The Gender Innovation Principles – launched by the UN Women facilitated Global Innovation Coalition for Change (GICC) are taking a gender-responsive approach to innovation and technology. What are they and how? By Bekwase Melissa Mwale
The GICC, a unique alliance with 27 partners from private sector, non-profit organisations and academic institutions was formed a year ago to develop the innovation market to work better for women and to accelerate the achievement of gender equality and women’s empowerment.
After a year-long process, GICC established the ambitious principles to help guide organisations toward including women and women’s needs throughout the various phases in the innovation lifecycle, such as design, implementation and evaluation.
The principles include:
- Principle 1. Make a high-level corporate commitment to adopt a gender responsive approach to innovation
- Principle 2. Design innovations that include women as end users
- Principle 3. Adopt an adaptive approach to implementation to ensure innovations are gender-responsive and meet the needs of women
- Principle 4. Evaluate the gender-responsive impact using a data driven approach
- Principle 5. Scale innovations that provide sustainable solutions to meet the needs of women and girls
“This is about working with companies to ensure that women play a key role as both developers and consumers of technology and innovation. From mobile banking and blockchain technology, to artificial intelligence and the internet of things, it is vital that women’s ideas, concerns and experiences equally influence the design and implementation of the innovations that shape our future societies,” Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Women executive director, stated on welcoming the launch of standard-setting principles.
According to UN Women, applying a gender lens to the innovation cycle and involving women more actively, has the potential to serve as a catalytic tool of change, to break trends and increase access and availability of opportunities.
UN Women’s work with the private sector is extensive, from setting standards such as the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) and these newly-launched principles, to encouraging private sector partners to join global campaigns such as HeForShe and Planet 50/50 by 2030.
The Gender Innovation Principles will be implemented in connection with the WEPs framework and other UN Women partnerships to bring together GICC members and like-minded organisations to share experience and knowledge on gender-responsive innovation.
Steve Krouskos, global vice chair of Transaction Advisory Services of EY, who led the work stream to develop the Gender Innovations Principles, said: “EY is proud to be at the forefront of developing the gender innovation principles with UN Women to promote gender equality through innovation. Reducing inequality – especially at a time of turbo-charged technological disruption – is a business priority, and the principles provide a platform for businesses to benchmark themselves and work towards better outcomes. As a father and a business leader, I believe we all need to support ways to help build a better working world.”
Working together to advance the gender equality agenda, the Innovation Coalition, facilitated by UN Women, has the support of a diverse set of global industry leaders, such as Nasdaq, SAP, CISCO, Citi, Dell, Ericsson, Facebook, HP, General Electric and a host of others. The Coalition also includes academic institutions like MIT Solve and New York Academy of Sciences.