18 Schools, 18 Approaches – International Women’s Day (Part 2 of 3)

March 8th is International Women’s Day and the theme this year is an equal world is an enabled world. I have been tracking how PRME Signatories report on initiatives relating to women and gender in their Sharing Information on Progress reports for several years now and am still surprised at how few schools report on these. Over the next few days I will focus in on a few schools that have been and will share with you just a small selection of the impressive initiatives that they are organising. This list includes 18 schools from 14 different countries.  Click here for part 1.

Safer environment: FEAUSP in Brazil is one of the few schools in the world chosen by UN Women to join the HeForShe campaign, committed to fighting against gender inequality and violence. They have put in place a Women’s Office responsible for their “This has to stop” campaign. The idea is to stimulate a change of behaviour and call attention to the importance of reporting aggressions against women on campus. The Office also organises seminars and activities, including a women’s self-defence class, and has already carried out actions such as the mapping of lighting at USP’s campus in Butantã area. Students organised an initiative called Front of Women that aims to give more voice, visibility and strength to women in business.

Moving issues forwards: At UCD College of Business, the Annual “Difficult Conversations” Series brings together panels of experts to discuss controversial and challenging subjects relating to important business and society issues. The aim is to stimulate debate and discussion on controversial topics in a friendly and non-confrontational manner, allowing us to discuss the nuances of the issues and to move beyond polarised discussions which currently dominate the public discourse. One of the first events was focused on “Gender Quotas: The Holy Grail to Smashing the Glass Ceiling”.

Contributing to the SDGs in the community: PRME Champion T A PAI Management Institute has a number of special projects focused on women. One programme they are involved in is the Woman and Child nutrition programme, an initiative of the Centre for Inclusive Growth and Competitiveness, the Social Endeavour Group, T.A.Pai Management Institute along with the support of the Government of Karnataka The project aims at identifying the gaps and suggesting solutions to bridge the gaps existing between the distribution and monitoring system of this community project. The team is made up of 1st and 2nd year students.

Collaborative research: A UNESCO Chair on Responsible Foresight for Sustainable Development was established at Lincoln International Business School in January 2019. The main activities are in partnership with universities and NGOs in the Global South. One of the projects was to design and run unique workshops for Jordanian women entrepreneurs on responsible negotiation. The approach provides practical and concrete ways to bring desired futures closer by encouraging women entrepreneurs to imagine and create possibilities and to develop the capability to negotiate their position. Another research project focuses on understanding the relationship between gender equality and firm success in Brazil and another looks at achieving gender equity and transformation through a rights-based approach in particular focused on women’s health and access to health care. These projects are in collaboration with other schools with UNESCO Chairs.

Engaging youth: A Summer University Camp at Witten/Herdecke University was organised for 25 young people under the guidance of Christine Bleks, founder of the award winning social enterprise “Tausche Bildung fur Wohnen”. Several social innovators were invited to join the camp. Using various creativity techniques and methods from the field of design thinking, four groups of participants developed four different approaches to attaining the UN SDGs including one group focused on gender equality. Their idea looked at how consumers can work closely with pupils on non-violent and gender equitable communication strategies.

Women in leadership: Sabanci University in Turkey has several programmes focused on SDG 5. The School has maintained a database of board ready women in Turkey, supported companies who wanted to have female directors on their boards, and monitored the change in gender diversity of corporate boards. The Women Directors conference has become a regular annual activity where they report their findings including sharing the Women Empowered Board Index which is updated annually and awarding the Annual Women Empowered Board Awards. They have also teamed up with the London based 30% Club campaign. The Club consists of CEOs and Chairs who support the notion that gender diversity in the boards is good for business. Turkey chapter was launched in May 2017 and Sabanci chairs its Steering Committee.

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