In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis that imposes disproportionate burdens on women, there has not been any more timelier opportunity than today to shed light on women’s empowerment and leadership in the business sector. Today, UN Women's WeEmpowerAsia programme funded by European Union, Indonesia Global Compact Network (IGCN), and Indonesia Business Coalition for Women Empowerment (IBCWE), with the support from the Indonesia Stock Exchange and the International Finance Corporation, held a virtual “Ring the Bell for Gender Equality” in Indonesia to mobilise the business sector on advancing gender equality, particularly during this challenging time. The initiative is part of global bell-ringing events held at more than 100 stock exchanges all over the world and in conjunction with the commemoration of International Women’s Day 2021 with the theme ‘Women in Leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world’.
In his keynote speech, Indonesian Vice Minister for State-Owned Enterprises (BUMN/SOE), Pahala Nugraha Mansury, who represented Minister of SOE/BUMN, Erick Thohir said "I want to take the important moment today to remind us to use our strength, power, and skills to support women around us to become more empowered, influential, and able to assume leadership positions. In order to do this, let us give the opportunities to women's role and advancement to open doors that would advance company and nation's growth."
Anita Bhatia, Deputy Executive Director of UN Women, supported the initiative made by the business sector during these unprecedented times, by emphasising the importance of women’s representation in economic recovery post-COVID-19. “This is the moment to highlight the importance of the synergies between restarting economic growth and progress in gender equality and creating a post-pandemic society that pays attention to equality in all sectors and at all levels of leadership in order to make the economic recovery faster and stronger for everyone,” she said in her keynote address.
Henriette Faergemann, First Counsellor – Environment, Climate Action and ICT, European Union Delegation to Indonesia encouraged companies and other organisations present in the event to be an ally for equality. “Women’s leadership within the business sector advances sustainable and inclusive growth. In Indonesia, the EU is working through the WeEmpowerAsia initiative to show that supporting women in the workplace is important – and also profitable. Their leadership is especially important in times like these where we face global economic challenges that impact women the hardest.”
In 2018, a study from IBCWE, IGCN and UN Women on the Application of Women’s Empowerment Principles in Indonesia’s Top 50 Companies showed that the average percentage of women on company boards compared to total board members was only 28%. Although 68% of these companies have made commitments to provide facilities targeting women employees, such as lactation and nursery rooms, flexible working arrangements, and education and training programs, only 30% had active policies with regards to equal opportunities, promotion, career advancement and only 6% had policies to regularly evaluate equal pay.
“To pursue the goals of women's empowerment, we need collaboration. It shall need a multi stakeholder approach between the public sector, civil society and business sector. The business sector is still one of the most strategic and very strong allies for the implementation principle of women’s empowerment. I encourage all CEOs to consider possible improvements in the workplace, marketplace, and community, to positively pave the way to make tremendous impact to our women employees, suppliers and customers,” shared Shinta Kamdani, Board Member of the Indonesia Business Coalition for Women’s Empowerment (IBCWE) in her speech when leading the appreciation session for Indonesian companies who have signed the Women’s Empowerment Principles.
Reiterating Ms Kamdani’s statement, Y.W. Junardy, President of the Indonesia Global Compact Network (IGCN) encouraged more businesses to take action. “It is important for the business to commit to the empowerment of women. Empowering women in the workplace, marketplace, and community can create a sustainable future, not only for the immediate employees but also for the sustainability of the business. UN Global Compact through it's Local Network in Indonesia, IGCN, inspire and engage business and other stakeholders to take concrete action to advance gender equality among others through capacity building which refers to Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs)”
Launched in 2010 by UN Women and the UN Global Compact, the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) consist of seven principles guiding businesses to become more gender-responsive across their value chain. By becoming part of the WEPs community, companies can analyse their current initiatives, set benchmarks and reporting practices, and tailor gender-responsive practices to realise women’s empowerment. As of today, 60 Indonesian companies have signed the WEPs and more are expected to join.
“Leaders around the globe right now face the huge challenge of rebuilding post-pandemic economies, and while we can rebuild better, women must be at the heart of how we approach this monumental task,” said Azam Khan, IFC Country Manager for Indonesia, Malaysia and Timor-Leste. “We welcome and encourage the unified voice that stock exchanges add to advocating for equal gender representation on company boards and in senior management as a smart business strategy.”
Risa Rustam, Director of Finance and Human Resources, Indonesia Stock Exchange, further encouraged the business sector in Indonesia to work together in realising gender equality, “More than 42% of Indonesia’s population are women. Therefore, investing in gender equality and women's empowerment is the right and smart thing to do. Not only will it lead to a safer community, gender equality will also bring profits for businesses and faster economic growth. It is time for change, hence companies need to work together to achieve this goal by incorporating gender equality and women empowerment principles in their business practices.”
About UN Women
UN Women is the United Nations organisation dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. A global champion for women and girls, the organisation was established in 2010 to accelerate progress on women’s rights worldwide. UN Women’s efforts are based on the fundamental belief that every woman has the right to live a life free from violence, poverty, and discrimination, and that gender equality is a prerequisite to achieving global development. WeEmpowerAsia is a UN Women programme funded by and in partnership with the European Union that seeks to increase the number of women who lead and participate in business in China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam. For more information, visit http://weempowerasia.org.
Indonesia Global Compact Network (IGCN) is a local chapter of the United Nations Global Compact, the largest corporate sustainability initiatives. A call for companies to equate strategy and operations with the universal principles of human rights, labor, the environment, and anti-corruption, and take action that can advance the goals of society.
Indonesia Business Coalition for Women Empowerment (IBCWE) is a coalition of companies committed to promoting women's economic empowerment and gender equality. Our mission is to support businesses to optimise their role in improving women's economic empowerment and gender equality. IBCWE was formed with the support of the Australian Government through the Investing in Women program.
Indonesia Stock Exchange (IDX) is a non-profit Self-Regulatory Organisation (SRO) in the Indonesia Capital Market that provides stock exchange services, which include market information and data, regulations, trading infrastructure, and trading services. IDX operates under the supervision of Indonesia Financial Services Authority (Otoritas Jasa Keuangan). As the only Stock Exchange in Indonesia, IDX consistently promotes Indonesia Capital Market’s integrity and ensures that securities trading activities are exercised in an orderly, fair, and efficient manner. For more information, visit www.idx.co.id.
IFC—a member of the World Bank Group—is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets. We work in more than 100 countries, using our capital, expertise, and influence to create markets and opportunities in developing countries. In fiscal year 2020, we invested $22 billion in private companies and financial institutions in developing countries, leveraging the power of the private sector to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity. For more information, visit www.ifc.org.
About the European Union
The European Union is the economic and political union of 27 Member States. Together, the European Union has built a zone of stability, democracy and sustainable development while maintaining cultural diversity, tolerance and individual freedom. In 2012, the European Union was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for advancing the goals of peace, reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe. The European Union is the world's largest trading bloc, and the world's largest source and destination of foreign direct investment. Collectively, the European Union and its member countries are the largest donors of Official Development Assistance (ODA), providing more than half of ODA globally.
The 27 Member States of the European Union (in alphabetical order) are: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.