Equality and non-discrimination are core human rights concepts; everyone should be treated equally, no matter what their status. Notably, however, many human rights impacts stemming from business activities are ‘gendered’ in that they affect women and men, boys and girls, differently. Frequently, women and girls bear a disproportionate burden of negative social, economic, and environmental impacts while having less access to benefits such as job creation, supply contracts, or compensation, which may be generated by private sector development.
Negative gender stereotypes reinforce and perpetuate historical and structural patterns of discrimination, which undermine women’s ability to improve their socio-economic conditions. In 155 out of 173 economies, at least one gender-based legal restriction exists on women’s employment and entrepreneurship (World Bank). Globally, women only make 77 cents for every dollar men earn (UN Women). This has given rise to a ‘gender pay gap’ of 23% worldwide. One reason for this gap is occupational segregation. This can be vertical, whereby women and men tend towards different industries, and industries dominated by women typically earn less. It can also be horizontal, in that within those industries, women occupy positions of with lower salaries and less chance of promotion than men (Investing in Women’s Employment). Women are underrepresented in senior positions within both public and private sectors. For instance, women accounted for 33% of senior management positions in central government, despite making up 52% of all central government employees, in 2016. In the same year, only 4.8% of chief executive officer positions were held by women (OECD). On the contrary, women are overrepresented in agricultural, textile and garment industries, which are characterized as being low paid, insecure and unsafe (UN Women). Aside from employment, women are also sometimes excluded from having autonomy or power over land. In addition to loss of livelihood, they and their families may be displaced without having a say on securing alternative land or compensation (Human Rights Watch).+ Read more
The principles of non-discrimination and gender equality are found in the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). These are reiterated in the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) mandate on gender equality, which is to promote equality between all women and men in the world of work. The following four ILO conventions are particularly relevant:
- The Discrimination (Employment and Occupation Convention (No. 111);
- The Equal Remuneration Convention (No. 100);
- The Workers with Family Responsibilities Convention (No. 156); and
- The Maternity Protection Convention (No. 183).
The UN Guiding Principles explicitly address gender in a number of places.
- Guiding Principle 7 calls on States to provide adequate assistance to businesses operating in conflict-affected areas so that they can assess and address the heightened risks of abuses, paying special attention to both gender-based and sexual violence.
- Commentary to Guiding Principle 3 urges States to provide guidance to businesses that adequately reflects the specific challenges faced by, among others, women.
- Commentary to Guiding Principles 18 and 20 encourages businesses to identify potential negative human rights impacts and monitor the effectiveness of their responses, while paying due attention to the differentiated risks faced by women and men.
- ending all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere;
- eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls in the public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation;
- ensuring women’s full and effective participation an equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life; and
- undertaking reforms to give women equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to ownership and control over land and other forms of property, financial services, inheritance and natural resources, in accordance with national laws.
It is important to note that gender is not the same as sex. Gender refers instead to the different social roles assigned to men and women in various societies. Debates on gender roles and human rights often centre on women’s rights for the simple reason that women are traditionally much more likely to be subject to gender discrimination and inequality. However, these inequalities cannot be tackled by treating women’s rights in isolation from the roles and responsibilities of men. (Why human rights matter).
A number of States have implemented legislative measures to increase gender parity within the business and human rights context. In line with the Equal Remuneration Convention, and many countries before them, Mauritius and South Africa both mandated equal remuneration for work of equal value in 2014. India introduced a quota requirement whereby at least one board member of every listed company must be a woman before April 2015. In 2003, Norway implemented a legislative requirement that board membership of listed companies be comprised of 40% women. Other countries that have followed suit include France, Belgium, Iceland and Italy.
Additionally, the Women’s Empowerment Principles developed by the UN Global Compact (UNGC) and UN Women aim “to empower women in the workplace, marketplace and community”. The principles also “emphasize the business case for corporate action to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment.”
Businesses have also taken steps to recognise gender equality as part of their operations. A group of multinational corporations, together with European authorities, have developed GEES : Gender Equality European Standard, a unique standard for European as well as multinational companies authorities to support companies in improving their human resources processes to reach gender equality throughout the company.
Rio Tinto has also published a resource guide for integrating gender considerations into work with communities (Why Gender Matters). By adopting a gender perspective, the guide provides practical advice on how community programmes can deliver more broad based and lasting outcomes than those designed solely by male community leaders.
Gender and women’s rights relates to the following Sustainable Development Goals
- The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) (1979)
- UN The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW)
- The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women)
- The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)
- ILO – Gender Equality
- Human Rights Watch: Forced to Leave
- European Commission: Gender equality portal
- European Commission: EU rules on gender-neutral pricing in insurance industry enter into force
- Oxfam, Gender equality: it’s your business, Briefings for Business No 7,
- UNGC Human Rights and Business Dilemmas Forum: Gender equality
- UN Global Compact: Gender Equality
- UN Global Compact, UNIFEM: Women’s Empowerment Principles
- The World Bank: Women, Business and the Law 2016
- Key suggestions for inclusion in the Draft Elements of the international legally binding instrument on transnational corporations and other business enterprises, 8 August 2017
- E. George: Women’s Health in Global Supply Chains – Re-Envisioning the Business Role, 11 July 2017
- Business and Human Rights Resource Centre: Gender Discrimination section
What National Action Plans say on Gender & women’s rights
Action point 25
Pay particular attention to the ratification, support and promotion of a series of ILO conventions relating to the rights of women
This is the main action point covering the issue of women’s rights. According to the federal government, “women’s rights have not been specifically embedded in the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights,” therefore, “he Belgian government wishes to give them a privileged place within the framework of the National Action Plan on Human Rights and Businesses acting on several tracks in parallel.” These include:
- Ratification of ILO conventions in this field: C156 – Workers with Family Responsibilities Convention; C189 – Domestic Workers Convention.
- Ratification of Convention No. 175 on part-time work. Standards on part-time work have become increasingly important instruments in addressing issues such as gender equality.
- Emphasis on women’s rights in awareness-raising through the network of Belgian diplomacy
- Systematic reference in international and bilateral fora to ratification by
concerned parties of the Equal Remuneration Convention No. 100 and Discrimination Convention No. 111 of the ILO.
Action point 4
Promote existing qualitative initiatives on human rights and social responsibility
In relation to the project “The Sustainable Enterprise Development Facility for Job Creation in South Africa”, the Flemish government describes one of the strategies on a meta-level being the development of a business culture amongst the youth, with a particular attention towards young women.
Pillar 1: The State Duty to Protect Human Rights
Strand 3: Inclusion and Non-Discrimination
Action Point 3.1 (pages 35-36)
The Ministry of Labour will:
- Perform a series of actions aimed at the protection and defence of human and labour rights of migrants through: …
- Seek to increase the incorporation and participation of women in the labour market through programmes benefiting this group such as: Bonus to Reward the Work of Women; Programme to Develop Labour Competences for Women, Chile Solidario.
- Promote and ensure the participation of women workers in trade unions.
- Foster parental responsibility through the development of Special Covenants where unions may agree with the employer upon certain covenants aimed at offering workers with parental responsibilities the chance to access labour schemes combining time at the workplace with time out of the workplace, as set out by article 376 of Law No. 20,940.
Action Point 3.3 (pages 37-38)
The Ministry of Mining will generate the conditions for transition into an inclusive organisational structure that includes the acknowledgement of respect and diversity in their practices. They will do this carrying out the following actions:
- Talks on business and human rights targeting key actors in the small, medium and large-scale mining industry.
- Through the participation in Regional Boards and in the National Board for Women and Mining, the development of an action plan will be supported to raise awareness and motivate the different public and private actors involved in the mining industry in subjects such as gender equality. Likewise, the implementation of conditions for women to stay and develop a career in the mining industry and receive equal pay will be fostered, as well as the creation of good labour practices and the balance between work, family and personal life.
Action Point 3.4 (page 38)
The Ministry of Economy, Development and Tourism, through the Division of Associativity and Social Economy will:
- Create incubators of inclusive cooperatives in conjunction with SENADIS, the Ministry for Women and Gender Equality and local governments, in five districts -through training sessions in four different regions about the programme of female leadership in cooperatives.
- Encourage the organisation of training and support for the effective exercise of gender parity at democratic representation bodies within cooperatives.
Action Point 3.5 (page 38)
The General Directorate of International Economic Relations of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will carry out activities concerning best practices for SMEs, with the purpose of making progress in the application of best practices in the areas of inclusion, leadership and family balance.
Action Point 3.6 (page 49)
The Ministry for Women and Gender Equality will: …
- Organise training sessions for union leaders of State business enterprises about the union’s challenges regarding gender-focused demands.
- Organise training sessions for human resource staff working in State business enterprises and other businesses about the balance between work and family life.
- Disseminate Chilean Regulation No. 3262 to civil servants and business enterprises.
- Encourage gender equality in business enterprises through the Iguala Seal.
- Train civil servants about the balance between work and family life.
- The plan is said to have a “differential approach” (introduction, page 6):
“Therefore, collaboration from businesses, social organisations and trade unions will be essential in order to ensure respect for the rights of ethnic minorities, women, children, adolescents, the LGBTI community, disabled people, union activists and other minority groups.”
- Action point 4.4 (p. 15):
“Within the State Policy for the LGBTI population, which the National Government is preparing, business practices respecting, recognizing and appreciating this population’s diversity will be supported.”
- Action point 4.6 (p. 15):
“The Council to the President for Women Equality will strengthen the coordination for the application of the international standards on women’s rights, intended to guarantee such rights in the business world.”
Existing plans, initiatives and strategies [page 8-9]
“The Czech Republic has long set great store by the topic of human rights both generally and in connection with the activities of businesses. Human rights in a business context is covered, for example, by the following strategy documents: …
Equal treatment and equality are mentioned at four points in the Czech NAP, however these are not explicitly mentioned in relation to gender or women’s rights.
The Danish NAP makes no reference to women or equality. Reference is made to gender in the following sections.
2.0 The state duty to protect human rights
2.3 Actions taken [page 12]
Protection of human rights in the business sphere in Danish legislation
“Protection of human rights in the business sphere in Danish legislation General Danish law contributes to fulfilling Denmark’s duty under human rights treaties to which it is a party against human rights abuses by private actors, including businesses. For example, the Danish parliamentary act prohibits differential treatment in the labour market from 1996 protecting against discrimination based on … gender …”
Appendix 1, GP 7
State Duty to Protect [page 30]
“Supporting business respect for human rights in conflict-affected areas.
Because the risk of gross human rights abuses is heightened in conflict-affected areas, States should help ensure that business enterprises operating in those contexts are not involved with such abuses, including by: …
b) Providing adequate assistance to business enterprises to assess and address the heightened risks of abuses, paying special attention to both gender-based and sexual violence;”
Introduction [page 11]
“In Finland, there has been a desire to construct a society based on equality and to develop methods and a culture is sensitive to the impact of equality and gender. Equal treatment is taken into consideration in all the legislation and preparation of the national budget, various central government programmes and projects, and personnel policies.”
1 The state obligation to protect human rights
1.1 Human rights in Finnish legislation [page 13]
“According to the equality provision of the Constitution, no one may be treated differently based on sex…”
1.2 Activities in international organizations [page 14]
“Generally, Finland supports the mutual dialogue between international organisations and their cooperation on human rights issues to increase coherence. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs has used development cooperation funds to finance actions related to features such as rights at work, the economic empowerment of women, and decent work.”
3 Expectations towards companies and support services
3.5 Support for Finnish and international organisations promoting the subject [page 28]
“The Ministry for Foreign Affairs uses development cooperation funds to support international organisations, programmes and initiatives which promote the theme of business and human rights. For instance, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs has supported the following projects:
The UN Global Compact CSR initiative for EUR 350,000 in 2013 and its Business for Peace initiative for EUR 200,000 between 2013 and 2014. The activities focus on features such as human rights, gender equality, good governance and environmental affairs.
In 2014, approximately EUR 17 million were spent to support the projects of the International Labour Organisation (ILO). The projects are related to matters such as rights at work, green workplaces for the construction sector, the inclusion of women in the labour market, and decent work.”
Part II, section 2 on training and information within companies (p42-43), the NAP mentions multi-stakeholder initiatives at the local level promoting women’s rights: “At the local level, networks of companies indeed commit themselves to human rights, to the rights of women, newcomers, workers, vulnerable people, etc.” (paragraph 2, p43)
Part III, section 1.4 on national level procedures (p54-58), the NAP recalls French courts’ jurisdiction on criminal matters which include gender-based discrimination as part of the criminal offenses covered (paragraph 1, p55).
Part I, Proposed Actions n°5, Ongoing actions regarding the development agency AFD, p31:
“Reducing gender inequalities in operations financed by the AFD.”
Objective 25.5.1: Develop supportive policy for minor and middle enterprises in order to promote women entrepreneurship.
Objective indicator: Assessment and analytical document of the state policy document; number of development mechanisms.
- Creating analytical expert group in order to strengthen women; creating and functioning platform with interested parties’ involvement.
- Reviewing elaborated recommendations and implementing suggestions in practice based on them.
Responsible agency: MINISTRY OF ECONOMY AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT OF GEORGIA
Partnership agency: CIDA; Global compact Georgia AND OTHER NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANISATIONS. LEPL ‘ENTERPRISE GEORGIA’. LEPL ”GEORGIA’S INNOVATIONS & TECHNOLOGY AGENCY”.
Objective 25.6.1: Elaborate appropriate amendment package concerning corporate social responsibility, including women strengthening principles.
Objective indicator: Elaborated legislative amendments package.
Activity: Researching mechanism of probable promotion concerning corporate social responsibility, including the principle of strengthening women.
Responsible agency: Ministry of Economy and sustainable development of Georgia in cooperation with parliament.
No partnership agency.
Objective 25.11.1: Define conception for elaborating promotive mechanism regarding environment protection in business sector and strengthening women.
Objective indicator: Presentation of research results.
Activity: Searching finest practice in business sector, in terms of environment protection and strengthening women economically and conducting respective research.
Responsible agency: Human Rights Secretariat of the Administration of the Government.
No partnership agency.
Objective 25.12.1: Ensure knowledge of business sector concerning human rights protection mechanisms, including personal data protection and finest standards for strengthening women.
Objective indicator: Presentation of the communicative strategy.
Activity: Elaborating effective communication strategy concerning personal data protection, women strengthening and standards of human rights protection.
No responsible agency.
Partnership agency: Stratcom.
Objective 25.14.1: Prepare manual document concerning human rights protection for companies existing in state property.
Objective indicator: Conducted respective informational campaign.
Activity: Conducting informational campaign for employees of companies belonging to state property regarding human rights protection, including strengthening women economically.
Responsible agency: Human Rights Secretariat of the Administration of the Government.
No partnership agency.
Objective 25.16.1: Ensure foreseeing issues of human rights protection in state procurement process, including women strengthening principles, not only at supportive but also obligatory level and mainstream human rights based.
Objective indicator: Prepared amendments according to the finest international practice.
Activity: Seeking best international practice about human rights protection issues during state procurement process.
Responsible agency: Human Rights Secretariat of the Administration of the Government; Ministry of Economy and sustainable development of Georgia.
No partnership agency.
Objective 25.23.1: Ensure awareness rising about UN main principles concerning business and human rights.
Objective indicator: Number of conducted trainings.
Activity: Ensuring that trainings are conducted on the principles of strengthening women and environment protection issues.
Responsible agency: Human Rights Secretariat of the Administration of the Government.
Partnership agency: Inter-agency Commission working on the issues of Gender Equality, Violence against Women and Domestic Violence.
Objective 25.25.1: Ensure conducting appropriate actions for public servants about UN main principles with the aim to provide information and raise awareness.
Objective indicator: Number of conducted trainings.
Activity: Training public servants including in terms of strengthening women economically; Using already existing module about the principle of strengthening women economically.
Responsible agency: Civil Service Bureau.
No artnership agency.
1.1 Basic rules of economic policy
Protection within states’ own territory – challenges within Germany
The current situation [page 15-17]
“The instruments that are now binding in Germany include … the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child”
“Germany is also bound by EU Directive 2011/36/EU and has ratified both the Council of Europe Convention of 2005 on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings and the Palermo Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children. …
The precept of equal rights for men and women is constitutionally enshrined as a fundamental right in Article 3(2) of the Basic Law. Participation by men and women on an equal footing at all levels is a top priority of the Federal Government. Since 1 May 2015, for example, the Act on the Equal Participation of Women and Men in Leadership Positions in the Private and the Public Sector has been in force. The aim of the Act is to increase significantly the percentage of women in executive positions in the medium term with a view to ultimately achieving parity with men. The principle of equal pay for equal work has also been firmly enshrined in the European treaties since the adoption of the Treaty of Rome.
In Germany there remains a substantial pay gap between women and men. Career choices based on role stereotypes, women in marginal part-time employment and disparities in career prospects because of structural conditions, the effects of material incentives and discrimination – mainly indirect – against women regarding remuneration are still preventing the realisation of equal pay for equal work. Even where men and women have the same formal qualifications and meet other criteria to the same extent, there is still a measurable pay gap of 7%. These pay differentials are a problem throughout the economy, a problem for which all relevant stakeholders must face up to their responsibility. The Federal Government has initiated a dialogue between employers’ and employees’ organisations on this issue and has introduced numerous non-legislative measures such as the Equal Pay Day and a new computer-assisted assessment procedure for the identification of corporate pay discrimination.”
The current situation [page 20]
“In the G7 framework, the Federal Government is pressing for improvement of the economic position of women. Partners in developing countries are to be assisted in eliminating discrimination and violence against women as well as other cultural, social, economic and legal obstacles to the economic participation of women. One objective is to increase, by 2030 the number of women and girls learning occupational skills by one third. The Federal Government actively supports the Women’s Empowerment Principles and is committed to having as many enterprises as possible subscribe to them.”
1.4 Enterprises in public ownership
The current situation [page 26]
“Among the matters covered by the report on federal holdings are the implementation of the Public Corporate Governance Code of the Federation, gender equality and the general sustainability of the listed enterprises.”
Section 2: Current legislative and Regulatory Framework
Equality [page 14]
“The Government is committed to promoting equality in all aspects of Irish society. The statutory-based Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission works towards the elimination of discrimination and the promotion of equal opportunities. It is tasked with providing information and advice to persons who consider themselves discriminated against on any of the nine grounds in employment or non-employment situations.
Recent positive developments on equality issues include the introduction of statutory paternity benefit in 2016 and the launch of a new National Strategy for Women and Girls in May 2017. Work is also progressing on a new Equality/Disability (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill.
Ireland has been elected, for the first time, to serve on the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women for the term 2017-21. This will provide an opportunity to build on Ireland’s international engagement on the full realisation of the rights of women and girls. The Government has pledged to work to strengthen the voice and functioning of the Commission and to promote the participation of civil society in its work.”
Section 3: Actions
I. Key commitments to ensure policy coherence across Government [page 17]
“Ensure coherence between the implementation of the National Plan on Business and Human Rights and Ireland’s National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security”
- Department of Foreign affairs and Trade
Annex 1 – List of additional and ongoing actions to be carried out across Government
Development Cooperation [page 21]
“20. Promote the Inclusive Economic Growth policy priority set out in “One World, One Future: Ireland’s Policy for International Development”, by encouraging and supporting partner governments to ensure that business and economic regulation and legislation implements national and international commitments to human rights such as those relating to gender equality – in particular promoting women’s access to formal employment, decent work, and the rights of marginalised groups.
21. Support developing countries to improve their business and investment environment and continue to promote transparent, accountable and effective governance systems, rule of law, and equitable and inclusive economic growth, including transforming economic opportunities and outcomes for women and girls.”
I. Statement of Commitment (pg. 4)
To protect human rights, Italy undertakes to:
- Continue to protect, promote universal respect for, and observance of, all human rights, fundamental freedoms and non-discrimination principles, with special attention to the rights of most vulnerable groups, such as women,… LGBTI people, …
- Encourage companies, also in view of the updating of the National Strategy for Sustainable Development, in line with the commitments undertaken with the Agenda2030 and the role that the private sector will be called to play in its implementation, to voluntarily commit themselves at national, regional and international level to prevent and redress potential human rights adverse impacts; and to realize the goal of a decent work for all, as set out in SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth); and to enhance the use of indicators of … equality and gender.
IV. Government Responses: Current activities adn future commitments
Guiding Principle 3(c,d)
Planned Measures (pg.19)
- Encourage companies in the dissemination of anti-discrimination culture by: … iii) increasing the awareness within the workplace on the serious issue of sexual abuse and domestic violence; iv) providing incentives for corporate training on inclusion, diversity management, gender balance and gender mainstreaming with specific focus on women empowerment and LGBTI rights, also in line with the Un Standards of Conduct for Business for tackling Discrimination against LGBTI people; v) put special attention to transsexual people and provide for business incentives to promote active policies which remove obstacles and support their inclusion in the job market .
- Promote the development of monitoring activities lead by AGCOM (Agency for the guarantee in telecommunication) on gender issues in the information sector, with particular focus on journalist profession;
Supporting business respect for human rights in conflict-affected areas
Planned Measures (pg. 23)
- Reinforce the action of the Italian Development Cooperation towards gender equality also by supporting women economic empowerment in post conflict countries, in line with the three pillars of the United Nations (peace and security, development, human rights) and the operational and normative framework developed within the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 “Women, Peace and Security”.
Objective 1: ensuring State’s duty to protect, defend and respect human rights [page 1]
“Protection of human rights, ensuring equal employment, social and other opportunities, gender equality, reducing gender pay gap – these are fundamental values to be pursued in labour relations and regulation of corporate activities. The Government has the obligation to ensure the above mentioned human rights in these areas. Government’s actions and measures include legislative instruments aimed at the development of a legislative framework providing for responsible business practices and elimination of corruption in the public sector. Great attention is paid to non-discrimination measures, including education on human rights, various studies and other measures that promote non-discrimination and respect for human rights. The Government also supports specific initiatives for promotion of gender equality, encourages the development of non-governmental organizations and provides financial assistance for initiatives of nongovernmental organizations in this field.”
C. Measures related to research and training on non-discrimination and other human rights [page 2-3]
1. “Research and training in non-discrimination. The Inter-institutional Action Plan for the Promotion of Non-discrimination for 2012-2014 was approved by Resolution No 1281 of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania of 2 November 2011, aims to ensure the implementation of educational measures on promotion of non-discrimination and equal opportunities, to increase legal awareness, mutual understanding and tolerance in terms of gender, race, nationality, language, origin, social status, belief, convictions or views, age, sexual orientation, disability, ethnic origin and religion, to inform the public about manifestations of discrimination in Lithuania and its negative impact on equal opportunities of certain social groups to actively participate in public life.
- to conduct a study into the reasons for changes in societal attitudes and causes of discrimination, as well as the analysis of the results;
- to organise seminars, informal education training and discussions on the topics of equal opportunities and non-discrimination for civil servants, trade union representatives and other target groups in light of the priorities for 2012 as the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations, announced by the European Commission (hereinafter referred to as the EC), to organise informational and qualification advancement seminars and other events on manifestations of discrimination and other human rights issues.”
D. Measures related to research and training on equality between men and women [page 3-4]
1. “Research and training on equal opportunities between men and women. National Programme on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men for 2010-2014, approved by Resolution No 530 of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania of 4 May 2010 and the Action Plan for the implementation of the National Programme on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men for 2010-2014, adopted by Order No Al-323 of the Minister of Social Security and Labour of7 July 2010, aims to ensure consistent, comprehensive and systematic cross-field implementation of the provisions of the Law on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men, as well as European Union (hereinafter referred to as the EU) and international commitments regarding gender equality.
- to conduct an extended study and evaluation of the development as regards treatment of women and men in all spheres;
- to organise seminars to encourage employers to systematically promote equal treatment of women and men in the workplace and equal opportunities for women and men as regards access to employment or promotion to a senior position;
- to organise a round table discussion on the role of social partners in the implementation of equal opportunities for women and men in the labour market;
- to organise seminars on discriminatory treatment of women and men in education;
- to organise seminars in all regions of Lithuania on the implementation of provisional special measures;
- to organise a competition for employers ensuring equal treatment for men and women.”
Objective 2: promoting corporate responsibility and respect in the field of business and human rights
C. Planned measures [page 8]
1. “Promotion of social and socially responsible business. The National Progress Programme 2014-2020 approved by the Government of the Republic of Lithuania by Resolution No 1482 of 28 November 2012 (hereinafter referred to as National Progress Programme) establishes priorities for the implementation of Lithuanian progress strategy ‘Lithuania 2030’. …
The National Progress Strategy also introduces horizontal principals related to sustainable development, gender equality and non-discrimination.”
Introduction (pg. 7)
Among the first signatories of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is an open economy democracy where the rule of law reigns. The equality of all human rights are principles enshrined in the Constitution and the laws of the country.
… Regular contacts with, among others, the four national human rights institutions took place in the context [of drafting the NAP]:
- The purpose of the Equal Treatment Center is to promote, analyze and monitor the equality of all persons without discrimination on the grounds … sex…
The Dutch NAP includes limited references to gender and women’s rights.
3.1 An active role for the government
Level playing field [page 15]
“The Netherlands is also committed to universal ratification of the ILO’s fundamental labour standards: … equality of opportunity and treatment …”
3.3 Clarifying due diligence
CSR Risk Check [page 23]
“Using a grant from the Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, CSR Netherlands has developed the CSR Risk Check for companies wishing to apply due diligence. Based on the sector and country in which a company is operating, this internet tool provides an indication of possible social impacts. CSR Netherlands works with the agency responsible for carrying out Sector Risk Analyses to harmonise the information on which the two instruments are based. This information will be used in the course of 2014 to compile sectoral world maps on which colour coding will be used to indicate whether a certain theme (e.g. child labour, discrimination of women) plays a role in a given country or region.”
2. The State duty to protect human rights
2.1 The State as Legislator[paragraph 1, page 18]
“The duty of business enterprises to respect human rights is set out in Norwegian legislation, for example in the Working Environment Act, the Gender Equality Act and the Environmental Information Act.
2.6 Human rights in conflict areas [Paragraph 2, page 26]:
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is the contact point for companies in matters of security abroad. The dialogue on the risk of gender-based and sexual abuses will be intensified where appropriate.
The 12th Principle [page 31]:
Internationally recognised human rights’ are those set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, the two 1966 International Covenants, on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and on Political and Civil Rights, and the ILO core conventions. In some cases other standards may also be applicable, such as the rights of women, indigenous peoples, national, ethnic or linguistic minorities, children, people with disabilities, or foreign workers and their families.
The ILO Core Conventions [page 31]:
The elimination of discrimination (Convention No. 100 on Equal Remuneration for Men and Women Workers for Work of Equal Value, and Convention No. 111 on Discrimination in Respect of Employment and Occupation).
4. Access to remedy
4.2 Non-state-based grievance machanism [page 41]
Norway has a number of well-functioning institutions such as the Labour Inspection Authority, the Ombudsman for Children, the Consumer Ombudsman, the Equality and Anti-discrimination Ombudsman, the Norwegian Environment Agency and the Parliamentary Ombudsman for the Public Administration. There are also complaints mechanisms in connection with the rights of employees, children, women and men.
Pillar I: The state’s duty to protect human rights
1. Employment and Occupation Equality [page 9]
Ensuring equal treatment with respect to, among other things, undertaking and pursuing an economic or professional activity is governed by the Act on the Implementation of Certain Regulations of the European Union Regarding Equal Treatment. This law implemented the following European Union directives:
- Council Directive 86/613/EEC of 11 December 1986 on the application of the principle of equal treatment between men and women engaged in an activity, including agriculture, in a self-employed capacity, and on the protection of self-employed women during pregnancy and motherhood;
- Council Directive 2000/43/EC of 29 June 2000 implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin;
- Council Directive 2000/78/EC of 27 November 2000 establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation;
- Council Directive 2004/113/EC of 13 December 2004 implementing the principle of equal treatment between men and women in the access to and supply of goods and services;
- Directive 2006/54/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 July 2006 on the implementation of the principle of equal opportunities and equal treatment of men and women in matters of employment and occupation;
- Directive 2014/54/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 April 2014 on measures to facilitate the exercise of the rights conferred on workers in the context of the free movement of workers (OJ L 128, 30.4.2014)
Right of Female Workers to Protection [page 15]
In view of the right of employed women to special protection under Article 8 of the European Social Charter, as well as the right of mothers to special protection during the period before and after childbirth under Article 10 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and under Article 177 LC, the employment relationship with a female employee during her pregnancy or while on maternity leave is subject to particular protection. During this time, an employer may not terminate an employment contract with or without notice unless there are reasons justifying termination without notice through the fault of the employee and an enterprise trade union representing the employee has consented to the termination of the employment contract.
During pregnancy or maternity leave, it is possible to terminate an employment contract solely in the event of the declaration of bankruptcy or the liquidation of the employer. In such cases, however, the employer is obliged to agree with the enterprise trade union representing the female employee on the date of the termination of their employment contract. If it is not possible to ensure other employment within that period of time, the female employee is entitled to the benefits specified in separate provisions on cash benefits from social security in the event of sickness or maternity.
The special protection of the employment relationship does not apply to female employees on a trial period not exceeding one month or to employees hired under an employment contract for a definite period of time concluded to replace an employee during a justified absence from work. These regulations also apply accordingly in the case of employees taking parental leave.
The Labour Code also contains a number of provisions governing specific rights of employees related to parenting, including the provisions on maternity, parental, paternity, and child-care leave, as well as provisions to facilitate the fulfilment of parental responsibilities in relation to child care and education, including regulations that make it possible to combine leave with part-time work or regulations on working time and the use of exemptions from work or breaks from work.
The particular protection of employment relationships during pregnancy and maternity leave is subject to modifications resulting from the provisions of the Act of 13 March 2003 on special rules regarding the termination of an employment relationship for reasons not related to employees (Journal of Laws of 2016, Item 1474). This law, which applies to employers with at least 20 employees, allows for termination of current employment and working conditions with notice, while still prohibiting termination, both in the case of collective redundancies and individual termination of an employment relationship during pregnancy and maternity leave. These regulations also apply accordingly in the case of employees taking parental leave.
According to the Act on the Implementation of Certain Regulations of the European Union Regarding Equal Treatment, in the case of a violation of the principle of equal treatment, laid down in that law, against an individual, including in connection with pregnancy, maternity leave, leave on terms of maternity leave, paternity leave, parental leave, or child-care leave, the person is entitled to compensation.
Pillar II: The corporate responsibility to respect human rights
9. Support in the Implementation the UN Guiding Principles by Companies [page 35]
The obligation to treat all employees equally regardless of their sex, i.e., the legal prohibition of discrimination on grounds of sex is one of the fundamental human rights under the applicable law. Equal treatment is based on the principle of equal pay for equal work or work of equal value, equality in decision-making processes, and equal access to training and promotion. The key areas in this respect include:
- Combating discrimination in the workplace (including on grounds of sex);
- Equal access for men and women to promotions and training;
- Equal remuneration for equal work or work of equal value;
- Increasing the participation of women in corporate decision-making bodies;
- Diversity management, including employee recruitment and selection, talent management and payroll policies, also in the sphere of an enterprise’s organisational culture;
- Providing employees with instruments and mechanisms to enable work-life balance.
Measures planned by the government to support the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles in these areas focus on working with business representatives, representatives of social partners, and non-governmental organizations dealing with the protection and pursuit of equal opportunities, e.g., through:
- Supporting initiatives to improve compliance with human rights standards, including initiatives to strengthen gender equality and diversity in the workplace;
- Promoting available solutions and developing, in collaboration with business and social partners, new tools and methods to promote awareness of human rights and equal treatment in the workplace;
- Supporting initiatives to promote available solutions and developing, in collaboration with business representatives and social partners, new tools and methods to promote awareness in the area of implementation of equal-treatment policies at enterprises;
- Promoting knowledge about the application of compensatory measures in the workplace, or promoting equal opportunities for people belonging to disadvantaged groups;
- Measures promoting the benefits of diversity policy and equal opportunities, e.g., balanced participation of women and men in decision-making bodies (promotional and information campaigns, projects co-financed from EU funds, support for initiatives undertaken by entrepreneurs);
- Promoting good practices in the area of equalisation opportunities used by enterprises, e.g., in employee recruitment and selection, talent management, protection against discrimination, management of the remuneration system, etc.;
- Supporting initiatives to build a broad coalition for creating these measures should involve a wide range of actors, both state institutions and private companies, NGOs, academia, the media, and social partners;
Supporting the development of research and analysis of social inequalities, which may serve as the basis for any possible remedial actions.
Pillar III: Access to remedies
Tasks of the National Labour Inspectorate in the Field of Combating Human Trafficking, and, in particular, Forced Labour [page 48]
As part of inspections concerning the legality of employment, labour inspectors examine issues related to respecting the principle of equal treatment and non-discrimination in access to employment. These activities are aimed at disclosing offences with regard to a refusal to employ a candidate for a vacant position or place of vocational training on the basis of their gender, age, disability, race, religion, nationality, political beliefs, ethnic origin, religious denomination, or sexual orientation. Most often, they involve the examination of job advertisements in which employers post illegal criteria for people who apply for employment, where the nature of the work does not justify their use (e.g., relating to gender or age).
The Polish NAP refers to women’s rights with regards to Regulations on European Funds [page 19]: “Article 7 of Regulation (EU) No 1303/20013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 laying down common provisions on five EU funds5 obliges all Member States to take appropriate steps to prevent any form of discrimination, including based on disability.6
That is why, in 2015, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Development developed the Guidelines for the implementation of the principle of equal opportunities and non-discrimination, including accessibility for people with disabilities and the principle of equal opportunities for women and men within EU funds for 2014-2020.
The above-mentioned Guidelines aim to ensure the compatibility of operational programmes (OPs) with the principle of equal opportunities and non-discrimination, including accessibility, for people with disabilities and the principle of equal opportunities for women and men, as well as to ensure a coherent approach in this respect under the European Social Fund (ESF), the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), and the Cohesion Fund (CF).
The Guidelines are addressed to all institutions participating in the implementation of operational programmes co-financed by the ESF, the ERDF and the CF, in particular managing authorities (MAs), intermediate bodies (IPs) and implementing authorities (IAs) must ensure that the competent decision-making body or party to a project co-financing agreement under an OP will commit the beneficiary in a decision or project co-financing agreement to apply the current Guiding Principles.
The provisions adopted in these Guiding Principles are also an expression of the inclusion of the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, ratified by Poland in 2012, within the framework of structural funds.
According to the Guiding Principles, the managing authorities in operating programmes develop criteria for the evaluation of applications for co-financing allocation in such a way that co-financing (also projects implemented by enterprises) is offered to projects that have a positive or neutral impact on the principle of equal opportunities and non-discrimination, including accessibility for people with disabilities, and the principle of equal opportunities for women and men. The creation of administrative capacity to implement equal opportunities and non-discrimination policies, including accessibility for people with disabilities and equal opportunities for women and men in relation to the European Structural and Investment Funds (EFSI) was regulated in the Action Plan for Equality and Non-discrimination 2014-2020 (22 April 2015).
Guiding Principle 1
“Spain is party to all of the main treaties on human rights and, specifically, to the following:
the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women;
Guiding Principle 2
“Likewise, an awareness-raising strategy will be carried out on how to avoid discriminatory practices in public and private companies (by distinction, exclusion or preference) because of gender, age, ethnic origin, race, religion, disability, political affiliation or union, sexual orientation, nationality, marital status, socioeconomic origin or any other personal distinction.”
Guiding Principle 7
“Within the framework of the implementation of the II National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security, the Government will develop tools and action guides directed to companies on how to address the risk of sexual violence and gender violence in conflict situations.”
1 The State duty to protect human rights [page 10]
Swedish legislation to protect human rights
“The purpose of the Discrimination Act (2008:567) is to combat discrimination and in other ways promote equal rights and opportunities regardless of sex, transgender identity or expression, ethnicity, religion or other belief, impairment, sexual orientation or age. The Act applies to employment in a broad sense, educational activities, labour market policy activities and employment services not under public contract, starting or running a business, supply of goods, services and housing, organisation of a public gathering or event, and health and medical care and social services.”
2 The corporate responsibility to respect human rights [page 13]
“The conditions for companies’ efforts to respect human rights vary depending on their size, the countries and regions they operate in and their line of business, but the common goal is to prevent the companies’ activities from leading to human rights abuses, including the exploitation of children. UNICEF, Save the Children and the UN Global Compact have developed the Children’s Rights and Business Principles, which provide guidance for companies in their work. Companies should also help to defend and strengthen women’s rights, including through access to the labour market and by combating discrimination in all its forms.”
Annex: Measures planned [page 27]
Regulations and legislation
“The EU has adopted new procurement directives: a Directive on public procurement, a Directive on procurement by entities operating in the water, energy, transport and postal services sectors, and a Directive on the award of concession contracts. The recitals of the Directives expressly state that the contracting authorities or entities in their contracts can require suppliers, in the performance of the contract, to comply in substance with the provisions of the basic International Labour Organisation (ILO) Conventions. Such conditions might also be intended to favour the implementation of measures for the promotion of equality of women and men at work, the increased participation of women in the labour market and the reconciliation of work and private life, the protection of the environment or the recruitment of more disadvantaged persons than are required under national legislation. …”
4. Position and Expectations of the Federal Council [Paragraph 4, page 8]:
Depending on the circumstances, business enterprises must also observe additional standards concerning particularly vulnerable population groups (cf. OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, Guideline 40). These include, for example, the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the international conventions protecting women, minorities, children, people with disabilities and migrant workers and members of their families.
5. National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights
5.7 Pillar 1: state duty to protect
5.7.3 The State-business nexus
Guiding Principle 6 [page 25]
PI21 Human Rights Criteria in Public Procurement at Federal Level
Public procurement practices in Switzerland are governed by the Federal Act on Public Procurement (PPA, SR 172.056.1) and the related Ordinance. Article 8 para. 1 PPA states that the federal government awards contracts for goods and services in Switzerland on the following conditions: business enterprises must respect the usual health and safety regulations and working conditions at the location where the good or service is provided, and also ensure that men and women receive equal pay for equal work.
5.7.5 Policy coherence
Guiding Principle 10 [page 34]
PI39 Examination of business and human rights in other review procedures for international law
Switzerland will include business and human rights appropriately in its periodic reports on the implementation of international conventions, such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women.
The UK 2013 NAP in the section on New Actions planned states [page 11]:
“The Government will do the following to reinforce its implementation of its commitments under Pillar 1 of the UNGPs:
(vi) Promote new project activity on raising awareness and tackling the negative impacts of business activity, including on the human rights of groups like … women … by tasking our diplomatic missions in countries where these are concerns.”
The UK 2013 NAP in the section on Government expectations of business provides [page 13]:
“The UNGPs guide the approach UK companies should take to respect human rights wherever they operate. The key principles of this approach are to:
- consult people who may potentially be affected at all stages of project design and implementation, in a manner that ensures free and informed participation and takes into account language and other potential barriers to effective engagement, paying particular attention to indigenous peoples and other groups, including women and girls;”
The UK 2016 Updated NAP refers to women’s rights in the Introduction [page 3]:
“Since the publication of the UNGPs, in 2011, and the UK’s National Action Plan in 2013, there have been a number of developments at the international level. In particular: … Protect labour rights, promote safe and secure working environments for all workers, including migrant workers, in particular women migrants, and those in precarious employment (SDG 8.8)”.
The UK 2016 Updated NAP states in the section devoted to Government Commitments, [page 11]:
“The Government will do the following to reinforce its implementation of its commitments under Pillar 1 of the UNGPs: … Consider new project activity on raising awareness and tackling the negative impacts of business activity, including on the human rights of groups like … women … by tasking our diplomatic missions in countries where these are concerns.”
Outcome 1.2: Utilize U.S. Law, Multilateral Agreements, and Diplomacy to Promote and Enforce High Standards
Ongoing Commitments and Initiatives [page 9]
“Free Trade Agreements: The United States has sought to promote the role that governments can play in encouraging companies to engage in RBC in the context of 21st century free trade agreements (FTAs). For example, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) countries agreed to establish a TPP Development Committee that would promote public-private cooperative initiatives to help certain TPP partners reach their development goals, which include the promotion of broad-based economic growth; enhanced opportunities for women in domestic and global economies; and education, science and technology, research, and innovation. All U.S. FTAs since 2004 also contain transparency and anti-corruption provisions, including requiring our trading partners to criminalize both domestic and foreign bribery. For instance, the TPP includes a historic transparency and anti-corruption chapter. The TPP Parties have also agreed to encourage companies to voluntarily adopt corporate social responsibility principles that the TPP parties have themselves supported or endorsed relating to labor and environment issues.” – Implementing Department or Agency: USTR, State, Commerce, DOL
Outcome 3.1: U.S. Government Reports
New Actions [page 17]
“Country-Level Land Governance Profiles: USAID will develop and/or update 15 public country-level land governance profiles, which explain the land laws, land use patterns, gender concerns, land administration, and land markets within a given country. These profiles are an invaluable introduction for businesses that are looking to make land-based investments in a given country, and are conscientious about investing in an ethical and responsible manner. These profiles are also a critical resource for Embassy staff and others who counsel foreign businesses on potential investments.” – Implementing Department or Agency: State
Annex II: Key Domestic Executive Orders and Regulatory Efforts [page 26]
“The Executive Orders and regulations listed below are examples of U.S. government actions designed to lead by example and help promote the responsible conduct of businesses operating in the United States and abroad.
“Further Amendments to Executive Order 11478, Equal Employment Opportunity in the Federal Government, and Executive Order 11246, Equal Employment Opportunity” (E.O. 13672) prohibits covered Federal contractors and subcontractors from discriminating against employees and job applicants employment on the basis of sexual orientation, and gender identity. The E.O. modifies a prior order (E.O. 11246) which prohibited employment discrimination by companies doing business with the Federal Government on the bases of race, color, religion, sex and national origin and required those companies to take affirmative steps to ensure non-discrimination on those grounds.””