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The Beijing Platform for Action Turns 20

 

 

 

This week marks the anniversary of the landmark 1995 Fourth World Conference in Beijing. However 20 years on, many women are questioning how far we’ve really come and which priorities still need attention.

This last weekend represents the tail-end of a three-day global leaders summit in New York and the focus will inevitably turn to gender equality, which has become a high profile social issue for the UN throughout the year. UN member states, including Australia will report on the progress made since signing the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (a comprehensive roadmap to raise the status of women) which was signed at the Fourth Word Conference in 1995;  the biggest global women’s gathering to date.

However since this momentous landmark for women, many countries have struggled to achieve the goals set during the conference, with many (Australia included) going backwards in terms of key gender equality statistics.

In 1995, it took two weeks of heated political discussion, but eventually delegates thrashed out a landmark document that is now referred to as the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. It was signed by 189 nations, Australia included and focused on 12 key areas of concern- poverty, education, health, the economy, the media and violence against women, human rights, the girl child, institutional mechanisms, power and decision-making and human rights.

*However 20 years on, these key areas are still very much issues of concern; globally among 196 nations, only 10 have a female head of state and 14 a female head of government. Women make up just one fifth of the world’s parliamentarians and just 17 per cent of ministers.

200 million women don’t have access to modern contraception, while a women dies every two minutes in childbirth.

Closer to […]

From Fashion Thinking to Forward Thinking

To fit the happy and uplifting vibes that a Friday brings, we thought we would share an inspiring story all the way from Kenya.

Jessica Teutonico was the envy of many young women her age when she began working in New York City with luxury brands such as Tom Ford, Gucci and Vogue after leaving home in her late teens to work in Fashion.  While the glitz and glamour of the industry enamoured her initially, Jessica started to realise that something was missing and her life felt unfulfilled.

A lifelong curiosity in Kenya, led Jessica to join a working volunteer tourism trip to the country while working with Vogue. Once arriving in Kenya and working with the local communities, Jessica knew her life would never be the same again. Two weeks after arriving back in New York City, Jessica quit her job and founded the non-for-profit organisation ‘Under the Acacia’ in 2005, which focuses on sustainable community development in Kenya. Since this date Jessica has been working tirelessly with her team to fund community projects such as schools and clean water facilities. During this time, Jessica also became a mentor to a young Kenyan girl through the program Three Dot Dash (part of the We Are Family Foundation- WAFF).

“I thought I would change her life with my knowledge and connections. In fact, she has changed my life” Jessica now says of her young mentee.

“She and so many young people like her are unnumbered in their quest to change the world. It’s addictive.”

Jessica emphasises that embracing and involving the younger generation is imperative to meaningful change. Younger Generations are crucial, as their involvement ensures that the work Jessica and her team are doing today, lasts long after […]

Empower Women, Boost GDP

 

Below is an insightful speech discussing the practical and financial benefits of empowering women, especially in the workforce.

Both Elizabeth Broderick, outgoing Sex Discrimination Commissioner and Former Treasury Head, Martin Parkinson have written a speech published in the Australian Financial Review on how the empowerment of women is a critical economic reform in many countries, particularly those with ageing populations and how closing gender gaps within the workforce could significantly increase a country’s GDP.

Elizabeth is the co-founder of Male Champions of Change, a group that brings together Australia’s most influential and diverse male CEOs and Chairpersons. The group use their individual and collective influence and commitment to ensure the issue of women’s representation in leadership is elevated on the national business agenda and Martin Parkinson has been a long standing member.

To read the full speech see below:

“Empowerment of women is a critical economic reform in many countries, particularly those with ageing populations. The Second World Assembly for Women (WAW), convened by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan and held in Tokyo on 28-29 August, represents a groundswell of international commitment to increasing female participation as a key means of boosting GDP growth in developed and developing countries.

Japan is at an economic crossroads. Today, 25 per cent of Japan’s population is over 65. Over the next 50 years, the working age population will halve. This will lead the ratio of elderly to those of working age to fall from near 3:1 to close to 1:1. With fewer workers to support a larger aged population, the debt and tax burden falling on the young is likely to increase dramatically. Women’s workforce participation is particularly poor coupled with one of the lowest fertility rates in the OECD. Economists estimate […]

Twitter is the latest tech giant to publish workforce diversity targets for 2016…but do these targets really work?

 

 

 

Last Friday Twitter announced it’s commitment to diversity by outlining it’s goals for boosting the proportion of women and underrepresented minorities in it’s workforce.

The social networking site aims to increase the percentage of women on its payroll to 35%, as well as ensuring that 16% of its tech roles and 25% of its leadership roles are filled by women by 2016. Furthermore Twitter wants to see ‘underrepresented minority groups’ make up 11% of its global workforce by 2016. Currently, women make up 34% of Twitter’s overall staff, however women make up only 13% of tech roles within the organisation and only 22% of leadership positions as shown in the graph above. Meanwhile 72% of leadership roles at Twitter were held by caucasian staff and 28% by Asian staff,  with no representation at this level from other ethnicities.

Janet Van Huysse, VP of Human Resources at Twitter made a public announcement on Twitter’s blog explaining the diversity announcement.  “Our aim is to build a company we can really be proud of- one that’s more inclusive and diverse- we need to make sure it’s a great place for both new and current employees to work and to grow. That’s why these new goals focus on increasing the overall representation of women and underrepresented minorities throughout the whole company”. She then made the statement: “We’re holding ourselves accountable to these measurable goals, as should you”.

Twitter isn’t the first tech company to announce diversity targets for 2016. Intel, Apple and Microsoft have all pledged to increase the representation of women within their organisation. Microsoft Managing Director for Australia, Pip Marlow, made the promise to ensure 50% of candidates hired for their graduate program were women. While this commitment to diversity is all very well […]