The declaration was made by P&G’s IMEA and APAC president, Magesvaran Suranjan, during the company’s #WeSeeEqual Summit. The summit is in partnership with UN Women in Mumbai, India and took place on Monday, 18 February. It is part of the company’s citizenship focus on being a 'Force for Good and Force for Growth'.

"Gender equality is a core belief at P&G. Creating a world free of bias with equal representation and an equal voice for everyone is both the right thing to do and the right business choice," says Suranjan.

"We also want to spark conversations and change mindsets as champions for the cause of gender equality across the region. We will leverage the full strengths of our business and operations, and our advertising voice to tackle gender bias and encourage women’s economic empowerment," Suranjan adds. 

Over the next three years:
  • P&G aims to spend $100-million on working with women-owned businesses in IMEA
  • P&G will educate more than 23 million adolescent girls on puberty and hygiene across IMEA
  • P&G and its brands will use the company’s voice in forums such as the #WeSeeEqual Summit, brand advertising like Ariel, Whisper, Always & Gillette and multi-stakeholder efforts to spark conversation and motivate change
The #WeSeeEqual Summit brought together business and government leaders as well as influencers to share inspiration and surface insights around the myths that prevent individuals from accelerating the progress of gender equality.

Dr Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, under secretary general of the United Nations and executive director of UN Women, says, "To get irreversible progress in gender equality takes sustained, intentional action. We need to work together on this wherever those inequalities are present – in schools and offices, in the media, in sports arenas, farms, factories and houses of parliament."

"We’re driving for practical changes, like supply chain agreements that bring good business to women-owned companies. At the same time, [we're also] changing the narratives about the place and power of girls and women in society so they are both seen and treated as equals," Mlambo-Ngcuka adds.

Guest speakers included:
  • South Africa’s television star, businesswoman and philanthropist, Bonang Matheba
  • India’s Mary Kom: Olympian and five-time World Boxing Champion
  • Egypt’s actress and philanthropist Amina Khalil
  • Award-winning Indian actress, Richa Chadha
  • Indian actress and TV personality, Neha Dhupia
  • Indian actor and model, Angad Bedi
P&G says it has been steadily working to improve gender equality by leveraging its unique strengths. Some of P&G’s achievements globally, and in the region, include:
  • Leveraging its voice in advertising and media to tackle gender bias, spark conversations and motivate change. This includes Always ‘Like A Girl’, Ariel ‘Share The Load’, Always ‘Saudi Generation of Firsts’, and Whisper ‘Touch the Pickle’ advertising campaigns.
  • Focusing on removing barriers to education for girls and economic opportunities for women through the company’s social impact programs and advocacy efforts in partnership with organizations such as UN Women, WeConnect International, CARE, Sesame Workshop and Galli Galli Sim Sim.
Examples of current P&G programmes include:
  • Puberty education campaigns such as Always Keeping Girls in School in South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria as well as P&G Shiksha in India
  • Deliberate intention to hire women-owned businesses in South Africa, UAE, Egypt, India and Nigeria are long-standing examples of this focus.
Internally, P&G is working to create an inclusive, gender-equal environment with 50-50 representation of men and women at all levels and all parts of the company. P&G hires women into 50% of its management across the world, and an increasing proportion of women gets promoted into leadership roles into their next assignments at the same progression as men. 

During the one-day summit, Bonang Matheba joined in discussions with Bollywood actress Richa Chadha, award-winning Egyptian actress Amina Khalil and UN Women Chief Communications and Advocacy Tia T Gordon to shed light on the rules that are holding young girls and women back and to unpack the role that the media, brands and influencers can play in creating a gender-equal world for the next generation.

Matheba says, "To make our girls unstoppable, education is critical. I have seen the impact that education has on a girl and her community – it has a domino effect. Resilience is also key."

"The difference between being successful or not is usually based on whether you finish what you started. We live in a world of instant gratification, and we don’t realise what it takes to make it. You need to respect and honour the hard work and the time that achieving your goals takes. You have to start at the bottom and work your way up," Matheba adds.

Matheba concludes, "You need to start somewhere, and the first step is to make a decision. However, to do this you need to free your mind from limitations." 

Matheba has added her voice to other gender equality platforms in support of girls’ education, such as the 2018 '#LeaveNoGirlBehind' discussion at the UN General Assembly. She is also the founder of the Bonang Matheba Bursary Fund that supports tertiary education funding for girls.

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