Why is innovation a key priority for UN Women?

The achievement of the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), notably gender equality and women’s empowerment (SDG 5), requires transformative shifts, integrated approaches, and new solutions. Based on current trajectories, existing interventions will not suffice to achieve a Planet 50-50 by 2030. Innovative approaches that disrupt “business as usual” are central to delivering the SDGs for all. Innovation and technology provide unprecedented opportunities to break trends and reach those who are the most likely to be left behind. This is why UN Women has prioritized innovation technology as one of the “drivers of change” within its new Strategic Plan, 2018 – 2021.

What is the GICC?

UN Women’s Global Innovation Coalition for Change (GICC) is a partnership between UN Women and key representatives from the private sector, academic and not for profit institutions focused on developing the innovation market to achieve gender equality and women’s empowerment through the following actions:

1.      Build market awareness of the potential for innovations that meet the needs of women and innovations that are developed by women.

2.      Identify the key barriers to women and girl’s advancement in innovation, technology and entrepreneurship;

3.      Work collaboratively to identify and select key actions to address these barriers and needs – at an industry wide level; and

4.      Oversee the implementation of the coalitions actions to drive change

UN Women's GICC is the main external consultative body tasked with collaborating, advising and working with UN Women to promote gender equality and women's empowerment, through innovation, technology and entrepreneurship around the world. 

What is the overall aim of the GICC?

The GICC helps UN Women implement activities that support women's and girls' opportunities in particular, areas related to science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) and innovation. The GICC will review progress on, and constraints to, gender equality and women’s empowerment in innovation and technology globally, and provide feedback and advice for the UN Women's innovation strategy. The GICC has also been charged with promoting collaboration on gender and innovation between members and other organizations and to help overall efforts to raise awareness in countries of gender-related innovation issues as well as of the benefits to societies and economies of improving innovation practices and opportunities for women and girls.

How does the GICC work?

UN Women is in charge of the Secretariat. The GICC will convene three times per year at the SAP Leonardo Center in New York, in addition to other specific events and actions that may be undertaken. The GICC Secretariat is funded through the generous support of the Kingdom of Denmark. The coalition’s recommendations and activities are funded primarily by GICC members and through multi-stakeholder partnerships.

Is the GICC Global?

The coalition includes several leading global organizations that have an extensive global footprint through their operations, workforce and pre-existing CSR projects. The GICC’s members also include Sony from Japan, Ericsson from Sweden, South32 from South Africa and the BHP Billiton Foundation from Australia. UN Women will leverage its own expertise on the country-specific needs of women throughout the innovation cycle and collaborate through the GICC to ensure that that the voices and needs of women from various communities across the globe are given priority and that the coalition’s recommendations can be scaled-up and applied in different contexts.

What is the duration of the GICC?

The coalition was created as a two-year pilot initiative to develop a platform for private and public-sector partners to come together to address the barriers to women in innovation in an integrated manner. From 2017 to 2019, the members of the coalition will develop a shared vision for actionable strategies to reduce the gender innovation gap. The GICC will take on an informal advisory role to UN Women and provide tangible recommendations for approaches to ensure multi-sectoral action and commitment to advance women and girls in the innovation cycle.  After the 2 years, these recommendations will be integrated into the cross-sectoral efforts to address the barriers to innovation faced by women and girls and the coalition expanded to include new partners and objectives. 

How does the GICC report on its activities?

The coalition will provide working papers and a final report that summarizes and evaluates the suggested strategies developed by the coalition.

What is the gender gap in innovation?  

The gender gap in innovation refers to women’s under-representation as innovators, entrepreneurs and users of innovation, especially in STEM sectors, which have a high level of influence on innovation. It also refers to the lack of a gender-responsiveness in understanding women’s needs and the barriers of access and participation faced by women in the innovation cycle and the limited investment in innovations that meet the needs of women.

What are the GICC Gender Innovation Principles?

Ensuring that women and girls benefit from innovation will require public, private and civil society partners to come together. The Gender Innovation Principles serve as guidance for any organization trying to adopt a gender-responsive approach, suggesting entry points and actions to be undertaken. They also aim at bringing together like-minded organizations opened to sharing experience and knowledge to accelerate progress in their respective sectors.  

The Gender Innovation Principles are incorporating various international standards providing tools and guidance for companies and organizations on how to integrate innovation and technology in development work and how to empower women in the workplace, marketplace and community. They refer to the Principles for Innovation and Technology in Development endorsed by UN Innovation Network Member and to the principles on Gender Equality and Innovation developed by the International Development Innovation Alliance (IDIA). They also refer to the Women's Empowerment Principles developed by UN Women and UN Global Compact that include corporate policies and processes that aim to better include women within the organization.

What does it mean to sign up?

In signing the Principles, participating organizations agree to adopt and implement them in support of UN Women’s and the Global Innovation Coalition for Change’s commitment to make innovation and technology work for women and girls. UN Women will capture and share experiences and knowledge across the network of signatory institutions to continuously improve collective action and will also evaluate and improve the principles over time. There is no quick fix or silver bullet to becoming an exemplar innovator but by adopting the Gender Innovation Principles, signatories will commit to taking positive action over the coming months and years .

What is the difference between gender sensitive and gender responsive?

Traditional approaches to diversity and inclusion typically adopt a gender sensitive approach. This means they identify gender issues and aim to redress existing gender inequalities.

The gender responsive approach means going beyond acknowledging gender gaps and integrating women and men’s concerns and experiences equally so that they become fundamental elements in the design of innovative products or policies.

The aim of the gender innovation principles is to build on these approaches by addressing gender inequalities but also helping partners in adopting a gender responsive approach in all their activities. The principles provide organizations with the benchmark for how to include women and women’s needs throughout the innovation life cycle so that they are at the heart of the design, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation of the innovation process.

What is the assessment tool?

The GICC Innovation principles are a guide to keep you on course to achieve the ultimate aim of promoting and championing more women and girls in both the innovation process within your organization and by helping you to focus on creating more innovations that support women and girls externally.

One of our ways to guide you is by providing the assessment tool. The assessment tool will help you initially to see where you sit as an organization in terms of your innovation structure around gender equality. After taking the assessment, the tool will calculate whether you are a struggling, growing, professional or exemplar innovator. The key to successfully implementing the principles will be based on your accuracy in answering these questions. Once you have completed the assessment, the tool will explain, what you have done so far and what you need to do moving forward to progress to the next level.

We suggest that you take the assessment each year to see how your organization is progressing and to help you keep on track. The GICC understand that this is a long journey and that each organization is unique with different challenges around this subject. Our role is to support you on this journey.

What happens after I take the assessment?

Once you have taken the initial assessment, you will be informed of your current standing in terms of the innovation principles. If for example, after taking the initial assessment you are deemed a ‘Growing Innovator’ you will be given a description of what you’re doing well and what you need to do to move further forward on your journey. In addition to this, we will outline the actions you need to take to get to the next level, a ‘Professional Innovator’.

After learning your current level, you will be asked to send through a case study outlining what you have implemented so far to get to this stage upon which you will receive an endorsement from the GICC in the form of a badge that your organization can display with pride on your website or other material.

What are the case studies, tools and best practices on the website for?

Our website also has lots of case studies and best practices from other organizations around the globe to learn from and inspire you.

You will also find other tools and practical advice to help you achieve your objectives on your journey.

How will the information I provide be used? Will the GICC going to report on the principles?

Every year hereafter we will be able to measure the impact our members are having by creating an annual report of our findings available to you and celebrating the success of our GICC members who have committed to this mission critical and world changing project.

How time consuming will the measurement of these be in my organization and what are the anticipated effort/resources to perform an annual assessment?

The assessment takes no more than 20 minutes to complete, we hope the information provided from the assessment actually help to clarify the areas of focus for your organization, reducing your time spent evaluating the current approach to innovation.

We also encourage you to integrate some of these parameters in your corporate KPI so that they are easier to track and show a high level corporate commitment to adopt a gender-responsive approach to innovation.