Bringing Down Legal Barriers to Women’s Economic Empowerment: An Economic and Business Imperative

  • Overview

    While there is data to support that closing the gender gap would increase the GDP of countries around the world and advance sustainable development globally, women continue to face a range of legal barriers to economic empowerment. According to the World Bank’s Women, Business and the Law 2016, almost 90 percent of 173 countries researched have at least one legal barrier restricting women’s empowerment. Bringing down these barriers is an economic and business imperative and critical to achieving a range of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), most notably, SDG5 and SDG16.

    In follow-up to the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment, this high-level event will bring together global business leaders, UN Ambassadors, heads of business associations, UN agencies and civil society organizations to discuss the opportunity to spur economic development, propel business growth and advance the Sustainable Development Goals by removing legal barriers to women’s economic empowerment. Business leaders will highlight their commitment to the UN Global Compact and the Women’s Empowerment Principles, and how good governance creates an enabling environment for sustainable and inclusive business to flourish. 





    Arrival: Coffee and Networking



    Welcome Remarks

    • Michael Møller, Director-General, United Nations Office at Geneva



    Host & Moderator Introduction

    • Arancha González, Executive Director, International Trade Centre
    • Amanda Ellis, Special Advisor for International Programs and Partnerships, East-West Center (EWC) and former Ambassador of New Zealand to the United Nations



    Opening Remarks: Gender Equality, Business and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

    • Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director, UN Women
    • Lise Kingo, Executive Director, UN Global Compact



    Identifying the Barriers

    • Augusto Lopez-Claros, Director, Global Indicators Group, Development Economics, The World Bank Group
    • Simona Scarpaleggia, CEO, IKEA Switzerland and Co-Chair, UN High Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment
    • Linda Kromjong, Secretary-General, International Organization of Employers
    • Vanessa Erogbogbo, Head of Women and Trade Programme, International Trade Centre



    Business Leader Panel: Defining the Opportunity

    • Sheila Penrose, Chairman of the Board, JLL
    • Paul Rawlinson, Chairman of the Executive Committee, Baker & McKenzie
    • Inez Murray, CEO, Global Banking Alliance for Women 
    • Monique Villa, CEO, Thomson Reuters Foundation



    Closing Panel: Building Partnerships

    • Hanna Birna Kristjánsdóttir, Chair of the Executive Board, Women in Parliaments Global Forum
    • Ambassador Pamela K. Hamamoto, Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations and other international organizations in Geneva & International Geneva Gender Champion