Women's rights beyond the business case: ensuring corporate accountability

This briefing is the outcome of collaboration among a wide range of organisations under the umbrella of the Feminists for a Binding Treaty coalition. It highlights the importance of a binding gender-just international accountability framework for Transnational Corporations (TNCs) as an agenda in its own right, and an integral part of a broader effort to achieve women’s economic empowerment.

Women’s economic empowerment is certainly a buzzword these days for governments, donors, international financial institutions (IFIs), UN bodies and even the private sector. Yet, whilst national and international actors increasingly promote a business case for gender equality – i.e. increasing women’s labour force participation as a tool for higher economic growth – structural causes of women’s economic inequality and human rights violations in the unjust global economy remain unaddressed.

States are obliged to prevent and address human rights violations resulting from corporate practices under international human rights law, yet the power and global reach of TNCs today has far outstripped the ability, and in many cases the willingness, of many governments to hold them accountable and act in the interests of people who have elected them.