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WEF: Gender parity has to be a men’s issue too

gender equality

Davos : In order to make meaningful progress in narrowing gender gap, leaders from across the world believe it requires abandoning set expectations from men and women and getting more men to commit to address this challenge.

In a session on gender parity at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2016, government and business leaders agreed that addressing gender gap has to be a men’s issue too.

Separately, members of the World Economic Forum’s Oil & Gas community released a ‘Call to Action’ for the industry to close the gender gap within the sector. This was endorsed by 22 global firms including two Indian companies Reliance Industries and Essar Group.

The initiative aims to build on efforts already being undertaken at individual company levels to attract, develop and retain female staff, especially in technical and senior management roles and to remove barriers that may hinder or discourage women from rising through the ranks into leadership roles.

“This is good for our people, good for our stakeholders, and good for our business,” the declaration on ‘Call to Action’ said.

Chief Operating Officer of Facebook Sheryl Sandberg said, it is important to address gender expectations even when young, adding “men are expected to lead and women are expected to nurture”.

Jonas Prising, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of ManpowerGroup, USA said: “To have women not participate when they do have the skills is sub-optimisation on a massive scale.”

A key step in achieving progress towards gender parity is to gather the data needed to get an accurate picture of the positions of men and women in the world today, experts said.

“We need a good repository of data to know where we are with men and women in the world,” Melinda Gates, Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in the US said.

On appointing a gender-equal Cabinet after becoming Prime Minister of Canada in November Justin Trudeau said he could not have achieved the balance if he and his party had not made concerted efforts in the years running up to the election to recruit women to run for parliament.

Trudeau’s priority for speeding up progress in achieving gender parity: Get men involved.

“Men have to be a big part of this conversation,” the prime minister said. Men, he concluded, “shouldn’t be afraid of the word ‘feminist’ and men and women shouldn’t be afraid of describing themselves as feminist.”

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