Achieving workplace productivity may remain a farfetched dream if gender gaps remain unaddressed, the Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) has said.
MCCCI president, Newton Kambala, made the observation at the official launch of the United Nations (UN) Women’s Empowerment Principles in Blantyre, Thursday.
Organised by UN Women in collaboration with the National Association of Business Women (Nabw), the event served as the official presentation of UN Women’s Empowerment Principles to industry captains.
The seven principles include establishing high-level corporate leadership for gender equality; treating all women and men fairly at work by respecting and supporting human rights and non-discrimination; ensuring the health, safety and well-being of all women and men workers.
The others are promoting education, training and professional development for women; implementing enterprise development, supply chain and marketing practices that empower women; promoting equality through community initiatives and advocacy; and measuring and publicly reporting on progress to achieve gender equality.
Launch of the principles comes after a recent declaration issued at this year’s Group of Seven Summit at which heads of state and government expressed support for the principles, and called on companies worldwide to integrate them into their activities.
“Success comes after closing gender gaps by, among other initiatives, putting women in positions of influence and power,” said Kambala.
Citing findings of the World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report, Kambala said workplace productivity increases by between 25 and 40 percent when the practice of harassing women is stemmed at the workplace. He further observed that women also serve as loyal customers.
Kambala said, in other parts of the globe, private sector players have started taking the initiative,
He cited a power industry company that has established shelters for victimised women in Brazil and a Kenyan company that is providing free day care.
On her part, Nabw National Coordinator, Chikumbutso Gondwe, said the principles could go a long way in increasing productivity in the country, hence her organisation’s involvement in spearheading the cause.
“We would like to ask companies to apply the principles at work because the decision will work to their advantage. It is true that productivity increases by between 25 and 40 percent when women are involved at the highest level. It is our hope that companies will embrace them,” said Gondwe.
While 1, 000 chief executive officers have signed up to the principles at the global level, only one company in the financial sector has signed up to the UN Women’s Principles in the country.
UN Women Country Representative for Malawi, Alice Harding Shackelford, said the private sector could act as a pacesetter in women empowerment, and reap the fruits that come with increased productivity.
She said she expected local companies to embrace the principles by, among other initiatives, implementing enterprise development, supply chain and marketing practices that empower women.
However, Shackelford observed that women, too, have a role to play in reversing negative practices.
“For example, we expect that, on their part, women should become confident in expressing themselves,” said Shackelford
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