International Women’s Day (part 1 of 2)

Sustainable Development Goal 5 calls on the international community to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. Although this means that everyday should focus in on the rights and challenges of women, March 8th calls for an additional focus. This year’s International Women’s Day has the theme “Think equal, build smart, innovate for change.” The theme will focus on innovative ways in which we can advance gender equality and the empowerment of women, particularly in the areas of social protection systems, across to public services and infrastructure.

Despite the importance of these issues, and the work that Signatories are doing, few PRME Signatories report on gender issues in their Sharing Information on Progress Reports (SIP). However this doesn’t mean that Signatories are not active in ensuring that the targets set within SDG 5 are reached, within their own organisation and beyond. Here are some examples of the work that Signatories, but in particular PRME Champion schools, are doing in honour of International Women’s Day.

Bifrost University in Iceland has developed a training development project called Advancing Migrant Women. It is run by five European project partners and funded by an Erasmus+ Strategic Partnership Grant. The project aims to develop high quality training material and support for migrant women, and to empower them by developing their entrepreneurial skills and employability. This is achieved through a holistic programme, based on training and mentoring which will increase their self-efficacy and confidence. This, in turn, should gradually improve the livelihood of these women and support their social inclusion and active citizenship. There are direct economic and social gains to be made by developing the skills of a minority such as migrant women. As active participants in society and the economy, individuals are better equipped to both increase their own wellbeing and to contribute to other’s.

School of Business and Management at the Institut Teknologi Bandung students have been involved in community projects related to each of the SDGs. In one, students found that school aged children in a particular community in Indonesia that didn’t have the opportunity to study were primarily women and one of the reasons was that they were getting married at a young age. In response, students conducted workshops to raise awareness of the importance of educating girls as well as clarifying details on the minimal age for marriage. Another student project found that several widows in another area of Indonesia wanted to contribute to their family’s economy but the majority lacked the skills to do so. Students conducted a campaign to show women in the area how recycling plastic waste could be beneficial to their economy and one leader now transforms plastic waste into bags that are sold for additional income.

PRME Champion La Trobe Business School has continued working to create a more equal workplace. It has a goal to actively participate in, contribute to and track their progress in realising the targets set out in the University’s gender strategy, which promotes greater participation and representation of women at all levels of the University. They continue to investigate on-going barriers and systemic issues obstructing gender equality in the School where of more than 130 academic staff on continuing or fixed-term contract, 25% are at the Professorial or Associate-Professorial level and 37% are female. For example, the University’s Women’s Academic Promotions Support Program, designed to demystify the promotion process and provide peer support through senior mentors and mentor groups, has resulted in an increase in the number of academic promotion applications received from women. Because of their ongoing work, La Trobe received a citation from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency as an Employer of Choice for Gender Equality.

PRME Champion Kemmy Business School at the University of Limerick As part of a European Commission funded project, Dr. Christine Cross and Dr. Caroline Murphy of KBS together with a wider team of researchers jointly developed a toolkit which enables organisations to increase the numbers of women taking senior decision making roles, and in particular sitting on key decision-making committees internally. The toolkit focuses on three key human resource areas, recruitment and selection, performance management and promotion and succession planning. A key element of the research was the production of a practice-friendly report ‘Tailoring organisational practices to achieve gender equality: a best practice guide’. The guide has also been disseminated through Ibec, who are the main employer group in Ireland, ensuring that the research had real impact across a range of sectors in Ireland.

PRME Champion IPM Business School in Belarus has organised a number of open lectures and seminars. One of these was a seminar to present and discuss the results of a research project “Women in Belarusian Business: Current State and Barriers”. The seminar was the final stage of the project “Equal Rights for Women in Business in Belarus and Ways for the Boost of Innovativeness” conducted with the support of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida).The project goal was to identify the barriers for female entrepreneurs, disseminate the knowledge to the business education actors, and prepare a research-based platform for discussions with policy-makers on importance of female entrepreneurship. Problems and possible solutions of better integration of women entrepreneurs in the economy of Belarus were discussed at the seminar.

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