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Build Back Gender-Equal: Challenging Stereotypes and Gender Bias in Workplaces, Marketing and Communications to Build More Inclusive Societies

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Empowering women to participate fully in economic life is essential to building inclusive, sustainable and just economies along with improving the quality of life for women, men, girls, boys, families and communities. Facing the aftermath of the global economic shock created by COVID-19, women’s economic empowerment will be even more essential if we are to ensure that the economic recovery is as rapid as possible and includes all members of society. The crisis has laid bare several long-standing issues that impede women’s full and equal economic participation in the Asia-Pacific region, including the burden of unpaid care work, under-representation of women in leadership and management positions, domestic violence, sexual harassment, and the disproportionate concentration of women in low-wage, low-skilled jobs and the informal economy.

Many of these issues are ultimately rooted in gendered stereotypes and discriminatory social norms that affect individuals since the early moments of their lives. They affect women across business value chains, from female CEOs to women running small businesses to garment factory workers.

Spurred by COVID-19 lockdowns and work-from-home mandates, web traffic is surging, and people are spending more time than ever consuming media and information through screens, which means increased exposure to communications that may be potentially harmful. With its widespread influence and reach, the private sector is uniquely positioned to use the crisis as an opportunity to accelerate the dissemination of progressive communications, both within their companies and in external outreach. This is a chance to disrupt harmful gender stereotypes and lead the creation of a more gender-equal, resilient and inclusive society after the pandemic.


The Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs), developed by UN Women and UN Global Compact and celebrating their 10th anniversary in 2020, consist of 7 principles that provide a holistic approach for private sector businesses to build more gender-inclusive business cultures across their value-chains from workplace to marketplace and community at large.

This session will use the WEPs as a frame and will be complemented by UN Women’s and UNICEF’s work through the Unstereotype Alliance, to surface the ways gender bias, stereotypes and communications practices create gendered impacts in businesses across multiple channels: leadership (occupational segregation linked to social norms and stereotypes), workplace (women workers’ disproportionate share of unpaid care work and family responsibilities), marketplace (discriminatory job advertising and concentration of women in low-wage work) and community (reinforcing gendered roles through widespread marketing and advertising practices).

Panelists will explain and emphasize that COVID-19 is not creating new stereotypes but surfacing those that have long harmed women and girls, making it more important than ever to create change. Through brief presentations and interactive discussion, concrete recommendations and actions will be provided, and the private sector will be called upon to use the crisis as a catalyst to step up and commit to progressive communications and gender-inclusive policies to contribute to an inclusive business world moving forward


This session aims to:

  • Raise awareness of the business and societal implications of gendered and stereotypical marketing and communication;

  • Get more businesses to view the pivotal role of communication across their business and in promoting gender equality, by transforming attitudes and norms that perpetuate gender-based discrimination;

  • Provide concrete recommendations for immediate and long-term actions companies can take to break gender biases and commit to more gender-equal business practices;

  • Celebrate the 10th anniversary of the WEPs and mobilize more companies to demonstrate leadership by signing the WEPs and joining the Unstereotype Alliance as a commitment to ‘Build Back Gender-Equal’.


  • How does gender-bias have a company-wide impact, from leadership through to employees and from recruitment to career progression?

  • How is COVID-19 surfacing the urgency for businesses more than ever to commit to gender equality and impacts this will have on their business?

  • How progressive marketing and communication can be a game-changer towards achieving SDG #5 ‘Gender-Equality’ and create more inclusive societies at large?

  • How can marketing communications during the COVID-19 crisis act as a positive force in driving gender equality for the benefit of all and avoid harmful gender stereotypes that increase the burden on women and girls?

Ms. Gerda Binder

Gerda Binder is UNICEF’s Senior Regional Gender Advisor for the East Asia Pacific region. In addition to her regional leadership on gender programming and girls’ empowerment, she works on gender & innovation, gender capacity development, and gender in advertising.

Nurdiana Darus

Nurdiana is currently the Head of Corporate Affairs and Sustainability for Unilever Indonesia. In her current role, Ms. Darus engages in advocacy work with stakeholders in the palm oil, plastics, and other sustainability initiatives. Her vast experience in the consulting sector, in the private sector, as a senior government official, and leadership role in a civil society organization, in addition to her proven skills in operations, projects implementation, change, communication, and stakeholders’ management have placed her in a very strategic nexus to deliver real change and impact to businesses, the government, and the civil society.

Ms. Katja Freiwald

Katja Freiwald has more than 15 years of experience in the private sector. Prior to joining UN Women in 2019, she was Director of Global Partnerships and Advocacy for Women’s Economic Empowerment, Inclusive Business and Enhancing Livelihoods at Unilever, a company she had served since 2003.

Ms. Vu Kim Hue

Hue has intensive experience in workplace compliance, international labour standards and public governance. She possesses abilities and skills in labour-related policy making and advocacy in both the public and private sectors.

Mr. Stephan Loerke

Stephan is Vice-President of the International Council for Ad Self-Regulation (ICAS) and Vice-Chair of the European Advertising Standards Alliance (EASA).

Ms. Nishtha Satyam

As a futurist and feminist, she is an advocate of the urgency to mainstream women across the marketplace, workplace and community. Nishtha has authored a number of studies on the business value of inclusion and continues to be excited about using her multi-sectoral experience to inform the interplay of policy, politics and people to foster lasting change for the most marginalized.

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