Private Sector Pioneers on Gender Equality Campaign


Women’s leadership and more equitable representation in business are essential to drive business performance, advance corporate sustainability, and achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. Yet, progress around the world is alarmingly slow. At the current pace of change it will take 257 years to close the economic gender gap.

Now more than ever, the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown into sharp relief the need for comprehensive governmental and business policies that support and protect working women and their families during and after the crisis.

Across all spheres – health to economy, security and education to social protection – the disrupting impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are disproportionally affecting the majority of Lebanese women.

Generally Lebanon has one of the highest overall gender gaps in the world (ranking 145 out of 153 countries in the World Economic Gender Index Report 2020), and amongst the lowest global rates of women’s labour market participation, hovering at 29% for women and 76% for men.  

Source: World Economic Gender Index Report

Lebanese women were already at a substantial disadvantage even prior to the economic downturn, therefore, most vulnerable in the current Lebanese context characterized by punctuated conflicts and disruptions.

Key Differential Impacts of the Crisis on Women:

  • Women in Lebanon have already experienced – and will continue to experience – acute reductions in the labour force participation and employment during the crisis: contraction in real GDP from 2017 to 2020 is expected to have increased women’s unemployment rate from 14.3% before the crisis to 26% by September 2020

Source: Women on the Verge of an Economic Downturn Report, UN Women

  • The quality and type of employment women will have access to, is deteriorating during the crisis
  • Women contend with the livelihoods and well-being impacts of their own job losses. Millions of the jobs that have disappeared belong to the services sector where women are overrepresented. This translates into a feminine surge in vulnerability
  • Retirees and older adults, particularly women, are at risk of losing sustainability during the crisis
  • The crisis is set to harm women’s physical and mental health
  • Women’s health care, including sexual and reproductive health, is harder to access in these times of crisis as resources are diverted to address the pandemic

Source: UN Global Compact

  • The crisis is set to curb women’s institutional rights and career advancement
  • More girls face the risk of being deprived of the opportunity of attending private schools. This is both due to the loss of incomes within families and deleterious coping strategies that favor boys’ education over girls

Source: Women on the Verge of an Economic Downturn Report, UN Women

  • 50% of women’s employment is in the informal economy with limited access to social protection
  • The Global Gender pay gap is stuck at a 16% leaving women more vulnerable to economic downturn

Source: UN Global Compact

  • Women already do 3 times more unpaid care work as men

Source: UN Women

  • 70% of health care workers serving at the frontlines and contributing to a huge change in the COVID-19 response are women. Yet they get paid less than 11% than men

Source: UN Women

The Private Sector Pioneers on Gender Equality Campaign:

Recognizing the incremental role of the private sector in advancing and deepening the implementation of the Women Empowerment Principles (WEPs), Global Compact Network Lebanon is launching the Private Sector Pioneers on Gender Equality Campaign. The broader aim of this campaign is to celebrate our pioneers on SDG5 on the occasion of Women’s International Day on March 8th. The display of real-world examples reflects the core essence of this campaign. Throughout this campaign, we will celebrate our Private Sector Pioneers through featuring and promoting their best corporate policies and workplace practices in the context of Gender Equality (SDG5) and Women’s Economic Empowerment.

Now more than ever, we call on the private sector to collectively and jointly pursue concrete and bold steps to empower women and proactively close the gender gap across all fronts within the Lebanese society. Only with our sustained actions we can create a snowball of change. We must move forward and not backward.

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