Every Purchase Matters – How can you make a difference?

With 85 to 90 percent of sweatshop workers being women and only 11 percent of US companies providing formal paid familial leave to employees, companies play a huge role in the economic empowerment of women all over the world. Supporting companies that provide equal, livable wages and safe, dignified work environments for women through your purchasing habits can create a shift towards gender-responsive corporate policies. But how do we know which companies are actually supporting these principles effectively? This discussion is aimed to facilitated conversations about how individuals can better leverage their purchasing power to support women’s economic empowerment.

1. How do you think your own purchases could support women’s economic empowerment globally? 

2. What role do you think companies should play in contributing to women’s economic empowerment globally?

3. What tools can companies use to evaluate their gender-responsive policies and programmes and how can this information best be disseminated to consumers?

  • Bethel Tadesse

    I think educating women and the society that this is wrong will make a significant change. Not a lot of people know that this is even an issue. Therefore changing that perspective can create change and a better economic future for women. 

  • Monica Lerith Melendez Flores

    How do you think your own purchases could support women’s economic empowerment globally? 

    If we make a habit of purchasing merchandise to companies that provide a dignified work environment for women, companies that do are not aligned to what the customers are expecting will need to change the way they operate and start giving women a fair treatment, with equal opportunities and policies that will protect them as individuals.

    If the market is demanding for companies that are socially responsible and have desired to promote women economic empowerment, other companies will be forced to adapt.

    What role do you think companies should play in contributing to women’s economic empowerment globally?

    I think companies will push forward women economic empowerment, when they established new practices that promote women empowerment and engagement in the workplace, such as mentoring programs, sponsorship, parental leave, reviewing if they corporate culture really engages and promotes women participation in key decisions.

    Having examples of companies that have implemented this changes and have been successful will make other companies replicate their strategy and women empowerment will become a normal practice within the workforce.

     

    What tools can companies use to evaluate their gender-responsive policies and programmes and how can this information best be disseminated to consumers?

    Evaluate corporate climate, organize surveys regarding the level of engagement they are having from top managers and identifying what level engagement do they want to obtain, creating action plans to address the gaps, identifying the level of women participation and women representation and identifying women empowerment sponsors within the company to start the conversation in all levels of the company.

  • Ana Choza

    In my opinion I think that once again , Education is the key. Education as a tool to avoid consumerism, understood as the process of buying in very low prices without thinking in what conditions are those who produce the product.

    Sometimes due to the lack of knowledge and zero information available on this subject many people are unaware of the importance of the fair trade, which involves having rights, equality, security, possibilities and not exploitation.

    In terms of economic empowerment of women I think that a fair trade must also imply that women have the same rights and opportunities as men, and can work fairly and with economic and social recognition.  

  • Joy Eze

    My purchase will go a long way to support women economic empowerment globally, when I buy goods that are produce by women and girls, do my shopping from companies that are gender responsive. Companies should be gender responsive, and should sponsor women economic programs or projects globally. The companies can use survey to evaluate their policies and programs for effective purposes. This information can be best disseminated to consumers through global campaigns, television, bill boards and hand bill can be very effective. While in the rural communities organizing town hall meetings, interpersonal communication and also using of local languages may help to disseminate this information to the consumers effectively.

  • Laura Martinez
    1. I really believe in our purchusing power. Corporate lobbies are so powerful it is unrealistic to expect government to legislate everything to be ethical and sustainable. Instead corporations are always very interesting in analysing market trends. If each of us buys thoughtfully services and products, the corporations will have to listen and react. 2. Internal policies and programs to promote women workers. Actions more than words. 3. Gender Participatory Audits encouraged by the ILO would be very effective in the private sector.
  • Alysia Silberg

    Thank you to everyone for contributing to this dialogue. I found your perspectives really interesting- lots of food  for thought. There have been some incredible suggestions made. 

  • Kanchan Amatya

    Thank you everyone for sharing your wonderful perspectives towards this topic!

  • Rosario del Pilar Diaz Garavito

    If we start from a simple concept that says that the offer is regulated by the demand of goods and services, we can really understand the power we do have over all this markets structures. So when we do think about us as part of the problem but mostly as part of the solution we understand how powerful we are. The importance of being conscious consumers needs to take us to make smart decisions each time we get any kind of products and services, however we also need to thing about intersectionality in this cases, because when we are consumers and we do not have to think everyday "What my kids are going to have for dinner tonight? or how am I going to send to my kid to school?,  is easier to think about the people who is behind all of this companies and being more responsible with our choices. But when we are in this kind of situations, mostly in developing and not developed countries, people will choose whatever is closer to their possibilities, so in some cases is the cheapest thing or service that do not respect women rights, an example could be products such as electronics that are more expensive in this places that in developed countries, this because of the taxes and transportation, so people need them and they have to make a decision even sometimes against their personal believes.. 

    So we have the power over this issue according of how much power we do have with our selves and to provide our own families. This is why empowering women economically can reduce this situation and generate an idea of solidarity with those women who are still working in depending positions. 

    Companies should be responsible, however this is an articulation is not just about them, because if we go to the most simple concept that is still used by the academia in many places, we have that the primary goal and objective of a company is to get an income, so in many times this goal can take the fist place over offering gender responsive policies. So the companies need of us and also of the government to regulate them and require them to promote work environments where women are protected and respected. That´s why I say is not just about companies is also about us. 

    The tools to evaluate them selves can start with data bases, but not just to say this many women work here, but also evaluate them in how working with this company have benefited them as women and also their families. Companies need to see if women are spending time with their families, if they are actually covering their needs with the money they get paid and if they are becoming consumers of this companies as well. Because if my company has a  gender - responsive policy and my company provides goods of daily consume and my women employees are able to become my costumers even so the product or service is not super cheap compare to other brands. Then we would see something is changing.   

    So finally going back to the first paragraph the importance of facilitate people to understand why is important to support companies that have gender responsive policies, and the power the consumers have over this decisions and problematic then is easier to make this not something unusual but the way we all should buy and the way all the companies should offer.

     

     

  • Charlene Laidley

    3. What tools can companies use to evaluate their gender-responsive policies and programmes and how can this information best be disseminated to consumers?

    The first question is a lot more difficult to answer than the second. A number of my luminous peers here, have mentioned tools such as questionnaires, and certain electronic software tools. I can imagine that in certain parts of the world it could be a challenge to really know if the data you are being provided with was really accurate. I mentioned in my previous post just how wonderful it would be to clearly see that companies were committed to actively supporting and maintaining WEE policies - via some charter or display instore and online. The creation of a brand (instantly recognizable logo) that could be adopted across all companies that signed up to this, I feel would be the best way to effectively show a consumer the company they were shopping from were part of #ShopGood

  • Charlene Laidley

    2. What role do you think companies should play in contributing to women’s economic empowerment globally?

    Companies should be legally required to ensure that all of their practices; all over the world are safe, humane, dignified and fair for all workersWith as you say, 85-90% of sweatshop workers being women and only 11% of US companies providing formal paid familial leave to employees. ​I believe that govenments need to be commited to creating gender responsive corporate strategies (which they are) but then prepared to take swift and harsh action against companies that are not supporting these policies effectively. We need to see this action taking place at a grass roots level - not just conversations in the Houses of Parliament or in grand arenas - but our local MP's across the UK actively talking about this and jointly working with consumers and businesses for change.

    We also as individuals need to do more to champion and raise awareness of the companies that are doing there bit and more and by category - Companies such as Unilever for example. Nothing would make me more happier than going into my local reseller - John Lewis, Waitrose, Harrods, and Marks & Spencer - and seeing pledges from these companies specifically stating that they support WEE and that all their suppliers are supporting these policies effectively. 

    But just as importantly, we need to take action to not just name and shame under performing companies but do more to share good practices or those such as Johnson and Johnson, Unilever, so that there are models of best practice for these companies to work with and realistically know what and most importantly how to improve and are supported to do so.  

  • Charlene Laidley

    1. How do you think your own purchases could support women’s economic empowerment globally?  

    Like many women in the UK and around the world today, I make a great deal of my retail purchases (at least 85%) online. Whether for food, fashion, home DIY or business supplies - this definitely does seem to be a growing trend. In fact, a recent report by Econsultancy predicted that by the end of 2015 UK online retail sales would have reached £52.2b5n, a 16.2% increase on 2014. Shockingly this equates to 15.2% of all retail sales in the UK and means that on average UK consumers will spend £1,174 online in 2015, making us the most frequent online shoppers in the whole of Europe.

    The Empower Women Twitter chat, as well as the great suggestions here, outline what can be done to support WEE with our purchases and I feel highlighting the importance of the role we play in how we support the growth of online retail sales is particularly important. Just thinking about how many consumers shop from Amazon all over the world - do we really take the time and an active interest in obtaining key information on suppliers before we hit the ‘buy now’ button?

    I for one, will be making sure that my online retail purchases are a lot more considered moving forwards and encouraging my colleagues, friends and family to do the same. 

    I will also be seeking out more transparency from online resellers in terms of their policies, as to ensure that they are effectively supporting gender equality and the economic empowerment of women.

  • Catherine Nyoike

    This thread has become such a rich resource of ideas!

  • Adebisi Haruna

    3. What tools can companies use to evaluate their gender-responsive policies and programmes and how can this information best be disseminated to consumers?

    3. Using Performance Evaluation and Review will be helpful. Also the use of questionnaires, opinion pulls and analytical software can go along way. This information can be disseminated to customers through the use of banners, posters, blogs, social media and by gender specific adverts.

  • Adebisi Haruna

    1. How do you think your own purchases could support women’s economic empowerment globally?

    1. By purchasing goods that are produced by gender responsive companies. By warding supplies and other contracts to companies gender responsive policies and with women at the helm of leadership. At the micro level also, patronizing women at road-side shops and small holding business will go a long way.

    2. What role do you think companies should play in contributing to women’s economic empowerment globally? -

    2. Companies should implement policies that are gender responsive. Paid maternity leave, extended break hours for nursing mothers, in-premises day-care centers, staff schools for children of their workers will go a long way. However to make global impact, the multinational companies will have a great role to play. They can use their Corporate Social Responsibility, they can also have a day of service, dedicated to WEE.

  • Heanneah .S. Farwenee

    To contribute to women economic empowerment, companies must ensure gender balance in work positions. Ladies must not only occupied receptionist or cashier posts, but they should be encourage to explore higher positions unlike their male counterparts. Companies must encourage and empower women to lead. Companies must also resist from advertising women as sexual objects on their products, goods or services.

  • Heanneah .S. Farwenee

    I can support women's economic empowerment globally by solely purchasing goods and services from women, be it in the formal or informal market. Whenever i go to the market (most especially informal market) I walk right to where women are situated. I buy from them and I have made them my regular supply chain for goods or services that I need.

  • Angela Wamola

    In order to empower individuals to make conscious purchasing choices that support women's economic empowerment, companies need to provide their customers with clear and transparent statements on what their value proposition is. In the words of Warren Buffet, "“Price is what you pay, Value is what you get". So the question is, what value is your customer getting in order to know they are supporting women's economic empowerment? I believe that Blake Mycoskie, a member of the B-Team, TOMS company has the right approach and answer. 

    One of the principles which TOMS business lives by, is “Find Your Story”. As a leader and manager of his company, faced by the same challenges which other organizations also experience today, his organization leverages on technology to produce as many shoes as they possibly can.  However, their value proposition to their employees, business partners, customers and the entire ecosystem which includes the media, is their ‘Giving’ business model which Mycoskie articulates intelligibly as “With every pair you purchase, TOMS will give a pair of new shoes to a child in need. One for One.TM”. For his employees faced by fears of retrenchment in an industry where a shoe is just a normal, regular, practical shoe, for his customers faced by a myriad of choices on what shoe they can choose to purchase with their hard-earned and limited purchasing power, Mycoskie inspires his employees and associates to sell and his global customers to buy, by articulating a ‘giving story’ that people can believe in. TOMS company goes a step further towards disseminating information to their customers through their website on the impact of their work. Today, I am able to know how many children have benefited from TOMS shoes and medication preventing hookworm infections, how many maternal healthcare programs have benefited from their contributions, and how many children have benefited from malnutrition aid as a result of their shoe-integrated health screenings. If companies are serious about sustainable women economic empowerment, then they have to incorporate sharing information with their business partners and customers on how their efforts are impacting women, beyond sharing financial profitability statements for their shareholders.

    To assure every company's profitable sustainability,  business leaders have a responsibility to contribute to their triple bottom line through such stories that speak to the heart of the communities they consider their marketplace for provision of products or services. This is the only way that collectively, both companies and individuals can consciously choose to value over price when make a purchase. I support the B-Team initiative and it is my hope that other organizations will follow suit and commit to take action in being clear and transparent on how they products and services contribute to women's economic empowerment.

  • Robert Michira Oichi

    When buying from companies that support gender equality, we need to share that information with everyone else by recommending their products/services.

    Companies need to give ladies more opportunities to them and encouraging them to apply for managerial positions as long as they meet minimum qualifications.

    Organizations need to formulate policies that give 50% of positions to women. Women need to be given flexible shifts that allow them to balance their work, education and family.

  • Sejin Sasha Seo

    1. Absolutely Yes, our own purchases could support women`s economic empowerment globally. According to the economics of consumption, Economy and consumption go round and round. the more we spend, the more economy runs well. Of course It always makes good and bad but at least It could create job opportunities and then it brings each families more money as far as we can control our consumption.  So, If we purchase right product of right companies, It will bring more positive outcome and eventually it will help woemn`s economic empowerment globally

    2. I think this question may have very similar answer but maybe this answer could be very obvious. I have been working as a HR Manager at MNCs more than 13 years and recruit more than thousand of people.  I am also Mother of 4 years of boy and got back to work 3 months later after delivery not to make my desk away forever, which means to maintain my work after giving birth.  Having Job means Women can be independent from other obstacles for living and this is one of the most important reason why Women needs a Job for women`s economic empowerment globally.

    To give women a chance to work,  Companies must not discriminate women when they recruit employees and have to train employee about Gender equality.  We can take a difference role between women and men because we obtained some differences naturally such as Men is physically stronger than most of women. However, we must not take a difference regarding on our opportunities.  Also, Company needs to promote more women as a Board Members (Directors)  so giving women a chance to show we can do it or maybe we can even do better.

    We are Women but prior to be Women, We all have Mothers and we are mother of someone.

    3.  In my opinion, Companies may need to put the Number of percentile of Women employee in their total employee number at the box or cases of purchasing items. This sounds may be strange but most of food we buy at the market shows nutrients of each food and customers loot at them carefully before purchasing them.  At least the company items which women can make or contribute without any problems put their women employee statues or any good policy for women, I think it will definitely helpful for our purpose.

  • Bernadette Mwanzia

    1. Personally when I go to the market I deliberately purchase from women unless the store doesn’t have any women sellers. I have and still continue to create awareness among my family members, friends and colleagues on the need to purchase from women. This is so because supporting women is a kin to supporting the entire society by the virtue of women being the family caretakers, financial pressures bear down on them. It is imperative to   ensure we empower them economically in both small and big ways in order to change their living standards.

    2. It is the responsibility of companies to provide safe and dignified working conditions, decent medical health cover that will ensure workers particularly women are well taken care of and do not divert their wages/salary to medical expenses because most women take up the role of family caretakers and play a significant role in providing food and other basic needs for the family especially in instances where men shun their responsibilities.  More importantly companies must enact policies that promote women’s rights to ensure women are not sexually harassed/ discriminated against by their male counterparts at work. Companies must endeavor to create a level playing field for both men and women workers. Women should be entitled to maternity  leave pay without discrimination because quite a number  of companies may shy away from employing women because of the fear of having to meet extra expenses of recruiting additional staff to replace women on maternity leave. Companies ought to support technical training for women with aim of enhancing their prospects of improving their social and economic status. I believe that when workers feel appreciated, they will put their all into work for the benefit of the company and this will consequently lead to increased profits and better remuneration thus a win win scenario for both company and women employees who will have more money in their pockets and improved purchasing power. Women in slums face specific constraints such as peripheral location which preclude access to markets and competition among women in similar situations who may only have scope to engage in a narrow range of business activities.  The challenges   limit their ability to develop informal income generating options. There is a growing need for companies to support the less privileged women in the society through the Corporate Social Responsibility by setting up empowerment centers for business incubation and running group and social enterprises to empower the women both socially and economically.

     3. What tools can companies use to evaluate their gender-responsive policies and programmes and how can this information best be disseminated to consumers?

    Companies should come up with guiding principles for ensuring their programmes are gender responsive and incorporate the following;

    • Programmes/operations should be geared towards removing barriers that discriminate against women/violate their rights
    • Effectiveness-supporting women empowerment should be commensurate with needs to ensure policies the company enacts are effective in reducing gender gaps.
    • Coherent and transformative - companies must create an enabling environment for the realization of women’s rights and gender equality
    • Evaluate and report on results of interventions made to assess whether intervention have been effective in addressing women’s economic empowerment.
  • Renu Ghimire

    1. How do you think your own purchase could support women's economic empowerment globally?

    I can personally contribute to support women's economic empowerment globally by making an informed decision about my purchases most visibly by rejecting to purchase goods from the companies which do not promote gender friendly policies in their companies. At a more wider level, I can campaign for the rejection of goods that are produced by companies that violate the laws of the land, specifically relating to women empowerment, by the people of my community at large by writing blogs and using social media for the same to name a few.

    2. What role do you think companies should play in contributing to women's economic empowerment?

    I think companies can best contribute to women's economic empowerment by promoting gender equality at workplace. I would like to borrow the strategies forwarded by Helena Trachsel , Head of the Office for the Equality of Men and Women of the Canton of Zurich , for the achievement of gender equality at workplace:

    1. Rethink job interviews. The question: “What do you think your salary should be?” should be abolished altogether, as women consistently ask for less than men. Instead, interviewers should provide a fair and transparent salary range and ask applicants to position themselves within it.

    2. Make gender equality part of training and education. Young people should be supported in choosing jobs that are future-oriented and promising, regardless of their gender.

    3. Be proactive about welcoming women. Companies should clearly state that they want to hire, support and promote women. Salaries and promotions should be monitored and evaluated on a regular basis to ensure equal treatment.

    4. Make flexibility and work-life balance a part of the wider company culture. Too often, employees have to specifically ask to work part-time or work from home, which can be awkward. Companies should instead offer a broad range of different options.

    5. Don’t limit your talent pool. Companies should aim for a 50-50 gender split in all their teams – right up to the executive floor. Offering practical support such as childcare, is part of this, as is the right attitude. It should not be a career killer for a man to ask for extended leave because he wants to look after his children.

    6. Use the power of networking. Networking, mentoring and coaching opportunities can help women build confidence and develop their careers.

    I agree with Thabo in that the companies should integrate Women Empowerment Principles in their business models for the economic empowerment of women.

    3. What tools can companies use to evaluate their gender-responsive policies and programmes and how can this information best be disseminated to consumers?

    I think companies can evaluate their gender responsive policies by indicators or benchmarks for the due diligence obligation that the companies have. They can disseminate the information to the consumers by pasting a sticker mentioning that the product at the hands of the consumer is produced devising gender responsive policies and has passed through the due diligence test.

  • Thabo Mubukwanu

    I'll start by saying knowledge is key. A lot of people aren't aware of how business, production of goods and services affects women's employment and living conditions. So putting this information in the media and educational curriculums will be a step in the right direction.

    1. By purchasing from socially conscious companies that support women I have the power to determine whether my money goes into making my community and the world at large a better place. Studies have shown that placing resources in the hands of women has a multiplier or "ripple" effect. They invest in children's education, health and nutrition for their families. Rather than spend $1 at a company that produces goods in sweatshops, I can spend it at a company that empowers women by including them at every level of their supply chain. I will know that with every purchase a woman somewhere can have a dignified life. 

    2. Companies need to take responsibility for integrating women empowerment principles into their business models. They can 
    - create equal opportunities for women producers 
    - pay women workers a fair wage for their work
    - allow women (and men) to have a healthy work/life balance without sacrificing their careers
    - encourage women to take up leadership roles by creating a non-discriminatory environment
    - support and engage with non-profits that empower women

    3. By integrating gender-responsive policies into their accountability systems they can keep track of their results. Think about how much profit you make year over year as well as how many women are part of your supply chain. I think using an index that measures various aspects of women empowerment would be a great idea for all companies.

     

     

  • Badejoko Fabamise

    3. What tools can companies use to evaluate their gender-responsive policies and programmes and how can this information best be disseminated to consumers?

    With consumers’ greater education and sophistication, they are increasingly becoming aware of how to demand for their rights and power - rights to safety, information, choice and hearing, unlike in the past. Companies can improve customer contact through better point-of-sale materials, consumer educational programmes on social media. Companies can also set up informative websites, have a consumer complaints tool, toll free telephone lines where consumer complaints can be received; and have reliable emails replying promptly to emails and text messages or through retail personnel who are properly trained and educated.  Companies can establish an advisory committee of consumers who will have a real voice in company decisions and deliberate and continuing consultation with such consumer representatives in order to get in advance what will best meet consumers’ needs. The aim should not be to satisfy the minimum standards required by the law but rather to go as far as is practicable.

  • Badejoko Fabamise

    2. What role do you think companies should play in contributing to women’s economic empowerment globally?

    As Nigeria gets more industrialized, health, marketing and safety problems will continue to increase and the gender responsive demands on firms will become greater. Companies need to identify the most relevant social causes to their business that will impact on WEE. One component is the expectation consumers have of specific brands, but a more fundamental question is ‘which causes are most important to socially-conscious consumers?’ Also, companies should base their policies and practices on a desire to fulfill the customers’ needs and ensure its corporate consumer affairs division (if existimg) incorporates initiatives for women economic empowerment in all corporate decisions that have consumer implications such as research and design, advertising, credit, pricing, quality assurance, etc. Companies should also identify corporate practices that are perceived as anti-gender and educate channel and distribution members on the need for a consumerism effort throughout the channel system.

  • Badejoko Fabamise

    Many problems in Nigeria are caused at least in part, by the consumer’s own ineptness, ignorance or reluctance to put forward the effort required to make informed buying decisions. As a woman, being educated has greatly influenced all my choices, attitude and decisions in life. Therefore, I will be more adept and careful in purchasing items that are ethically sourced, as well as educate my household to be socially conscious consumers and possibly make choices to support women. As a matter of principle, I naturally do not buy products with completely misleading and untrue advertising claims; or products whose adverts or brand ambassadors portray women as sex objects or weaker sex. Also, I refrain from those with inadequate product information or inexplicit labeling details, and deceptive selling practices, all of which will lead to clear-cut abuses and infringement upon the rights of women. I also go for brands that have implemented programs to give back to society via supporting women empowerment causes or other women-related causes like girl child education, safe motherhood, etc. such as Unilever. (http://www.unilevernigeria.com/aboutus/newsandmedia/news/WEP_Restores_Pride.aspx

     

  • Chiara Bellani

    I think that this is an issue that is not fully covered internationally. This initiative is indeed a good way to raise awareness about the topic. I am not an expert but I don't think it is so easy to identify the companies that are supporting gender-responsive policies. We would need a more accessible way that may lead us to shop more responsibly. In western society it is easy to shop "bad" when the goods you need are the cheapest around. We should start realizing that cheap doesn't mean good. Cheap means sweatshops and exploitation of people in general, and women and kids in particular. 

    So thanks Empower Women for speaking up about this issue.

  • Michel Choto

    2.What role do you think companies should play in contributing to women's economic empowerment globally?

    In South Africa there is Affirmative Action which gives women preference for certain positions inorder to have a gender balance in the company, this is one way in which companies can contribute to WEE. Whilst is it not mandatory to give paid maternity leave to employees most companies do so that they can become an Employer of Choice. Companies should have a paid maternity leave policy so as to attract female talent as well as to be an Employer of Choice. 

    3.What tools can companies use to evaluate their gender-responsive policies and programmes and how can this information best be disseminated to consumers?

    Companies should participate in "Top Employers of Choice" survey's which are completed by employees and have specific questions on the survey regarding its gender-responsive programmes. The results should be published in newspapers and TV so that consumers can also be aware of how the company is rated. This results can also be published on the company's website so that customers are aware and will chose to do business with them so as to contribute to WEE.

     

     

  • Teresa Abila

    A company that fosters gender diversity is a formidable force for positive change and that by integrating women's empowerment into their corporate strategy,business can complement and enhance the work done by governments and NGOs.

    Indeed,women touch every aspect of business since they're influential consumers of goods and services and their spending habits greatly affect consumer trends for their family welfare.Therefore a good place for companies to start with  is the Women Empowerment Principles(WEPs).The WEPs provide tools and resources for businesses seeking a corporate strategy and signing WEPs is one way of demonstrating commitment to gender equality.WEPs also serve as a community of best practices for businesses and other stakeholders working on women's empowerment to share challenges and successes.

    A company can be gender responsive by;

    • Redesigning the future of business around parenting for both mothers and fathers with equal pay.
    • Establishing company wide goals and targets for gender equality and include progress as a factor in Manager's performance review.
    • Ensuring all policies are gender sensitive.This is by identifying factors that impact women and men differently and that corporate culture advances equality and inclusion.
    • Promoting decent and empowering jobs for women throughout their value chain.
    • Designing products and services that addresses women's unique needs.

    Working with both internal and external stakeholders in the development of company policies,programmes and implementation plans that advance equality will help in disseminating information to the consumers.External stakeholders can use channels as conferences,social media,print media,websites,posters,journals etc to convey progress on gender equality and shared opportunity of the companies.

  • Gladys Muthara

    I think proper purchase decisions would help in ensuring that I support women economic empowerment through the purchases I make. For instance; while buying art & craft items; I should buy directly from women who sell the items in their own shops rather than from big supermarkets which often exploit the poor women in order to make large profits. I should buy more products which are produced by women, especially women who are trying to economically empower themselves from the scratch. For instance; buying groceries from grocery shops operated by women rather than from supermarkets.

    I should also buy products from companies that go the extra mile to support their female employees by giving them enough maternity leave, nurseries for their babies to stay in while the mothers work etc; such companies definitely care about their female employee’s health and supports them to be productive, hence, be economically empowered.

    Education: Enabling their female employees to attain higher education through loans, grants, and study leaves. The companies should also be keen on the personal and professional development of their female employees.

    Employee welfare: Ensure they pay the women appropriately and without gender bias, provide health-insurance and compulsory checkups, provide enough maternity leave, and provide nurseries where their babies can be taken care of, at work, as mothers work.

    Purchase decisions of raw-materials and other products: Companies can choose to support women when buying raw-materials and other resources they need in production.

    Opportunities of leadership and decision-making: Companies should ensure that they give their female employees a chance in leadership positions and involve them in decision-making.

    Profit-making companies can support organizations that are working towards achievement of women economic empowerment globally by donating funds to them. Such companies can also make commitment to ‘Call to Actions’ to economically empower women.

  • Mary Achieng

    Currently i only purchase what i like, just like many  my purchase also goes with my budget and what is priority to me. A clear mark on products that support women empowerment will make me purchase such product  where by i can as well promote such product to fellow women, women tend to use a variety of products if companies can reduce prices of  products which are directly targeting women (beauty products) for a start and the where companies get to channel such to a women empowerment kitty, these companies can as well provide activities that target families of their employees, provide incentives to female workers who get to meet targets set, increase women capacity through trainings to enhance their growth in career, they can as well promote women by adopting and committing to women empowerment in their company service regulations in addition they can provide basic health  services to women on quarterly basis if its favorable. The tools companies can use to evaluate their gender responsive policies and programmes will be based on the impact of how women get to stay in the company as workers, how products are consumed and how they get to respond to the suggestions and concerns of the consumer. The use of local structures, government institutions, community organizations will help in dissemination of information. Government should provide a clear framework and implementation should be all inclusive.

  • Mphatso Chapotera

    When i buy products from the companies that are gender responsive i can support the women involved along the value chain of such product. For example, a food company selling fish products can employ women in the processing, at the farm and also women who receive money in the shop. Companies can use consumer surveys to evaluate their gender-responsive policies and programs. The results from the survey can be disseminated through the viral videos, advertisements and using celebrities as ambassadors to promote gender-responsive policies.

  • Bethel Tadesse

    Companies play a huge part in women's economic empowerment. Our own purchases can help support women's economic empowerment by providing the company with funds to support women. This obviously depends on if the companies have gender responsive polices or if they are using this policies effectively.

    Companies should provide the appropriate wage to these women. they should provide training and opportunity for women to grow in the company if they wish to do so. They should provide them with the appropriate steps for them to move up to leading roles in the company i the wish to do so. this can empower the women by giving them the opportunity to move up the ladder and this can also empower the company as they are giving women equal opportunity. 

    Companies can evaluate their gender responsive policies by talking to the women in these companies and seeing how they feel like they have been treated and so on. communication is very important and some thing as simple as having a conversation and putting that in a survey can drastically solve many problems. 

    When they have collected this data they can solve problems and have a better gender responsive policy by answering their questions and so on.

  • Elena del Barrio Álvarez

    Global economy belong growth belong to the society. The society is just I, you, she, he, we, you and they. If you and me started to care about the producers we buy from, then all of us, will change the world, we will contribute to the women´s economics empowerment.

    We just might be using a bit more time on being concerned about any sing of discrimination in the company we buy from (gender gap, decent work conditions and salaries, and any kind of discrimination policy or advertisement promoted by the enterprise).

    If we do so, companies soon will assess themselves in the same direction and will start campaings to facilitate our consumers work. Moreover, right consumenrs organizations may start doing this job for us better. By the time, we will learn a lot by scrutinizing companies by ourselves

  • Roman Girma Teshome
    Companies can have an immense contribution towards women's economic empowerment. They can do this by adopting gender-responsive policies and programmes. First, companies should mainstream gender and women's issues in their work rules and different other activities. Work rules should incorporate and give due consideration for women's unique biological and social makeup. Second, companies should have a specific organ that hear compliant and give solution for problems of women and mainstream gender issues in a every sector of the company. Third, companies should give incentives and support for women and try to create a conducive working environment for women employees. These incentives my involve providing education and training opportunities and involving women in leadership. We can in turn support these companies by making informed purchases. Indeed every purchase matters; we can support women's economic empowerment globally through our choice of products. Buying from companies that are taking positive measures to empower women will help us to contribute indirectly to women's economic empowerment and gender equality. Our purchases can be a good tools to support concepts of women's economic empowerment. Of course the main challenge here is that how do we identify these companies? I think different platforms and systems should be created to inform consumers about these companies. It would be great if neutral bodies disseminate this information so that not to mislead customers with other advertisements.
  • Ana Espinosa

    Being part of a world where corporations are as large as some countries, is an opportunity to lead change. Where corporations are looking to keep costumers engage for them to be more profitable, we as consumers have the power to develop and demand better and fair practices. Because for corporations to be successful the society must be successful to in all the areas and fields they must grant sustainability around and within the areas and communities where they operate, so if we start demanding more fair trades, more safety workplaces, more equal wages and so on, corporations are going to turn into that direction and the only we to do it is through our purchases. In my daily basis, I try to do purchases where they impact or profits is going to be address on a more sustained way, whereas companies that have more social and environmental approaches are the ones that I decide to purchase, also buying locally where little companies and enterprises could support entrepreneurship and economical empowerment, specially if this companies are founded or lead by women and where the mission of them have some meaningful approach besides just creating profits. 

    This being said I believe corporations have a great job to do when it comes to help communities and specially women to be economically empower, addressing gender equality, gender gaps, education for girls, more fair work conditions. making donations, health and sanitary improvement conditions, nutrition matters and so on, but indeed corporations must not only look externally ( outside the corporation itself) but internally where work environment must be fair for both men and women, sexual harassment issues must be avoided and solve, where develop women is part of the agenda, flexible hours and flexible beliefs or even radical actions to break with old beliefs that are not longer applicable, demanding more laws for women to be part of circles and economically represented. 

    Companies need to be aware of salary gaps and address it, also being transparent and share with their stakeholders this number but specially within the company so women could be aware of the differences and speak up,  a hiring policy to address this issue would be also helpful at the same time that the work conditions as part of a feedback system could be implemented so that the way women are being treated on their jobs could be monitor and measure, maternity leaves should be rectified and implemented, gender equality initiatives where they introduce and make women part of the important discussions as well as the executive boards. A gender system should be created for measuring the performance of the company against it so in that way the company over all could be scored and based on that receive a label or certification that could be place on the products/ brands that are meeting up the standards, in this way the system must include their supply chain too because in fact the company could be great with one product but not as good at it with one other. 

     

     

  • L L

    We can support women's economic empowerment globally everyday by making informed purchases. We should not be blinded by brands. We should be vigilant in purchasing items that are ethically sourced. Companies play a substantial role in contributing to women's economic empowerment globally. The supply chain starts with the brainstorming of where to source materials and where the manufacturing takes place. Companies should evaluate their gender-responsive policies and programs by annually revisiting these notions and assessing whether they are up to par and supporting the economy in a responsible manner. 

  • Margaret Ngugi

    Buying things that have been responsibly manufactured is no doubt the best way. However in purchasing, the consumers first need to be educated and there needs to be a signage to notify the consumer of their positive effect in that purchase The idea is to highlight the positive. First of all it begins with the retailer who I think needs an incentive to carry these marked goods from the empowerment endosing manufacturers. We need to start from both ends to make the impact. Incentify the manufacturer by giving them recognition globally for the part they play, The retailer for carrying these goods. For them this is a free form of marketing so they will see the benefit in supporting the empowerment. Meanwhile make the campaign big and have a logo that if any consumer sees, It is testament of an empowerment supporting purchase. Whenever we see the pink ribbon, we think supporting breast cancer, a logo that is worldwidely recognised may make buyer and seller conscious of their efforts. This is my view on how the whole system can work as a whole. For now, as a consumer, I buy women produced goods from developing countries. They are few but once in a while they can be found.

  • Tazeen Dhanani

    I'm currently enrolled in and completing the Foreign Policy Association certificate course online (available on Udemy), and from it, I have learned how our purchases have a direct impact on women's empowerment (or lack thereof) in countries where women contribute to making the garments that we purchase. For example, the Northern Mariana Islands are a U.S. commonwealth--the products that are made there enter the U.S. duty free with the label "Made in the USA." However, U.S. labor laws do not apply there, and for that reason, a significant number of clothing manufacturers operate there. The women who work there are promised jobs and opportunities in America. Working conditions there, much like in other garment factories around the world, are abhorrent--toilets are scarce, hours are incredibly long, ventilation is lacking, barracks are crowded, etc. By day, these women work in the factories for virtually no pay, and by night, they're forced to perform sex acts. If they become pregnant, they're forced to abort the child or risk losing their jobs, leaving them desolate on the island. 

    With that being said, I am personally more aware of how my shopping and spending habits impact workers in the garment industry. We all remember the horrendous factory fire and collapse in Bangladesh in 2012 and 2013, respectively. We all know the awful working conditions that women and children must endure when working in these types of factories. My own purchases can support women around the world when I'm more conscious of what I'm buying, and how/where it was made. 

    I'm passionate about purchasing unique jewelry from women-operated, artisanal vendors from emerging economies around the world, and for this reason, I have purchased several pieces of jewelry on ebay from these vendors. Each piece is beautiful, hand made, and comes with a description of the piece and its creator, and the profits go towards supporting the artisan and her community. 

    Companies should also be cognizant of the working conditions of factory and garment workers where their merchandise is made, and should have the courage and moral responsibility to contribute to the creation, implementation, and enforcement of policies/legislation, where their factories are held to a certain (higher) standard of working conditions for their workers. They should also hire more women, create more opportunities for women to enter into senior-level positions and/or positions of authority, and provide mentorship and training for more girls and women. Lastly, they should provide the means for women to start their own businesses (I really like Avon's entrepreneurial/contractor model). 

    Finally, companies can benchmark their progress by administering surveys on a regular basis to their employees, and noting turnover rates, numbers and percentage of women in management-level or higher roles, professional development opportunities, etc. These findings can be disseminated to consumers through reports such as the report released by LeanIn.org and McKinsey & Co, entitled "Women in the Workplace." 

  • Ekene Onu

    I think my own purchases can go a long way to supporting women's economic empowerment in the following ways. I can educate myself and my household about the need to be conscious consumers and to make choices to support women when possible. For example we use Shea Radiance products and other Shea Butter products and we purchase from companies who purchase from women in West Africa and support the economic growth of those communities and specifically those women.

    Companies can also contribute by making it part of their CSR initiatives to educate, support incubators and more for women particularly in developing countries and consumers can help push this by rewarding those companies that do this. 

    Companies can evaluate gender responsive policies & programmes through 1) Surveying their staff and other stakeholders 2) Tracking the progress of gender responsive hiring practices and promotions and growth opportunities for women.

     

     

     

     

  • Christine Rutherford

    Families and society improves when women gain economic advantage.  Mom told you that life wasn't fair, but why not?  

    My purchases will support companies that have a purpose and since of corporate responsibility.  

    It starts with companies ensuring they have their house in order.  

    A company will advise where they are in their development and report on how they are supporting their entire workforce both men and women to have policies and programmes that engage their employees full potential. 

     

     

  • Sara Davaasambuu

    1. I think I can support women's economic empowerment by NOT purchasing big brand name merchandises.

    2. I am not sure what companies can do except hiring more women. The government should participate here through taxation policy. The government can introduce a policy that encourages women employment e g., companies employed more women would pay less tax.

    3. Tools that evaluate income equality (how much men and women making at a specific company) through survey analysis, how many women are working in decision making positions etc.  

     

  • Nwedobong Okon
    1. Purchasing from a female will enhance her income, increase her chances to compete favorably with male counterparts, feed her family and meet her basic needs thus leaving her in a healthier mental state and that is Empowerment. I actually consciously purchased from a female fish seller yesterday. 2. Companies can play a vital role by showing support for the other roles women have to play by ways of creating incentives that support maternity and by making it possible for women on maternity leave to be able to work online. This would lead to training and equipping more females with ICT skills for periods when they have to work online from home. That's Empowerment that allows a female to explore her full potential. 3. Questionnaire can be administered to employees, managers to evaluate participation in gender responsive policies monthly, quarterly or as deemed suitable. Also, the information can be disseminated to consumers by having a promo regularly where the consumer gets a bonus or discount for every time they purchase female gender friendly products. This will increase awareness and further empower women.
  • Nwedobong Okon
    1. Purchasing from a female will enhance her income, increase her chances to compete favorably with male counterparts, feed her family and meet her basic needs thus leaving her in a healthier mental state and that is Empowerment. I actually consciously purchased from a female fish seller yesterday. 2. Companies can play a vital role by showing support for the other roles women have to play by ways of creating incentives that support maternity and by making it possible for women on maternity leave to be able to work online. This would lead to training and equipping more females with ICT skills for periods when they have to work online from home. That's Empowerment that allows a female to explore her full potential. 3. Questionnaire can be administered to employees, managers to evaluate participation in gender responsive policies monthly, quarterly or as deemed suitable. Also, the information can be disseminated to consumers by having a promo regularly where the consumer gets a bonus or discount for every time they purchase female gender friendly products. This will increase awareness and further empower women.
  • Catherine wachu

    Hello,

    My own or individual purchase would support women's economic empowerment globally, If we purchased items in companies that are gender sensitive, how else we could support women's economic empowerment could be by identifying where to buy the goods we want or seek services we want from vendors made up of women groups examples bread or the likes from a women formed group, or vegetable vendors, provide cleaning services

    Companies can incorporate policies that support women .i.e. sensible maternal leave, offer day care services, offer to train their nannies  and provide equal opportunities and chances for development

    Companies  can carry out open surveys and involve customers actively as tools to evaluate their gender responsive policies. This could likely earn them the consumers support.

    Every single purchase matters.      

  • Pooja Lama

    How do you think your own purchases could support women’s economic empowerment globally?

    Every single penny matters. We can buy the products which support equal wage for women who work for them. We can make people aware about the products which come to market as a result of unequal treatment to women labours so that they will stop buying those products. Promote women's entrepreneurship.

  • Maria Cristina Rondon Galeano

    The statistics are appalling to say the least. At this point, we are not even taking into account the way the numbers look in poorer countries.

    In countries where people do not earn much money, the purchasing power is not high, the consumers really do not care where the products come from, in other words, the cheaper the better and “who cares?”

    At the same time, women in those places only care about bringing bread to the table so they will sell their services at any rate, also because there are not many positions hence you count yourself “lucky” for having an income (any kind).

    The way I see it, big companies and their franchises are always in the eye of the hurricane, hence it is easy to look up into their policies and dig out their shortcomings. Now, the issue seems to be the small to medium companies, usually own by locals that do not care about exploiting their own people, and unfortunately women always fall first, due to vulnerability and family pressure even if it is not intentional.

    How can we help in those cases? The way this problem can be addressed is from the top, as soon as companies, big or small, are demanded by the government (or any other kind of higher-up institution) to have gender-inclusive policies, and get punished in any form if they do not abide by it, then we will have a plausible way out of it.

    On the other hand, I do find quite hard to follow up into the “real” application of these policies, everything looks quite good in paper and it is really easy to make-believe that changes are happening, the problem it is not to support companies that say to be gender-inclusive, the real problem is to make sure that those needs are met fully.

    In order to contribute to the conversations here are my opinions on the specific matters: 

  • Maria Cristina Rondon Galeano

    How do you think your own purchases could support women’s economic empowerment globally?

    Women purchasing power is very high in general, the quicker you win a woman's purchasing power the better for your business.

    In the big scheme of things, supporting or buying from companies with gender-inclusive practices, is the way to go. Nowadays, you see how people influence other's people actions, the moment we all promote those companies and call off the ones that are not meeting those practices, the market is going to slow down and they HAVE to do something about it. I think at this time and age turning the boat is a tweet away, we can all make it happen.

    At the same time, the global market can also turn due to local markets, following the happenings in our community, by having breakfast at the local coffee shop instead of the big coffee franchise we will be most likely supporting a woman to pursue her dream, and this is much easy to follow than what happens inside a big company that has its doors closed and has a big PR company helping them to battle the public.

    The main reason why people stop working on their own dreams is because everyone follows the big brands, the small competitors are left aside. Market monopolization affects everyone, they have most of the customers and most of the suppliers and the way they make money is by putting a product on their shelves, and exploiting both parts of the deal.

    What role do you think companies should play in contributing to women’s economic empowerment globally?

    I do believe that companies have to be proactive, not only product–selling companies but, in general, every single organization, it is as simple as double checking their networks and excluding companies that do not have gender-inclusive policies, that would make the difference. It is very easy, but at the same time is very hard if there is no one inside those organisations to raise concerns, pretty much it becomes a vicious cycle. 

    Here is where our participation is crucial when gender inclusion is not happening we have to voice it out, the quicker the issue in on the table the better for everyone involved. The push and has to come from every side of the equation to make the difference.

    What tools can companies use to evaluate their gender-responsive policies and programmes and how can this information best be disseminated to consumers?

    Statistics is the best tool that can help companies. I do not think that surveys do give real answers, in my opinion, they give a good approximate of what the real situation is, and that is only the tip of the iceberg, in any case well-used surveys can be a great tool. An annual report is always a good venue for costumers to find information, I think it is much better when this reports happening on a regular basis, constant and consistent evaluation is a way to improve a determined situation, certainly not the only way. Any means that show companies commitment with strategies and policies will/can find its way to the public; marketing, labeling, campaigning, etc. 

    On that note, I have to say that I find really difficult to come across these type of information, there are not many places where it is readily available for the public. I think I do a good job inquiring and asking about the policies in different companies, but I do need some help with the very first question of this post: How do we know which companies are actually supporting these principles effectively? And I think the keywords here are “actually” and “effectively” Any help?

  • Jimena Solar

    I consider myself as a well-informed consumer, so I am conscious my selection and acquisition of products have an economic impact then I try to make the best choices based on quality and sustainable standards. In that sense, I carefully review the information related to products and try to choice those from women enterprises, and also I recommend them through my personal and professional network to help them to consolidate their market position and to attain higher profits.

    From my perspective, companies should play a principal role in women’s economic empowerment because a large proportion of trade is intrafirm and involved developing countries exporting manufactured goods and services. Therefore, they are continuously involved in negotiations and business relation with global providers. Women and women enterprises should become part of those negotiations to be more integrated in the international trade.

    Companies display corporate social responsibility initiatives such as certification schemes to enhance women in local and international economic relations. They should disseminate this information through the labeling and packaging of products, but also media networks.

  • Jimena Solar

    Dear all,

    Following the discussions, I would like to share the below comments: 

    1. How do you think your own purchases could support women’s economic empowerment globally?

    I consider myself as a well-informed consumer, so I am conscious my selection and acquisition of products and services have an economic impact then I try to make the best choices based on quality and sustainable standards.

    In that sense, I carefully review the information related to products and services and try to choice those from women enterprises located in developing countries, and also I recommend them through my personal and professional network in order to help these women enterprises to establish or consolidate their market position and to attain higher profits.

    2. What role do you think companies should play in contributing to women’s economic empowerment globally?

    From my perspective, companies should play a principal role in women’s economic empowerment because as it is known a large proportion of trade is intrafirm and involved developing countries exporting manufactured goods and services.

    Therefore, firms in particular large trading firms are continuously involved in negotiations and business relation with global providers in order to trade several products and services. Certainly, women and women enterprises should become part of those negotiations and business relations to become part of the value added chain and to be more integrated in the international trade.

    Under this scheme, Governments should provide appropriate legal frameworks that ensure a balance between global product markets and national labour markets, in particular, those regulations applying to women workers.

    3. What tools can companies use to evaluate their gender-responsive policies and programmes and how can this information best be disseminated to consumers?

    In order to evaluate gender-responsive policies, companies use indicators that show the number of women workers and those occupying leading positions, but also display corporate social responsibility initiatives such as certification schemes that should enhance women in local and international economic relations.

    Firms should disseminated this information through labeling and packaging of products, but also through media networks in order than consumers could be aware how their initiatives for women economic empowerment haven been reshaped the business sector.

  • Ushree Roy

    1. Organizations want to maximize their profit, so I think our purchase decision is definitely going to affect the organization and that way we can influence a organizations' gender policy. There is a need to create awareness so that people understand how their purchase matters and their role in influencing organizational policy. 

    2. To promote women's economic empowerment globally, companies should introduce the policy of equal pay, promotion and zero discrimination. Moreover, companies can introduce flexible working hours, child care facilities, maternal leave etc. 

    3. Companies need to understand that whether organizations are really successful in their gender responsive policy. For that organizations can check whether women are comfortable working there, how effectively the organization dealt with any issues related to violence and discrimination. Organizations can also measure the percentage of women joined their organization in a particular time,  rate of women who left their job, reasons for leaving the job, how happy existing employees are about their role etc. 

  • Fasiha Farrukh

    As there are companies which are supporting the gender equality and women empowerment, we know that whatever we are going to purchase from them, it will be utilized in the betterment of those women.

    Likewise, there are many ventures run by women and they are creating products, although, with the less quality,but they are trying up to some extent to make their place in the market. We need to make sure that we are making purchases from such women and try to buy in the proposed prices if we can afford. 

    There are many companies, which reach to the women workers in the rural areas and getting their crafted products in to the urban markets. They claim that they are paying the fair share of price to those workers who are working so hard and creating these handmade or any other sort of products for the buyers. Even those companies are not paying fully to the workers and they are lacking in finances. This causes problem with the financials of those women worker because they are not reaching directly to the potential buyers. 

    I think for improving the women's economic empowerment, there should be the mechanism through which these women could get direct access to the markets and the buyers could reach them easily. In more idealistic ways, the middle party/company/agent would give fair share of prices to these women. 

     

    At first, the companies must take a look that what is salary check of both male and female is in their firm? They must do measures to fill that gap, then. Obviously, a woman is working in the same hours as the other person is doing in the firm, then why is she paid less? the companies need to introduce the Salary Audit system to overcome the gender pay gap because this is the foremost obstacle that women faces and that is why, most of the women refuses to work as well as they are not getting the right pay. 

    On the second hand, companies must look into the hiring policy. What is the ratio of women to men in their company as a worker? How many men have been hired in the company in last six months and if there arent any women hired, then why not? Getting the figures of number of women and men working in a company is needed to be considered as well when we are talking about gender equality. When women will not be hired, then how are we supposed to empower them economically?

    When companies release their annual reports,,they are telling inside story and performance to the stakeholders. There is a time when companies must include their gender- responsive programs and policies to all the stakeholders in their annual reports. When the world is taking the gender issues so seriously, then this change could be a pressurizing point to make companies going towards the adaptation of fair policies for women's economic empowerment. 

     

     

     

  • Pam Odudoh

    1. How do you think your own purchases could support women’s economic empowerment globally? 

    Checking product labels, the most common one being the Fairtrade labels that contribute to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to marginalized producers and workers in developing countries, most of who are women. Even though these labels are not proof of a product’s performance, but at least they inform the consumer/buyer that fair trade practices were used in their production.

    It would be great if the certification companies could introduce globally recognized labels to show certification of products that support women’s economic empowerment at whatever stage of their production and supply chain cycle to assist consumers/buyers who are keen on supporting women’s economic empowerment globally.

    The verification of women owned businesses is difficult; therefore women economic empowerment has higher chances of being achieved when own purchases are made from locally produced products or services. It is easier to verify when the local production and supply chain is known to the buyer and tracing back through the supply chain is at least possible.

    2. What role do you think companies should play in contributing to women’s economic empowerment globally?

    Programs such as purchase for progress, an initiative of the World Food Program (WFP) help aid women’s economic development by increasing incomes and livelihoods for participating smallholder/low income farmers, the majority of whom are women. Companies may introduce sustainability and ethical factors into bidding documents in favor of women SME’s and Women Owned Businesses. However, it is also important to ensure that proper verification procedures are in place so that companies award tenders to Women SMEs and Women owned business that actually get into the grassroots of the women’s economic empowerment.

    Companies should periodically reassess the supply market for Women Owned Businesses and SMEs since the criteria to assess Women Owned Businesses and SMEs are rapidly evolving and different in certain geographical areas and industries.

    3. What tools can companies use to evaluate their gender-responsive policies and programmes and how can this information best be disseminated to consumers?

    Many tools have been introduced from the gender responsive budgeting tools through to gender responsive evaluations. Companies should include gender in all aspects of their operations to ensure that gender responsive policies are disseminated to their consumers. Another informative and effective way especially for publicly traded companies would be inclusion of gender-responsive results and performance in their annual financial statements.

  • Swati Vempati

    This is a complex issue not just because it is difficult for consumers to monitor it but also because it touches upon various other issues of human rights, gender discrimination, child labour, market dynamics, supply chain economics. In various parts of the world including India, giants like Pepsi, Coca Cola, Nestle, Gap, Apple, Walmart are known to have oppressive working conditions, lack of safety measures, very low wages in their or their suppliers' factories. (An article about this issue: http://www.laborrights.org/in-the-news/14-worst-corporate-evildoers). Many of these conditions come to the fore only when there is an accident, in other words, there is a lack of information.

    On the consumer side, many prefer to buy products which are cheap. And in order to keep their profitsskyhigh, companies compromise on the wages and benefits to the lower classes of employees or turn blind eye to supplier's employees (most of whom are contractual so enjoy no benefits). Also, companies use such initiatives to charge premium e.g. organic products. Hence it creates a bit of moral dilemma because I want to buy products which are ethically manufactured but at the same time, I don't want to shell out too much money when the substitute is much much cheaper. And this becomes a non-issue for poor/ middle class who are more price sensitive.

    Apart from those mentioned before me, I would suggest to buy from local cooperatives/stores where women own the enterprises and have transparent practices or from NGOs/ Govt stores supporting women initiatives/ entrepreneurs, buy from companies which are positively impacting community/ women through their business or CSR practices, absolutely stop buying from violator companies even if they produce cheap products and create awareness about their human rights violations.

    Companies should monitor the working conditions of their factories and of their suppliers and report on it, entrust its own regional employees to monitor the activities on a rolling basis, encourage women to apply for variety of roles, ensure promotion of women to higher offices, establish payment slabs for different work positions, ensure working hours are followed, provide creche facilities, conduct random inspections to ensure safety measures are followed. Consumers, civil society organisations and Govt. should build pressure on companies to comply on this. A gender commitment mark like the recyclable mark can be used to showcase companies' commitment. An international watch dog by UN or any international NGO can also be established to monitor and report. Public shaming of violators, though extreme, might discourage other companies.

    This needs to be a top down approach. Connect/ partner with experts to build on a gender responsive framework for its various departments and understand its impact on various stakeholders. The board or management should include this as part of their company's report card and regularly monitor the various parameters. 

  • Hala Bugaighis

    1. How do you think your own purchases could support women’s economic empowerment globally? 

     The power of customers or buyers in changing the market is undoubtedly an invincible force; it's actually one of Porter's five forces to determine the market strategy. Customers have the power to bargain and change the market to meet its needs and demands, and hence the supporters of WEE has a strong power to enforce the change of the current economic culture to an environment that respects gender equality, promoting companies that adopting policies or strategies that promote these principals will eventually lead to divert and change the market as I said above.

    2. What role do you think companies should play in contributing to women’s economic empowerment globally?

    They can assist in many ways… 1) they lead by example. This can be achieved by contributing to make the change in corporate culture by adopting policies and rules that encourage women economic empowerment. 2) They can contribute by CSR projects (for large companies indeed) that promoting this concept, either by directly initiating projects to promote this or ensure that all projects includes the concept of women inclusion and empowering 3) also companies should provide training and coaching programs to women to be part of the economic growth  

    3. What tools can companies use to evaluate their gender-responsive policies and programmes and how can this information best be disseminated to consumers?

    1) Ensure that fulfillment of these polices is part of their companies annual goals and strategy e.g.   (Balance scored card) system.

    2) Use the gender assessment tools that provided by many organizations and show the results in their audited Annual financial report.

    3) Cooperate with respective civil society organizations, media and governmental bodies to ensure monitor and evaluation of their performances  

     

  • Lolita Taub

    "With 85 to 90 percent of sweatshop workers being women and only 11 percent of US companies providing formal paid familial leave to employees, companies play a huge role in the economic empowerment of women all over the world." These numbers are appalling. We must make an effort to make the world more humane, equal, and just! Below are 3 suggestions to address the situation:

    A1. We must purchase from companies that have ethical practices to support ethical practices and women economic empowerment globally.

    Our purchases have power. If we buy, we're signaling to companies that we like what they are doing (and that we want them to continue doing what their doing). If we don't buy, we're telling companies we do not like what they are doing (and that we want them to change, otherwise they cannot have our money). Companies like when we shop and spend our money with them. So, they will do what they need to do in order to keep us buying.

    Use your purchase power to signal to companies to do the right thing. Purchase from companies who are doing the right thing. Do not purchase from companies that are unethical. The unethical will either eventually disappear - if they choose not to change - or change to keep profitable. Whatever their incentive, let's make sure we push companies to an ethical path.

    We can do this! We can improve sweatshop conditions this way and more with the power of our purchases, out money! We can help empower women through the purchases we make.

     

    A2. We must make it socially unacceptable for companies not to have women empowerment initiatives. We must ask companies to have dedicated programs for women empowerment. We must invest in women - half of the population. We must push for all companies to invest in the future - to invest in women! 

    A3. In order to evaluate gender-responsive policies and programs, we must demand from companies to execute on consistent company equality audits and invest in programs that keeps an ear on the ground - making sure that they are just, equal, and empowering women. 

    Companies need to invest in women empowerment initiatives, track their process, share their progress, and keep working on the cause of equality. It would be wise for companies to use technology to assist. Companies need to consider using technologies such as Glassbreakers.co (a software that allows for women empowerment via mentorship, tracks progress, and keeps an open conversation on creating environments of women growth, promotion, and empowerment).

  • Olipa Phiri

    What tools can companies use to evaluate their gender-responsive policies and programmes and how can this information best be disseminated to consumers?

    This is a good question because I think it is time to move from awareness rising to empowering company officials with concrete tools and practical support to evaluate their gender-responsive policies and programmes.

    The Commonwealth Secretariat's 'Engendering budgets' programme is currently piloting 'in-government' national-level gender budget initiatives in South Africa, Sri Lanka and Barbadosh http://www.atria.nl/epublications/2000/emerging_issues_in_gender.pdf.  An example evaluation tools that can be adapted to companies from this programme is the Gender Responsive Budget (GRB). The GBR is a name for a variety of processes that aim to assess the impact of company budgets, on different groups of men and women, through recognising the ways in which gender underpin society and the economy. These exercises are not separate budgets for women but include analysis of gender targeted allocations on special programmes targeting women across all sectors and services. Thereby provides a platform for officials to review equal opportunities policies and allocations.

    From discussions with men and women in my community on how best to disseminate this information to consumers, what comes out clearly is that the use of companies’ social media and advertisement can play an important role. In addition, this is an opening for creation of Women economic empowerment logo or a sticker to be carried by products and services that support implement gender responsive policies and programmes can be a necessary innovation. This process can be a global initiative but facilitated by consumer boards in respective countries.  

  • Shaheera Jalil Albasit

    1. How do you think your own purchases could support women’s economic empowerment globally?
    I will be particularly interested in supporting women-led enterprises and independent women entrepreneurs through my purchases. I will also prefer to do a market search to be able to identify companies and brands which are led by women in terms of involving women throughout their organizational hierarchy, to buy from. I will be interested in accessing CSR Profiles and Employee Policies (those accessible via company websites and local offices) to assess how open and accommodating the company is in terms of reporting on gender-based workplace harassment and discrimination, and to assess the company's stance on paid familial leaves, gender-blind recruitment, pay gaps and / or the economic empowerment of women. When I ensure that I access this information before identifying brands / companies that I choose to regularly buy from, I will be in a position to make informed consumer choices and support WEE in the process.

    2. What role do you think companies should play in contributing to women’s economic empowerment globally? AND 3. What tools can companies use to evaluate their gender-responsive policies and programmes and how can this information best be disseminated to consumers?

    Companies must ensure open-ness and responsiveness in their consumer interactions. There should be greater focus on broadening the outreach of their CSR messages to the general public which may or may not include their consumers. For companies which are operating globally, the responsibility increases and so does their potential to contribute to WEE. Adverts and marketing strategies must be sensitive to local gender contexts while effectively getting the WEE message across without compromising on the cause in view of the risk that the message may not be received rightly given the local nature of perceptions and views. It is also essential that companies adopt a vigorous feedback mechanism involving social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to mobilize online opinions from within local and global markets. Feedback reports must be made public through these social media platforms and on the company's website and local offices.

  • Shaheera Jalil Albasit

    Initiating these discussions about buying power is fairly important because these discussions have the potential to construct consumer conscience and inform consumer choices in the process. Consumers generally tend to overlook the concept that each purchase they make, especially the purchases they make from within established markets which circulate branded selling items from established corporations, carries a sufficient amount of potential to influence how corporate power-houses, business startups and even entire open markets prioritize gender issues and issues including the economic empowerment of women, pay gap, paid familial leaves.

    For corporations to be urged to re-define their priorities in this context, it is important for their consumers to press for recognition of these issues and for reforms. And the most profound way consumers can collectively determine what choices their preferred brands are making through their policies, is via conveying this message through their buying choices.

  • Michel Choto

    1.How do you think your own purchase could support women's economic empowerment globally?

    Instead of buying from big multinational companies we should support women owned businesses or enterprises by making a conscious decision of buying from them.Speaking for myself, i love the African print fabrics, the handmade beaded sandals and bags that are made by women and sold on open markets. My husband travels alot through out Africa, and i always insist that he brings me back one of these items as opposed to a perfume of chocolates. I treasure these items and alot of people who see me like the way i dress and have also asked me to re-sell to them. Therefore i make sure that when my husband travels he brings back some African fabrics for me to sell to my friends and other women at church thereby supporting the women who produce and sell these fabrics. My main suppliers are the women who sell at the COMESA(common market for Eastern & Southern African ) market in Zambia, this is where traders from Eastern & Southern Africa come to sell their products and mostly women. I also have a lady friend of mine who is a seamstress who makes the outfits for me from the same fabrics, i have also referred many other people to her, who have liked my dresses after seeing me. Instead of buying from the big shops, i prefer to be original and make my own clothes thereby also supporting women owned business. 

  • Ilinca Vasiliu

    According to a new study by Nielsen, fifty-five percent of global online consumers across 60 countries stated that they would pay more for products or services offered by companies who are committed to positive social and environmental impact. In the same study, it was discovered that individuals ages 21-34 years old are more responsive to sustainability, representing half of those whom participated in the study. 

    Consequently, women and those who are socially disadvantaged aren't the only ones to benefit from companies enhancing gender-responsive policies. If the study is something to go by, companies should aim to include gender responsive and generally socially positive policies within the core values in order to increase their profits. 

    One method for consumers to check if companies are committed to being socially responsible, as is also outlined by the study, is by looking at the packaging. Therefore, companies could begin promoting their gender responsive nature alongside commitment to the environment by creatively promoting on its packaging. I believe that in today's society doing is no longer enough. Companies who support gender-responsive policies, fight to be socially and environmentally responsible need to ensure that they are using every means available to advertise and promote this aspect of their organization. Big brands would benefit as they would attract further customers, whilst also raising the bar for competition, establishing the concept of social and gender responsive policies as a requirement and not a preference.  

    Companies implementing gender responsive policies and transforming such practices into a "trend" would not only benefit women and consumers globally, but it would definitely help increase their revenue, making it a certain win-win situation. 

    For those interested, I have included the link to the survey. What I found particularly interesting is that the survey followed through with consumers to ascertain whether they would actually keep to their claims to pay more for a product/service offered by a socially responsible company. 

    http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/press-room/2014/global-consumers-are-willing-to-put-their-money-where-their-heart-is.html 

  • Angela Ianniciello

    1. How do you think your own purchases could support women’s economic empowerment globally? 

    The better way to go towards more women's economic empowerment is to be an active consumer.

    This means to buy from companies which support women's economic empowerment through positive governance and discrimination towards women. I choose as well companies that support sustainable development not only through empowering women but through choosing to pollute as less as possible, to treat their employees with respect and dignity.

    2. What role do you think companies should play in contributing to women’s economic empowerment globally?

    Companies have the tool to bring women's economic empowerment. Indeed it is first in the workplace that women can be empowered economically and that mentalities can change.

    Companies should be willing to give women as much power and development opportunities as women. If women feel self-confident in the workplace they will feel more empowered also in their daily, personal life. Women can also help and support each other if they already feel economically empowered in their own company.

    3. What tools can companies use to evaluate their gender-responsive policies and programmes and how can this information best be disseminated to consumers?

    This is a very interesting questions. As already mentioned there are various responses:

    - Sensitization for every worker through e-learning

    - Take action as a company through SGD calls

    - Implement HR policies where women are followed on a monthly basis and can give suggestions on how the company can be more effective in implementing gender-responsive policies

    - Create a company's networking group for women and men but where the topic is how to empower women within the company

    - Communicating all of this to the consumer can be done via packaging, Facebook and Twitter campaigns, buzzing videos around that theme, organizing huge showrooms where the companies can share its action for gender-responsive policies. The Facebook and Twitter campaigns can be not only to communicate on the companies positive actions but also to ask the consumers for suggestions !

  • Jazzmine Raine

    I'm a huge supporter of the "by the women, for the women" business model but definitely still struggle in making sure every purchase I make, the transaction is going towards a socially responsible company that supports women's economic empowerment. I mostly buy clothing, shoes or jewelry from independent outlets therefore the relationship between the consumer and the supplier is a lot more intimate and I am able to get a better sense of the companies social goals and objectives.

    I think one of the biggest issues with trying to be socially responsible and support such a big and important project such as women's economic empowerment is that organizations are keen to get involved but don't know where to start, especially on a global scale. I think the first step for companies is to "think" small. Finding a local project with a vision and mission they believe in and that they see a potential in for creating a brighter future for even a small number of women, is still a huge step in women's empowerment. It doesn't have to be a large amount of women at first for actions to be noticed. Effecting just one or two women at the start can bring about huge strides towards our end goal of an equal economic world. To give examples, these local projects could be a non-profit helping women find employment in the community or maybe an organization with projects abroad in rural regions of Asia where they are providing micro-loans, credit or insurance for women starting independent business ventures. Overall, the role a company should play in contributing to women's economic empowerment is the need to be socially aware. First, within their community and then contribute globally. I think when we say"globally", the word is too large and it overwhelms companies when really small impacts here and there can lead to something much bigger in the long run.

    Companies with gender-responsive policies and programmes should evaluate them by getting input from what their consumers want and how they want to feel when they make a purchase. Creating that connection with your consumer allows them to feel like their wants and needs are important and makes them loyal to your brand. Disseminating information to consumers should be done online through documentation on their website, social media and possible events, depending on the company. I don't think this information needs to be shoved down the consumers throat but it needs to be available for us to find it so we know that each purchase we make is another small effort we are making to support women's economic empowerment.

  • I always struggle with this topic because there is not much information out there about responsible shopping. Shops could have a label that grades them according on how good they pay to their workers and how good the environment that they offer to their employees is. In addition, they could also be labelled as "child labour free" and "slavery and human trafficking" free. If we wait for the governments to do something about it we will be waiting forever, that is why we should look for websites that help us to be responsible shoppers. If we change our habits, we will force companies to change their regulations too. Here I am going to write down some interesting websites that can help you with it:

    1) http://slaveryfootprint.org/#where_do_you_live : This website shows you your slavery footprint according to some questions that you need to answer. Do it, it is fast and it was an eye opener for me

    2) http://www.free2work.org/ : Learn how your favorite brands relate to trafficking and other labor abuses. Free2Work provides consumers with information on forced and child labor for the brands and products they love.

    3) http://madeinafreeworld.com/business# : this is a website for companies, made in a free world have built the world's first software that locates and addresses these risks (It's called FRDM®). They aim to invite companies to join their network of buyers and suppliers using technology to create a free world.

    Do you know any other websites that you could share in this discussion forum? I am keen to know more. Thanks!

  • Teresa Abila
    I believe in companies that raise awareness of the ways in which their businesses promote gender equality both in the workplace and community and also inspire other companies to take action on women empowerment.With Corporate Social Responsibility, companies can adopt integrated approach that pays attention to gender issues and conduct gender impact assessments.To add on this, we as individuals must advocate for company policies that actively seek and use women owned businesses.
  • Sabin Muzaffar

    Consumers - especially women consumers - have the power to shift marketing strategies of companies big and small. Why mainly because women are the main decision-makers when it comes to making purchases especially for home and family. So how we shop and what brands we choose can consequently support women's economic empowerment globally.  More and more companies are looking to achieve the triple bottom line and many of the CEOs of multinationals that I have interviewed in the UAE opine that it makes business sense therefore contribute to women's economic empowerment. 

    One tech application that I have come across is Parity launched by the Meera Kaul Foundation. According to an article about the app: "

    The Meera Kaul Foundation continues to strengthen their global initiative of empowering women in the corporate world with the newly launched gender bias ranking application and web portal. Parity measures gender bias in workspaces across the globe, evaluates companies based on their history to exclude women in leadership positions, records real data about sexual harassment in the workplace and also measures the responsiveness of the company towards incidents of gender bias and harassment reported over time. Recently it has gained global recognition from US National Television, dubbing it as the finest app to measure gender bias in workplaces.

    "I encourage women to download the application or web portal and use it to benefit themselves and other women. When the power shifts in the hands of women, employers and colleagues will have to conform. We are more than just a statistic," said Meera Kaul, Chairperson of The Meera Kaul Foundation."

  • Stella Bakibinga

    There is a company in Uganda which manufactures synthetic fiber hair extensions. It has over the years only employed women but unfortunately has the worst working conditions. The women are not only forced to work for long hours without meals in-between, but also get very low wages. I have since resolved never to buy any of their products until they fairly treat the women they employ.

  • Joy Eze

    I never thought of this when doing my shopping before now, though I do most of my shopping from women owned companies and shops, but I have never thought of it this way, because most of the companies in my home country Nigeria, do not put this practice in to consideration while doing their business., but now that I have learn about it I have no other option than to look out for companies that are women economic empowerment oriented. Companies that support women economic empowerment, projects and activities. .As this will help to empower women and girls globally.

  • Catherine Nyoike

    1. My purchases can support women's economic empowerment globally because, when I make a conscious decision to buy products or services from women owned businesses or businesses that have policies that support women's economic empowerment, I provide revenue for the business which supports the women in those businesses to contribute financially to their families and communities. 

    2. The role companies should play in contributing to women's economic empowerment globally is providing an environment which eliminates gender inequalities and putting in place flexible work policies for women so that they can be able to achieve their work life balance.

    3. They can adopt the WHO gender assessment tool as a guide and could customize it to suit their programmes.

  • Tonny Okello

    1. How do you think your own purchases could support women’s economic empowerment globally?

    • Women’s Economic Empowerment (WEE) is often understood as improving women’s access to economic resources and income through the enhancement of economic opportunities and participation, as well as increasing women’s agency and control over household resources and decision making. Therefore to support this initiative, companies that support the following will be those I think of first when I need to purchase or deal with in any transaction and these include; equal gender employment, equaled working conditions, equaled promotion and distribution of roles, respect for women and above all equal pay for the same jobs and kinds of tasks performed.

    2. What role do you think companies should play in contributing to women’s economic empowerment globally?

    • Enabling environment: structural issues such as laws should be fair and flexible where women participate in the labour market freely without bias or segregation and have equal opportunities and competitive advantages like their male counterparts, frameworks like taxation on commodities, businesses should be gender sensitive as well and collective action in terms of formation of women groups that have collective bargaining powers in terms of prices, wages, commission, etc.
    • Providing competitive rates: Women should be given competitive rates so that they can fairly compete with their male counter parts who by virtual of nature gives them a competitive advantage over their female counter parts. These can be inform of providing a fairly higher price for their commodities, providing free or fairly lower transportation of their commodities from to the markets, etc.
    • Support: The kind of support to include access to credit (soft loans) with low an accordable interests rates and providing more flexible and considerate pay back periods.
    • Liberty of choice: To decide on the choice to work, the choice of sector where to work, location and working hours that women and girls wish and will to undertake. This does not only give women the freedom to work willing but also empowers them economically.
    • Promotion of equal participation in decision-making processes: Women just as men should give an equal and fair ground in the decision making process. This should start right the families, communities and should go as far as the national level where the decision making process should be made available and fair to the women.
    • Development of more gender-equal policies: Policies such as ownership of property like land, inheritance, employment, investment, etc. should be more flexible to incorporate the issue of gender equality. These policies are in most cases designed and developed by the same companies that should embrace all these gender related factors so that will make it easy for women to easily acquire resources or services that will contribute towards  women’s economic empowerment globally.

    3. What tools can companies use to evaluate their gender-responsive policies and programmes and how can this information best be disseminated to consumers?

    • Increasing access to girls and women education. Support girls to remain in school to acquire relevant knowledge that will equip and enable women and girls to survive in this challenging world. The knowledge could range from sex education, life survival skills, finance literacy and savings, business skills among others. With such knowledge attained women are in a better position to be empowered economically through applying the acquired knowledge in the day to day life.
    • Increases in budget allocations:  Companies and donor agencies that influence or advocate for budgetary allocations should be in consideration to the issue of women or women owned programmes. These allocations will eventually increase credit access to women to finance and sustain their livelihoods, access to medical care, and provision for their respective families.
    • Providing consistent Support: By increasing and improving women’s access to credit, land and other resources. With this support women will be in a better position to be empowered economically since they can use/employ these resources like credit to start an income generating activity like a business, farming etc. This further goes into supporting these women in their business ventures as well till that time when why reach the market.  Encouraging women to participate in the labour market, and the economy which will sustain and nurture the market economy that supports and promotes women economic empowerment.
    • An increase in women’s household responsibilities: In most cases globally; marriage and childbearing/upbringing leads to many women either withdrawing from the labour market or even education and with such they are economically hindered. However, enabling and finding more flexible, part- time jobs; or entering into self-employment that offers more flexible time management will greatly lead to a more economically empowered woman not just locally but globally.
    • Strengthened advocacy and social dialogue on women issues. Advocating for women economic empowerment through social dialogue is very important. This is because the role of social partners involving in these dialogues is very important since their involvement and participation will a cause a change in the trend of empowerment of women economically. These advocacies and social dialogues if well implemented with the intention to influence the arrangement and development of work related issues that affect women.
    • Promoting women’s rights and participation: Promoting women’s and increasing women participation in decision making process, participating in leadership roles, and increasing responsibility work hand in hand with all the above tools. However much the tools are implemented and right of women in general and increased participation is not increased then the goal of empowering women economically will not be achieved since the women will be crippled yet all other tools are available.

    This information therefore can be disseminated through, grass root reach out through volunteer activities, getting involved were each of us gets involved in distributing this information to target consumers, social media which has created a globalized village and access to information, local authorities, churches, and last but not least social gathering.

  • Cecilia (Zhou) Zhuang

    1. Recognize the name of companies which are willing go extra mile to support gender equality, and try to purchase more products from them;

    2. I think 1) at hiring stage women won't be discriminated  against if she is single or she is a mother; 2. Promotion will solely based on employee's ability not their gender.

    3. I haven't came out a good idea for this question yet, look forward to see how other people thinks how this question should be addressed 

     

  • Anastasia Pavlovic

    To be honest, I am unsure of the companies which respect and support women's economic empowerment. How would this be measured within a company? Perhaps there may be 85-90% of workers as women, but what is the pay rate? What are the working conditions? Are unions allow to play a role and negotiate these conditions? I think that companies need to response and actually take into account what workers are asking, and implement policies that support workers, rather than discourage them. It would be good to have a global body that would rate companies in regard to their treatment of their workers, particularly focusing upon females. Consumers can then be able to better distinguish between what goods and services are ethnically good. This type of labeling should be recognized world wide so it can stop the undignified work conditions.

  • Stella Bakibinga
    I have learnt to only purchase goods and services from companies which respect women's dignity and fair trade. Secondly, companies should commit to women's economic empowerment by financing such activities, and also ensuring that a percentage of their profits is dedicated to this cause. In addition, companies should decline to do trade with anyone who doesn't stand for women empowerment. Thirdly, these companies can use different survey tools to measure impacts.
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