Gender equality is a fundamental and inviolable human right and women’s and girls’ empowerment is essential to expand economic growth, promote social development and enhance business performance. The full incorporation of women’s capacities into labor forces would add percentage points to most national growth rates – double digits in many cases. Further, investing in women’s empowerment produces the double dividend of benefiting women and children, and is pivotal to the health and social development of families, communities and nations.

Empowering women and girls and achieving gender equality requires the concerted efforts of all stakeholders, including business. All companies have baseline responsibilities to respect human rights, including the rights of women and girls. Beyond these baseline responsibilities, companies also have the opportunity to support the empowerment of women and girls through core business, social investment, public policy engagement and partnerships. As the engine for 90 percent of jobs in developing countries, technological innovation, capital creation and investment, responsible business is critical to the advancement of women’s and girls’ empowerment around the world. With a growing business case, private sector leaders are increasingly developing and adapting policies and practices, and implementing cutting edge initiatives, to advance women’s empowerment within their workplaces, marketplaces and communities. The launch of the SDGs in September provides a tremendous opportunity for companies to further align their strategies and operations with global priorities by mainstreaming gender equality into all areas of corporate sustainability and systematically and strategically scaling up actions which support the development and livelihoods of women and girls.