Manila, 8 July 2015—The HRRC took part in the “IWRAW Asia Pacific Roundtable Discussion on Business and Women’s Human Rights,” which was held from 6-8 July 2015 in Manila, Philippines. The International Women’s Rights Action Watch (IWRAW) Asia Pacific convened the meeting to discuss the expanding role of business actors in shaping the discourse and content of development that impact on women’s human rights. It specifically looked at how IWRAW Asia Pacific could add value to the discourse on business and women’s human rights.
IWRAW noted that businesses are now playing an important role at the international, national and local levels. While economic transformations have created opportunities for some women, inequalities—including based on gender-based discrimination—persist. IWRAW emphasized that the movement to create regional trade agreements that advance corporate interests requires gender equality activists to address the role of businesses and how businesses are influencing the advancement of women’s rights.
The roundtable brought together key persons with knowledge on issues around business, trade agreements and economic policies, and women’s human rights. It was chaired by Professor Savitri Goonesekere, a member of IWRAW Asia Pacific’s Advisory Committee. Professor Savitri is Emeritus Professor of Law, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka and was formerly Professor of Law and Vice Chancellor, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka and a member of the CEDAW Committee.
Distinguished speakers also included Ms. Imrana Jalal, Senior Social Development Specialist at the Asian Development Bank. Ms. Jalal spoke on how international and regional financial institutions deal with business and women’s rights. She shared ADB’s commitment to invest in gender equality, informing the group that ADB’s policy requires gender equality considerations to be addressed across its operations. She stressed that gender equality and women’s empowerment are needed for economic growth, poverty reduction and inclusive development.