7 June 2021 | News/Stories, Press Release

UN Women’s 2021 Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) Awards competition opens

Bangkok, Thailand – UN Women began accepting applications today for its annual Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) Awards, which award Asia-Pacific business action and leaders that champion gender equality. The awards are organised by WeEmpowerAsia, a UN Women programme funded by the European Union that promotes women’s participation and leadership in the workplace, marketplace and community.

Nominees will compete in six categories: Leadership Commitment; Gender-inclusive Workplace; Gender-responsive Marketplace; Community Engagement and Partnerships; Transparency and Reporting; and Youth Leadership for Generation Equality. The latter three categories are new to this year’s awards. Also new are three Champion titles for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

“We are proud to recognize businesses that are persevering through the unprecedented upheaval of COVID-19 and leading us to a more gender-inclusive economic recovery,” said Mohammad Naciri, Regional Director for UN Women Asia-Pacific.

“Gender equality and promoting women’s empowerment across the globe are crucial, underscored Hilde Hardeman, Head of the European Commission’s Service for Foreign Policy Instruments (FPI). “The EU is proud to support The Women’s Empowerment Principles awards as part of the WeEmpowerAsia project. These enable companies to promote their activities and policies that directly support women and move our societies to full gender equality.”

This year, Investing in Women (IW) is supporting the awards together with the Philippine Business Coalition for Women Empowerment (PBCWE) and Indonesia Business Coalition for Women Empowerment (IBCWE).

“Investing in Women are delighted to partner with UN Women for the 2021 WEPs Awards and awarding the Gender-inclusive Workplace category this year, as we know improving performance in gender equality is linked with positive business outcomes,” said Dr. Julia Newton-Howes, CEO of IW. “Recognising the work some companies are doing towards workplace gender equality will demonstrate the benefits this brings such as better risk management, greater innovation and increased profitability.”

Diverse participation

WeEmpowerAsia received more than 400 applications from 17 countries for the inaugural WEPs Awards in 2020. The 111 winners included SMEs, as well as large multinational companies and financial services organisations.

“Last year’s awards attracted some of Asia-Pacific’s highest achieving and most diverse companies, and we thank the European Union for helping us put a spotlight on those who are challenging the status quo and empowering women across wide reaching value chains between Asia and Europe,” said Katja Freiwald, Regional Programme Manager of WeEmpowerAsia.

Katrina Chan, Executive Director of QBO Innovation Hub in the Philippines, which won in the Youth Leadership category last year, said: “The awards was an amazing opportunity for QBO, a young startup, to network with established organizations that share our vision. Attaining this recognition raises our profile around the efforts to ensure equal gender representation in tech becomes the norm.”

Doreen Shanaaz, Founder and CEO of Impact Investment Exchange (IIX), Singapore, who won the Leadership Commitment category, explained why she applied for the awards: “There is still a long way to go to achieve gender equality, and we want to highlight the integral role of [gender-inclusive] finance and making financial systems work for the 99 per cent.”

“We wanted to push ourselves to do more, and to inspire others to do the same. It makes business sense to empower women on all levels and on all fronts,” added Jonah De Lumen-Pernia, Director for Public Affairs, Communications and Sustainability of Coca-Cola Philippines, winner of the Community and Industry Engagement category.

Save these dates

National WEPs Awards ceremonies will be hosted by WeEmpowerAsia in October in its seven programme countries: China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Viet Nam. All nominees will be eligible for the regional awards to be announced on 18 November 2021.

Applications for the 2021 WEPs Awards are being accepted until Bangkok midnight (GMT+7) on 31 July 2021.

Click here to nominate your business.

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