New York

15 March 2016

Secretary-General's Remarks at the Women's Empowerment Principles Annual Event [As prepared for delivery]

Thank you very much, Ms. Lise Kingo, Executive Director of the United Nations Global Compact, [and Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of the UN Women,] for organizing this important gathering. Thank you also to Ms. Elizabeth Broderick and Mr. Joseph Keefe, Co-Chairs of Women’s Empowerment Principles Leadership Group

I am honoured to be joined also by Ms. Fiza Farhan [“F-eee-za Far-han”], CEO of Buksh Foundation and Director of Buksh Energy Pvt. Ltd. [“Private Limited”], who is also a member of my High-Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment.

It is my great pleasure to join you at the 2016 Women’s Empowerment Principles Annual Event at the 60th Commission on the Status of Women.

I thank the UN Global Compact and UN Women for bringing together such a dynamic group to shine the light on how business can advance gender equality. I am pleased to see the Women’s Empowerment Principles event as part of the CSW. I hope it will continue to provide an entry point for business going forward.

This is a critically important CSW session because it falls in the first year of the 2030 Agenda as well as the Paris Agreement on climate change.

They say that making a good start is equally to doing half the job, so this year is especially crucial.

We cannot achieve our Sustainable Development Goals without securing the full and equal rights of half of the world’s population, in law and in practice. Women can also drive climate action.

When companies invest in women, they see a range of benefits and a return on investment. It is clear that gender equality is a business issue.

The Global Compact Women’s Empowerment Principles constitute the largest initiative for business and gender equality. The principles are comprehensive and practical – and they are already having an impact around the world.

The growth of the Women’s Empowerment Principles over the past six years is a testament their value.

When we launched this initiative in 2010, I spoke to a small committed, group. Now, the Women’s Empowerment Principles count more than one thousand and one hundred CEO signatories from 80 countries. They represent all industries and all regions. 

The Women’s Empowerment Principles have inspired concrete policies and practices that are empowering women in business operations, hiring, training, contracting and procurement.

The Principles have also helped business work more closely with the UN to reach our common goals of ensuring equality, achieving the 2030 Agenda and advancing climate action.

I thank all of you for this significant progress.

I welcome the many participating CEOs who are providing innovative solutions to the challenges facing women. I am especially impressed to hear from a leader from the next generation: Fiza Farhan, a young female entrepreneur from Pakistan. I am proud to have her serve on my high-level panel on women's economic empowerment.

Ms. Farhan’s story is so important because she is part of the largest generation of youth in history. The Sustainable Development Goals are for them. We will never achieve these Goals without tapping into the energy, talent and expertise of young women and girls.

I count on each of you to align your operations with the Women’s Empowerment Principles and take bold action to ensure gender equality.

This will help achieve a life of dignity for all people, living on a safe, peaceful and sustainably prosperous planet.

Thank you.