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The entry of women into the workplace has enriched many businesses and the evidence is clear. ‘Gender equality is critical to business performance and sustainable economic growth globally’.

Prof Muigai

At a recent Gender Equality and Employee Rights forum hosted by the Global Compact Network Kenya at the Villa Rosa Hotel in Nairobi, themed to make Global Goals Local Business, it emerged that there is a dire need to support more women into the workplace now more than ever before.

Speaking at the Making Global Goals Local Business Forum (MGGLB), organized by the Global Compact Network Kenya was Prof Githu Muigai, the former Attorney General and Member of the United Nations Working Group on Business and Human Rights, who noted that Businesses should take pride in having a well looked after workforce and not have to choose between human rights and development.

The forum aimed to help accelerate progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) spotlighting on Gender Equality (SDG 5) and Good Health and Well-Being (SDG 3) at the national level.

The UNDP Kenya Resident Representative, Walid Badawi, noted the importance of driving action for SDGs and Young Business Leaders as a catalyst to sustainable economic development.

“Unleashing the full potential of women and girls could add more than $12 Trillion to global GDP,” said Mr Badawi.

Ms Banu Khan, UN Women Programme Analyst on Women’s Economic Empowerment also noted that it is crucial for businesses to speak about sexual harassment when talking about achieving the SDGs. 

She said; “In order to foster good ethical practices, businesses are encouraged to embrace and implement the SDGs.”

As part of the Making Global Goals Local Business campaign, this year Global Compact Network Kenya recognized, through an awards ceremony, a class of 4 professionals, aged 35 and under, for their work in advancing the SDGs in their companies through innovative approaches. 

Dr Joyce Sitonik, Head of Clinic Operations at AAR Healthcare was recognized as a pioneer for good health and well-being. Safaricom’s Senior Manager Sustainability, Ms Karen Basiye, was recognized as a pioneer for partnerships for the goals. Mr Adamson Karuhi, Marketing Officer at Green Pencils was recognized as a pioneer for tackling plastic waste through innovation whereas Ms Marion Wambua, Senior Communication & CSR Executive at Airtel Kenya, was recognized as a pioneer for quality education through access to technology.

Global Compact Network Kenya Executive Director, Ms Judy Njino said; “The business case for ethical business practices is now settled. Let us all now work to make it a reality.

She further pointed out that businesses have minimum responsibilities to meet and respect human rights which can and ought to be internalized by both SMEs and large companies. 

Also present at the forum was Simon Odhiambo, General Manager Corporate Affairs, who said: “Respecting the human rights to non-discrimination including sexual and reproductive health is not only a business responsibility but also a good investment. At Kakuzi Plc, we have an elaborate Sexual Harassment Awareness Reporting and Prevention Program (SHARP) to promote a safe work environment.”