Women and Work
When the WBII was founded nearly 15 years ago, our focus was on supporting women who wanted to start a business. Through the many activities organised by members on a volunteer basis – including networking events, training programmes, trade show participation, Mastermind Groups, the Book Club and our website – we bring women together so that they can share information and learn from and support each other. Our main purpose has never changed, and these activities are continuing in full force, even during the COVID-19 crisis.
Over the years, it became more and more apparent that as part of our main focus, we also had a role to play in advocating on behalf women entrepreneurs. To this end, we are adding a page on the WBII website where we share information on our advocacy activities. In fact, we decided to add this section to shine a light on what is happening in this important field. It’s interesting to note that the etymology of the word ‘advocate’ includes ‘one who intercedes for another’, and ‘protector, champion and patron’, all of which apply to our task.
In the past several months, we have become aware of a number of important activities in the field of women’s empowerment that also relate to entrepreneurs. The WBII Board has voted to sign on in support of them, and the purpose of this article is to bring you up to date on our activities.
Women Empowerment Principles (WEPs)
Through our membership on the Women Entrepreneurship Platform, we are connected to the United Nations and to UN Women – the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women – the agency working for the global empowerment of women.
In collaboration with UN Women and the United Nations Global Compact, the WBII has signed up in support of the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs). The WEPs are supported by business leaders from around the globe aiming to advance equality between women and men to:
- Bring the broadest pool of talent to our endeavours;
- Further companies’ competitiveness;
- Meet corporate responsibility and sustainability commitments;
- Model behaviour within companies that reflects the society we would like for our employees, fellow citizens and families;
- Encourage economic and social conditions that provide opportunities for women and men, girls and boys;
- Foster sustainable development in the countries in which we operate.
In addition to having global companies sign up to these principles, UN Women invited women’s entrepreneurship and other organisations to sign up as well to show the grassroots support for this programme. For more information, and to join this initiative please visit: https://www.weps.org/
ILO Convention to End Violence and Harassment in the World of Work
The topic of ‘Violence and Harassment in the World of Work’ affects us all, women, men and LGBTQ. A number of studies have demonstrated how pervasive harassment and violence in the workplace are, including their impacts on the physical, mental, emotional, social and economic well-being of those affected. As set out in the UN Secretary General’s Report on Violence against Women Migrant Workers (July 2019) 2, the situation is particularly difficult for migrant women workers.
The COVID-19 crisis has also exacerbated pressure on the most vulnerable populations, especially, women, youth, children, migrants and refugees, as well as people with disabilities. The risks faced by workers, including domestic violence affecting women working from home, cyber-bullying (in the case of tele-working), health risks faced by frontline workers in the health, agriculture, food-production, processing, distribution and other sectors are compounded and potentially deadly. The crisis has served to highlight the urgent need to protect all people from violence and harassment across the full range of workplaces and work-related activities impacting their daily lives. Governments must rise to the challenges of creating safe workplaces free of violence and harassment.
For these reasons, WBII has also endorsed the Advocacy Letter to ratify the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 190. This Convention was developed by the ILO and the Non-Governmental (NGO) Coalition to End Violence and Harassment in the World of Work. The letter can be found here: 551 civil society organizations have already endorsed the letter.
The bigger picture
In solidarity with women entrepreneurs around the world, we are highlighting our advocacy activities, which we consider to be a fundamental part of our programme. By supporting important advocacy matters, such the WEPs and the ILO Convention, WBII is also supporting women entrepreneurs in the broadest sense of the word. WBII’s memberships in the Women Entrepreneurship Platform and the Nederlandse Vrouwenraad (The Dutch Council of Women – NVR) connect us to advocacy organisations at the Dutch, European and international levels. Thanks to these connections, we are able to keep on top of what is happening on important topics and how we can support. We are proud of our advocacy programme and are continually searching for ways to contribute to them.