Gender Equity, The Foundation for a Resilient Future: Hear from Zahid Torres-Rahman, CEO of Business Fights Poverty


Join Business Fights Poverty for free at their virtual Gender Summit 2022, on 8 and 9 March, to explore the issues of gender equity and resilience, and the importance of women’s leadership in driving change. The event coincides with International Women’s Day and its theme of “gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow”. Access practical insights, the latest thinking and inspiring examples from experts and practitioners, and connect with like-minded people to explore opportunities for collaboration.

The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day, on 8 March, is “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow”. This reflects the fact that women are disproportionately impacted by climate change, while also having less access to the opportunities that a transition to a greener future can bring.

More women live in extreme poverty – 388 million women and girls compared to 372 million men and boys, based on new projections for 2022 – meaning that women are even more vulnerable to climatic shocks. Meanwhile, in many countries, the majority of smallholder farmers, the least resilient group in one of the most impacted sectors, are women: nearly 80 percent in Zambia, for instance.

At the same time, women and girls are at a disadvantage when it comes to accessing new green jobs, reflecting, among other factors, their under-representation in science, technology, engineering and maths education; globally, women make up only a third of global wind and solar power jobs.

We discussed these challenges at our COP26 Green Zone event and in a toolkit that we produced with the UK Government. We plan to focus more deeply over the course of the year on the nexus between gender and climate justice, convening our community to co-create practical solutions.

Yet, building a sustainable future must be more than achieving gender equality, it must be about driving gender equity. The former suggests ensuring women have equal access to assets and opportunities, while the latter means ensuring women achieve equal outcomes to men. The difference matters, and much of what we see in the climate space reflects deep-seated inequities.

Of course, achieving a sustainable future is much broader than climate change; it’s about building the resilience of low-income women and girls in the face of many disruptive trends and shocks (not least the pandemic). And this, in turn, is about addressing poverty as a truly multidimensional issue – including health, education and the variety of factors that shape women’s standard of living.

Importantly, International Women’s Day shines a spotlight, not just on the challenges that women face, but also on the fact that it is women and girls who are leading efforts around the world to build a more equitable and resilient future. We need to understand the role we can play in supporting and celebrating this leadership, and listening to the voices of those most proximate to the issues. 

The next step in this journey exploring the issues of gender equity and resilience, and the importance of women’s leadership in driving change, will be our Gender Summit 2022, taking place on 8 and 9 March. You can join for free with the code BFPGS22 at:

With our partners, Avon, UN Foundation and the International Development Research Centre, and with speakers from organisations such as UN Women, international companies, front-line NGOs and academic experts, we will be hosting seven interactive sessions looking at questions such as:

  • How does gender equity drive resilience for women and for business?
  • What can we learn from women leaders in the fight for climate justice?
  • How can we drive gender equity through responsible sourcing?
  • How can businesses help prevent and tackle GBV in the workplace?
  • How can business help strengthen the care economy?

At Business Fights Poverty, we believe that fighting poverty and tackling gender inequities are key to building the economic resilience of women and the communities in which they live, and that doing so requires collaboration between business, government and civil society. 

Join us on 8 and 9 March to access practical insights you can take back into your organisations, hear about latest thinking and inspiring examples from experts and practitioners, explore the challenges and hear advice on how to tackle them, and connect with like-minded people to explore opportunities for collaboration.

We look forward to seeing you there.

Zahid Torres-Rahman is CEO of Business Fights Poverty, a business-led collaboration network focused on social impact that he founded with his wife in 2005.  He is passionate about the role of business in building a more equitable and resilient future. Over his career, he has helped create nearly 20 networks and communities that bring together businesses and their international development partners.

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