A new era of the SDGs – Shaping the future we want is about women empowerment

by Iris Van Der Veken, Director – International Public Affairs at DMCC

We cannot achieve the Sustainable Development Goals without securing the full and equal rights of half of the world’s population. I have a message to deliver, and a simple one. In short, the pursuit of sustainability starts by being the change we want to see in the world, according to Mahatma Gandhi. We have choices to make and these choices should include women. What I want to focus on here is three-fold: values, partnerships and women empowerment.

Values – shaping the future we want

Back in 1999, Kofi Annan called on international business leaders to initiate a “Global Compact” of shared values. He sought to give a human face to the global market as the world faced a crisis in confidence, and The United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) was born. The global compact is about integrating principles on human rights, labour rights, environment and anti-corruption throughout your organisation and value chain.

Women rights are human rights. Fast forward to the present, this year on International Women’s Day the Secretary General of the UN António Guterres stated the time is now. This requires transforming policies and a different mindset. We need to break the structural barriers that women and girls face – unpaid care work, unequal pay, conscious and unconscious bias, harmful stereotypes, legal restrictions, discrimination and violence.

Partnerships – each one of us has a role to play

The principles of the Compact are inextricably linked to the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were agreed by the 193 UN Member States and designed to deliver of the UN for a world without poverty, a thriving planet, a vibrant and inclusive global economy, and a life of dignity for all.

A new era of the SDGs – Shaping the future we want is about Women Empowerment

During a panel discussion at the latest Sustainability Knowledge Series event hosted by DMCC for its 15,000 member companies, in collaboration with the United Nations Global Compact Network UAE and WEPs UAE.

You can join this leadership movement. Sustainability is a step by step process of continuous improvement. Take women on board to build your business and drive your agenda on sustainability not just because it’s the right thing to do but because it is the smart thing to do. A recent study on business and diversity from Mc Kinsey & Company found that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on their executive teams were 21% more likely to experience above-average profitability.

Women empowerment is the greatest opportunity of our time – UAE is leading the way

Statistics indicate that if women played the same role in the labour market as men, $28 trillion would be added to global annual GDP by 2025.

We simply cannot achieve the critical SDGs without securing the full and equal rights of half of the world’s population. Women Empowerment (SDG 5) is the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and should be seen as a universal mission.

There’s no doubt in that when we speak about women’s rights in the Middle East, the UAE leads the way. Determined to ensure women’s rights are at the forefront, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has assigned the UAE Gender Balance Council. The Global Compact in the UAE is the fastest growing local network and is embracing the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs).

DMCC as a leading free zone is committed to taking the lead in this conversation, and advance the seven Principles at every opportunity possible. Join us in the conversation.

The time is now.  This is a call for action .


Want to become a WEPs UAE signatory and/or a taskforce member? Click here or contact our Outreach Team at Hanane.Arif@socgen.com and malouf.ag@pg.com.