Bringing Down the Barriers: Women, Business and the Rule of Law

L-R: Cindy Braddon (McGraw Hill Financial), Judit Arenas (IDLO) Pilar Ramos (MasterCard) and Ronnie Goldberg (USCIB)
L-R: Cindy Braddon (McGraw Hill Financial) [now S&P Global], Judit Arenas (IDLO) Pilar Ramos (MasterCard) and Ronnie Goldberg (USCIB)
The global economy has much to gain from the full empowerment of women. As the world’s most underutilized resource, women are essential to increasing economic growth, establishing just societies, improving quality of life for families and communities and boosting the profitability of enterprises.

Around the world, too many laws still discriminate on the basis of gender, with dramatic consequences on women’s ability to contribute to economic growth. To address this major barrier to women’s empowerment, USCIB partnered with the International Development Law Organization (IDLO), the Global Compact, the International Chamber of Commerce and the World Bank Group to organize an event titled “Bringing Down the Barriers: Women, Business and the Rule of Law,” with the support of the permanent missions of Romania and Paraguay to the United Nations. This event was held in parallel with the UN meeting of the Commission on the Status of Women (CWS) and in support of the 2014 World Bank report on Women, Business and the Law, which evaluated the economic impacts of gender discrimination laws across the world.

USCIB’s Senior Counsel Ronnie Goldberg gave opening remarks at the breakfast event, explaining that in some countries women lack the legal status to attain an ID, establish a contract, access finance, represent themselves in legal cases, or even hold property in their own name. Such discrimination places major obstacles to economic and social development.

“There can be no development when you ignore 50 percent of the population,” Goldberg said.

Speakers and panelists came together to discuss these barriers and how governments can address them. Other speakers included:

  • Judit Arenas, director, external relations Deputy Permanent Observer, International Development Law Organization (IDLO)
  • Cindy Braddon, vice president of international affairs at McGraw Hill Financial [now S&P Global] and ICC World Businesswomen
  • Ioana Cesacu, secretary of state, Department for Equal Opportunities for Women and Men, Ministry of Labor, Family, Social Protection and Elderly, Romania
  • Sarah Iqbal, program manager, Women, Business and the Law Project, World Bank Group;
  • Pilar Ramos, vice president, Global Public Policy & Regulatory Strategy Counsel, MasterCard Worldwide

The World Bank’s Women, Business and the Law found that women in marriages are required to give up certain rights by law and consequently lack the ability to make their own legal decisions, limiting their economic opportunities. The report also studied the evolution of these restrictions in countries over the past 50 years. Over half these obstacles have been removed, but in 90 percent of the 143 countries surveyed, at least one legal barrier remains, so more needs to be done to achieve gender equality.

Significantly, the report provides evidence to counter the myth that expanding access to the work force for women necessarily reduces employment for men.  To the contrary, the report shows that men’s access to employment was unchanged by increases in women’s participation.

Staff Contact:   Ewa Staworzynska

Director, Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs
Tel: 212.703.5056

Ewa Staworzynska is USCIB’s Director of Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs. Staworzynska brings to USCIB her extensive policy experience from both public and private sectors. Prior to joining USCIB, she led DoorDash’s policy efforts in international markets and was in charge of diplomatic relations. Before her position at DoorDash, Staworzynska was an officer at the International Labor Organization (ILO), where she worked multilaterally to advance support for decent work and related policies at UN headquarters. Staworzynska began her career in New York working for a real estate start-up. Staworzynska will be based in USCIB’s New York office and will work with Jose Arroyo, USCIB policy associate on corporate responsibility and labor affairs, on a wide range of issues, including human rights and industrial policy, responsible business conduct, and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). She was born and raised in Norway and has a B.A. in Economics and M.A. in International Relations, with a specialty in International Business, from New York University.
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