WEPs signatory companies learn from Norwegian experience


The representatives of the WEPs signatory companies visiting Storebrand. Photo: Storebrand
The representatives of the WEPs signatory companies visiting Storebrand. Photo: Storebrand

Since 2014, when UN Women, with Norwegian Governmental support, first introduced the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) to Georgia, the local private sector has been implementing numerous important initiatives in support of women. Currently, Georgia has more than 140 WEPs signatory companies, each making positive changes to people’s lives through their endeavours.

To aid this progress, UN Women Georgia organized a study tour for these signatory companies to the Norwegian capital of Oslo between 23 to 27 August. Ranging from the WEPs first signatories to more recent members, leaders from 14 businesses took part.

The purpose of the tour was to enable these company leaders to discover the best practices, to learn from local experience – Norway ranks third in the Global Gender Gap Index – to discuss successful cases and initiatives, and to consider the current challenges and opportunities. The participants also heard from local businesses about the positive impacts of promoting gender equality, including the significant role it plays in the improvement not only of a particular business but also entire communities, the economy and the State as a whole.

Participants on the study tour met with the heads of three Norwegian companies: Storebrand, Telenor and HerSpace. They were able to learn about the programmes and projects implemented by these organizations to support women’s empowerment, diversity and inclusion, while also discussing the initiatives that contribute to achieving gender equality in Norway as well as those that are relevant for Georgia.

“I was particularly impressed by the approach of Norwegian entrepreneurs and politicians,” said Tinatin Stambolishvili, Communications Director of the insurance company GPI Holding. “For them, women’s empowerment is a prerequisite for rapid economic growth. I think that in Georgia, we are losing a lot of potential and wealth in this regard because able-bodied women are not involved in the economy. Perhaps leading businesses should do a lot more to promote their participation [in WEPs], set an example for others and boost the welfare of the country. During our visit to Norway, we came up with several specific ideas that we plan to implement jointly in our companies. I think we can do more with combined efforts.”

It is noteworthy that representatives from Georgian companies additionally discussed various business opportunities with the staff of the Georgian Embassy in Oslo. As part of the visit, they also met with the Norwegian politician Trine Skei Grande – whose name is associated with many of the steps taken towards promoting women’s rights in Norway. At the end of the study tour, the participants attended the Diversify Nordics Summit, an annual conference on inclusiveness and involvement.

Promotion of the WEPs is a core component of the UN Women “Good Governance for Gender Equality in Georgia” project, instigated with the generous support of the Norwegian Government.