December 12, 2019

Dialogue on the Power of Gender Parity: Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals

Ambuja Cement Foundation (ACF) in collaboration with the Global Reporting Initiative South Asia (GRI SA) with support from Swedish Institute and SIDA hosted a dialogue event on Thursday 5th December in Mumbai, bringing together a diverse range of stakeholders. To reflect and brainstorm on experiences and contributions to SDGs with a specific focus on women empowerment.

Whilst SDG 5 is focused on gender equality, women are intensely affected by each of the 17 proposed SDGs and will be instrumental to helping achieve each of these goals in the future. However, few development initiatives lay focus on the participation of women as an initial effort towards inclusive development and this needs to be accelerated much more if SDGs are to be met within India.

Gender Parity is not only a fundamental human right, but a necessary foundation for a peaceful and sustainable world. The exclusion of women places half of the world's population outside the realm of opportunity to partner in building prosperous societies and economies. Equal access to education, decent work, and representation in political and economic decision making processes are not only rights women should have, they benefit humanity at large. By investing in the empowerment of women, we not only make progress on Goal 5 of the Sustainable Development Goals, we also make gains on the alleviation of poverty and fuel sustainable economic growth.

The event also focused on exploring future opportunities for both strategizing as well as reporting on SDG's, by focusing on women empowerment and aimed to help facilitate an exchange of lessons learned and best practices between different organisations working on SDGs. A review of effective policies, approaches and practices which promote gender equality also took place and the event explored ways of reporting on SDGs from the perspective of women's empowerment. Participants of the event included senior representatives from diverse backgrounds, including CSR and sustainability officials of key corporates, government representatives, civil society and academic institutions. The focus was on mobilising the senior cadre across organisations to focus their strategy on the empowerment of women in the context of achieving in SDGs.

The event included keynote openings to share insights and experiences in the field of Women, Gender and SDGs. This involved Shraddha Joshi, MD of MAVIM, GoM and Senior Practioner and Academic expert Janhavi Andharia. Suman Agarwal, Senior Producer, Doordarshan also shared notes on how media needs to change in their thought process while stereotyping women. A highlight of the event when two women from rural India spoke about the challenges they face in the villages and how they have been empowered today and working towards empowering many more women in India.

Teresa Fogelberg, one of the most influential sustainability thought leaders and Chair Transparency Benchmark Netherlands Ministry of Economic Affairs & Bekeme Masade-Olowola, a renowned Nigerian social entrepreneur and GRI Board member also joined the conference virtually to present global views and solutions for this pressing issue. Bekeme said, "The discrimination of women globally has culminated into a feminism of poverty where women have less economic power because of the various structured barriers women face." While Teresa added, "For the first time with SDGs, businesses have a role to play in achieving sustainability goals. There are monitoring and measuring for both countries and businesses."

Equal access to education, job opportunities and representation in political and economic decision making processes are rights which every individual should get irrespective of gender, race or caste. A panel comprising experts from L&T Finance, Tata Power, Axis Bank Foundation, Piramal Foundation and KPMG came together to discuss how by investing in the empowerment of womenk, our nation can achieve SDG 5 as well as make gains on the alleviation of poverty and fuel sustainable economic growth. Individuals and organisations must encourage other women to come forward so that true potential can be reached.

Together, ACF and GRI along with other organisations will continue to initiate such dialogues with a hope to make India a nation where women can progress and live their dreams.

December 12, 2019

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