Governments and companies from more than 30 countries meet at CdS for gender equality in the workplace

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In a global context where women earn, on average, 24 percent less than men for the same work and hold only 22 percent of senior management positions, more than 230 representatives of governments, private and public companies, trade unions and research organizations from 34 countries gathered on Monday, November 21st, to share innovative strategies and discuss persistent challenges for advancing gender equality in the workplace.

“The private sector can make a critical contribution to eliminating gender inequalities, empowering women economically and driving the achievement of sustainable development,” said Susan McDade, Deputy Assistant Administrator and Deputy Director for UNDP's Regional Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean, at the opening of the Third Global Forum: 'Business for Gender Equality: Advancing the Sustainable Development Goals.'

The three-day forum, hosted by UNDP and the Government of Panama at the City of Knowledge Convention Center, features representatives of diverse companies such as Google, Ernst and Young, McKinsey & Co., Itaipu, Argos and COPA Airlines, among others from the banking, energy, technology and telecommunications spheres.

Government and business leaders voiced their commitment to advancing gender equality in the work place.

“The Government of Panama puts great importance on promoting gender equality in all of our state entities and is developing action plans to promote gender equality, such as by increasing promotions of women and putting more women into managerial positions,” said Manuel Grimaldo, Vice Minister of Trade and Industry, Government of Panama.

Women's equality in the workplace is not only good for women, but contributes to the growth of countries as well. The World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Report 2016 notes recent estimates suggesting that economic gender parity could add an additional US$240 billion to the GDP of the United Kingdom, US$1,201 billion to that of the United States, US$526 billion to Japan's, and US$285 billion to the GDP of Germany.

On Monday, participants highlighted a range of initiatives designed to create equitable work environments and increase women's access to decent work, including by eliminating gender pay gaps; increasing women's role in decision-making at middle and upper management levels; developing and implementing policies that enhance work-life balance; promoting women's participation in traditionally male industries, and eradicating sexual harassment in the workplace.

The forum will showcase UNDP's work supporting governments in Latin America and the Caribbean to develop Gender Equality Seal Certification Programmes to recognize public and private sector organizations for meeting high standards for gender equality in the workplace. Since the initiative was launched in 2010, more than 400 companies in 11 countries in the region have been certified. UNDP is now expanding the initiative globally.

Governments and businesses participating in Gender Equality Seal Certification Programmes confirmed that, in addition to empowering female employees economically, the initiative results in such corporate benefits as greater efficiency and staff performance, increased employee commitment to the company, improved recruitment and an enhanced public image.