa showing otherwise. The survey outlined steps private sector companies must take to drive forward gender equality in business.

Notes to Editors

About the UN Global Compact

As a special initiative of the United Nations Secretary-General, the UN Global Compact is a call to companies worldwide to align their operations and strategies with Ten Principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption. Our ambition is to accelerate and scale the global collective impact of business by upholding the Ten Principles and delivering the Sustainable Development Goals through accountable companies and ecosystems that enable change. With more than 20,000 participating companies, 5 Regional Hubs, 62 Country Networks covering 78 countries and 14 Country Managers establishing Networks in 20 other countries, the UN Global Compact is the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative — one Global Compact uniting business for a better world.

About the Africa Business Leaders Coalition (ABLC)

The Africa Business Leaders Coalition (ABLC) is a CEO-led initiative emanating from the UN Global Compact Africa Strategy 2021–2023 committed to advancing sustainable growth, prosperity, and development in Africa by bringing measurable impact to its most pressing issues. The ABLC works closely with the UN Global Compact Hub in Abuja and 10 African Local Networks operating across Africa.


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