By: Kristin Rosella, Program Associate for Strategic Partnerships at Women Deliver
Last week, GBCHealth, formerly known as the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, announced that it will expand its mission to a broader public health mandate, including a focus on girls’ and women’s health, education, and empowerment. The announcement came during the GBCHealth 10th Anniversary Conference held in New York, NY on June 1-2, 2011. For more than a decade, GBCHealth has been working to engage the private sector in the fight against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria, to increase the number of corporate health programs, and to improve partnerships with civil society and governments. And now, GBCHealth will not only take on a new name, but it will take on new responsibility in the fight for better global health.
In fact, girls’ and women’s health, education, and empowerment were important and prominent themes at the conference and were mentioned by many of the key speakers, including Sarah Brown, President of PiggyBankKids and Global Patron for the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood; Michael Dan, Chairman, President, & CEO of The Brink’s Company; Katherine O’Brien, Vice President of Marketing for Personal Care at Unilever; Cynthia Carroll, Chief Executive of Anglo American plc; among others. Many of the speakers spoke about how health, including girls’ and women’s health, is the anchor of corporate social responsibility, about the importance of engaging the private sector in global health issues, about the power of business to affect social change, and about how now is the time for companies to step up to the plate and take action. No matter what the motivation—a workforce made up of mostly women or a primarily female-consumer base—it is clear that many companies are engaged, or are ready to be engaged, in issues affecting girls and women.
Another important and prominent theme at the conference was the concept of “shared value.” Shared value, as explained by Mark Kramer, Co-Founder and Managing Director of FSG, Inc. and well-known author, refers to a company’s policies and operating practices that enhance its competitiveness while simultaneously advancing the economic and social conditions in the communities in which it works. In short, shared value means doing business and doing good—terms that are no longer mutually exclusive. And, many companies, like GE and Anglo American, are working to adopt and implement this concept into their business and to use it to address some of the world’s most pressing global health issues.
Women Deliver welcomes the input and excitement of these corporate partners to join the fight for girls and women around the world. We cannot change the world alone, and we need all partners, from the public to private sectors and from local to global organizations, to come together under the same message: Invest in women – it pays. Companies are recognizing that investing in girls and women is not only the right thing to do, it is smart business.
For more information on the conference, visit GBCHealth’s website: http://www.gbcimpact.org/