Businesses should take pride in having a well looked after workforce and not have to choose between human rights and development.
Prof Githu Muigai, the former Attorney General and Member of the United Nations Working Group on Business and Human Rights, was speaking at the Making Global Goals Local Business Forum (MGGLB) organized by the Global Compact Network Kenya.
“The entry of women into the workplace has enriched our society. Businesses need to support women as nurturers as it is a necessary price to pay,” added Prof Muigai.
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.
Speaking during the high-level business forum, UNDP Kenya Resident Representative Mr 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.
“In order to foster good ethical practices, businesses are encouraged to embrace and implement the SDGs,” said Ms Khan.
“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,” said Simon Odhiambo, General Manager Corporate Affairs.
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. Last, 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, 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.
“The business case for ethical business practices is now settled. Let us all now work to make it a reality,” concluded Ms Njino.