Violence against women is, unfortunately, a reality for 7 out of 10 Ecuadorian women, and it is up to all of us to fight for change (INEC, 2019). The business sector needs to get involved too!
The numbers speak for themselves. Violence against women not only damages lives, but also undermines the economic prosperity of the business sector and the country, causing millions of dollars in losses amounting to almost 1.8 billion USD a year (GIZ/USMP, 2020). This impact on Ecuador’s large and medium-sized businesses demands a decisive response from the sector.
How can the business sector get involved?
One way is to obtain the “Safe Company, free of violence and discrimination against women” seal. With this initiative, the private sector, the public sector, and GIZ Ecuador have a clear purpose: to eradicate the violence affecting women in the country. The “Safe Company” seal marks a path towards a future and a life free of violence against women, and the business sector is a key actor in achieving gender equity.
This seal is the highest recognition awarded to companies committed to zero tolerance towards gender-based violence and is awarded by the Ministry of Women and Human Rights in collaboration with the Ministry of Labor; Ministry of Production, Foreign Trade, Investment, and Fisheries; the Public Procurement Service (Servicio de Contratación Pública – SERCOP), the Chamber of Production Industries (Cámara de Industrias de Producción — CIP); with technical cooperation of the GIZ PreViMujer program.
Step by step taking action against this problem!
To obtain this distinction, interested companies are invited to complete a self-assessment that reviews their status with respect to 20 evaluation criteria related to gender inclusion and zero-tolerance policies against discrimination and violence against women. The companies’ commitment translates into actions such as the implementation of prevention, care, and sanction policies; dissemination and promotion of women’s rights; staff training; provide information on legal and psychological support services; social responsibility actions with the community; among others. Companies seeking this recognition can apply annually, and the next edition is open to applications until January 2024.
After the application deadline, the Special Inter-Institutional Committee (Comité Especial Interinstitucional — CEI), composed of representatives of the institutions listed above, as well as other agents from both civil society, Mujeres por Ecuador and academia, Escuela politécnica Nacional (EPN), evaluates the applications and selects the companies that qualify for the “Safe Company” seal. The shortlisted companies receive technical assistance from the CEI, so that they can improve their score in the assessment and qualify for the seal at the end of the year.
What are the benefits for companies that obtain the seal?
Actions to prevent violence against women, implemented by companies, provide several benefits such as greater profitability; better working environment; improved sustainability; and strengthened productivity. By reducing the impact of this social issue, companies will obtain these and other benefits for themselves and their employees.
The seal not only recognizes the commitment of companies to the eradication of gender-based violence, but also promotes their leadership. By making this achievement visible companies will be able to use the seal on all communication material produced by the company. The entities that support the seal will publish the good practices they have implemented with the recognition, thus increasing their visibility. Finally, technical support will be provided throughout the year, at no additional cost, to help companies improve their actions in this area.
Companies that have shown faithful commitment to the cause
To date, over 150 companies have worked hard to implement measures to prevent violence against women, of which 56 have been awarded the seal and 26 have received Honorable Mentions for their efforts.
Among the companies that were awarded the seal in the 2022 edition, 19% belong to the manufacturing sector, another 19% to the commerce sector, a similar number to the services sector, 13% to the construction sector and one third in other sectors.
As for the 2023 edition, companies from both the food and service sectors account for 16%, followed by the financial sector with 13% and the oil sector with 10%. Almost half are made up of other 13 sectors.
Seal “Safe Company, free of violence and discrimination against women”, 2023 edition
Year by year, we will be looking for those companies committed to the prevention of violence against women. The 2023 edition has concluded, with more than 70 companies having applied for the seal. Among these companies, 30 were awarded the seal and 8 received an honorary mention for their efforts in implementing measures to prevent violence against women. On 28 November 2023, the award ceremony of this second edition took place and officially opened the new edition 2024.
There, the success of the seal was also recognized by the government, exemplified by the fact that the initiative became a ministerial agreement and the Ministry of Women and Human Rights will assume regulation for future occasions. As Arianna Tanca, Minister of Women and Human Rights, stated during her speech at the 2023 seal awarding ceremony: “Society does not only work from the State, but it must be a partnership with private companies, civil society, academia in order to leave a better world behind, and we cannot leave a better world behind if gender violence exists”.
We are moving towards a future free of violence against women! If you want to know more about this initiative, visit www.selloempresasegura.ec.
Contact DetailsName: Carolina Loayza