The Women’s Empowerment Principles are a set of Principles for business offering guidance on how to empower women in the workplace, marketplace and community. They are the result of a collaboration between the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) and the United Nations Global Compact and are adapted from the Calvert Women’s Principles®. The development of the Women’s Empowerment Principles included an international multi-stakeholder consultation process, which began in March 2009 and culminated in their launch on International Women’s Day in March 2010.

Subtitled Equality Means Business, the Principles emphasise the business case for corporate action to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment and are informed by real-life business practices and input gathered from across the globe. The Women’s Empowerment Principles seek to point the way to best practice by elaborating the gender dimension of corporate responsibility, the UN Global Compact, and business’ role in sustainable development. As well as being a useful guide for business, the Principles seek to inform other stakeholders, including governments, in their engagement with business.

Governments also recognize that women’s inclusion drives development, and acknowledge that achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and national economic and development plans requires rapidly moving towards gender equality. Enhancing openness and inclusion throughout corporate policies and operations requires techniques, tools and practices that bring results. The Women’s Empowerment Principles, forged through an international multi-stakeholder consultative process, provide a “gender lens” through which business can analyse current initiatives, benchmarks and reporting practices.  Informed by real-life business practices, the Principles help companies tailor existing policies and practices – or establish needed new ones – to realize women’s empowerment.  Empowering women to participate fully in economic life across all sectors and throughout all levels of economic activity is essential to:

  • Build strong economies;
  • Establish more stable and just societies;
  • Achieve internationally-agreed goals for development, sustainability and human rights;
  • Improve quality of life for women, men, families and communities; and
  • Propel businesses’ operations and goals.

The Principles also reflect the interests of Government and civil society, and will support interactions among stakeholders as achieving gender equality requires the participation of all actors.

Australia and the WEPS

The Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) continue to grow in Australia. The WEPs – a joint initiative of the UN Global Compact and UN Women – are the only global set of principles offering practical guidance to business on how to empower women in the workplace, marketplace and community.

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