Dr Miniya Chatterji and her sustainable venture building organisation, Sustain Labs Paris (SLP) is profoundly moving the needle towards a sustainable future. Pivotal partnerships in UAE’s education, energy and climate change sectors laying the groundwork
1. Globally, over 2.7 billion women are legally restricted from having the same choice of jobs as men, according to United Nations
2. At the current rate of progress, it will take 286 years for the world to achieve gender equality
3. Women currently contribute 20 percent to the UAE’s GDP, and this is expected to increase to 25 percent by 2023, a recent study by Sustain Labs Paris shows
4. According to the World Bank, women are one-half of the world's population but only contribute to 37 percent of the global GDP
Women across the world have been fighting for decades, to demand a fairer world where all women and girls can live freely and safely with dignity and have access to equal opportunities to reach their fullest potential.
To date, not a single country can claim to have achieved gender equality. Globally, over 2.7 billion women are legally restricted from having the same choice of jobs as men, according to the United Nations.
“At the current rate of progress, it will take 286 years for the world to achieve gender equality,” according to UN Women’s most recent report.
According to the World Bank, women are one-half of the world's population but only contribute to 37 percent of the global GDP. “An economy cannot operate at its full potential if half of its population cannot fully contribute to it,” the World Bank said in a report.
As per the World Economic Forum, it will take another 132 years to close the global gender gap.
Around 2.4 billion women of working age are not given equal economic opportunity and 178 countries maintain legal barriers that prevent their full economic participation, according to the World Bank’s Women, Business and the Law 2022 report. In 86 countries, women face some form of job restriction and 95 countries do not guarantee equal pay for equal work.
A typical economy only gives women three-quarters the rights of men in certain measured areas. According to a report by Forbes magazine, in 2022, women earned 17 percent less than men on average.
Globally, women still have only three quarters of the legal rights afforded to men, an aggregate score of 76.5 out of a possible 100, which denotes complete legal parity. However, despite the disproportionate effect on women’s lives and livelihood from the global pandemic, 23 countries reformed their laws in 2021 to take much-needed steps towards advancing women’s economic inclusion, according to the report.
Out of 190 countries surveyed, the World Bank found that women were on equal legal standing with men in just 12 countries. A recent study by Sustain Labs Paris shows, Women currently contribute 20 percent to the UAE’s GDP, and this is expected to increase to 25 percent by 2023.
But in recent years, countries have reduced these costs through social and legal actions such as curbing underage marriage, criminalizing domestic violence, and increasing the number of women elected officials.
“Women currently contribute 20 percent to the UAE’s GDP, and this is expected to increase to 25 percent by 2023. In order to create a sustainable future, the world needs to reduce gender gap by providing equal work opportunities to women,” says Dr Miniya Chatterji, a global leader in sustainability and CEO of Sustain Labs Paris (SLP) that has operations across the Middle East North Africa, Europe and Asia.
Dr Miniya Chatterji and her sustainable venture building organisation, SLP, is profoundly moving the needle towards a sustainable future. Several of SLP’s projects involve evaluation of governance KPIs that promote gender equality and women in leadership in fortune 500 companies. SLP and Dr Chatterji are focused on building a future generation of decision and policy-makers, innovators, entrepreneurs to make a sustainable future and minimise the gender gap and wage differences.
“As a woman CEO, mother, resident of the UAE, many women in my position share a multifaceted responsibility to make it easier for the next generation of women to thrive. We do it through the work we do and through our relationships with partner organisations,” Dr Miniya Chatterji says.
“At SLP, we evaluate gender equality and women in leadership in fortune 500 companies. This gives us a seat at the table when we talk about reducing the burden on women, who are more likely to have maternal health issues, more likely to be financially impacted, and more likely to be left behind. We have established India’s 1st undergraduate engineering degree to PhD climate school, where we make a conscious effort to keep the gender balance high and have a ratio of 60:40 girl to boy ratio amongst students.”
Dr Chatterji’s advocacy of the role of women in workplaces resonates with the wise words of late Sheikh Zayed, “Nothing makes me happier than seeing Emirati women take their role and assume their rightful place in society,” he said. The UAE was ranked 1st across the Arab countries in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2022. Further, the country ranked 1st globally in 5 of the report’s sub-indicators, which are: enrolment in primary education, enrolment in secondary education, enrolment in tertiary education, sex ratio at birth and women in parliament. The UAE is an inspiration at the global stage and serves as an example on pushing the cause of gender parity in leadership among all its strategic partners in South Asia, Africa and beyond.
Dr Miniya Chatterji was Chief Sustainability Officer of the US$3.8 billion Jindal Steel & Power group of companies 2014 - 2017. Prior to that she was in the senior leadership of the World Economic Forum 2011-2014 in Geneva where she managed the WEF’s Young Global Leaders Community across the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia. Dr Chatterji is regularly invited to speak at high profile social impact events like Davos, COP, MIT Solve, an initiative of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Villars Summit in Switzerland.
In 2019 Dr Miniya was awarded as ‘India’s most influential business leaders of the year under 40 years of age by Business World. In 2018 she was bestowed the award of ‘Most influential Sustainability leader in India’ at the India Sustainability Leadership Summit and Awards. She has also been awarded the prestigious CSR India award 2016 for corporate social responsibility.
A study by Dr Miniya’s organisation, SLP shows, in India, there are less women than men working across all sectors. In 11 of the 17 sectors have less than 20 percent women.
Another study by SLP shows that, in India, wage discrepancies between men and women employees are there across all sectors but the majority in Telecom, IT, consumer goods and healthcare sector. This is the case for most sectors across the world, except for a few exceptions.
Globally, 12 million girls each year get married before the age of 18 - roughly 33,000 every day, or one every two seconds. There are some 650 million women alive today who were child brides, according to a study by World Economic Forum.
To combat this challenge, corporations can support women across all levels by introducing programming that meets women where they are in their careers. Dr Chatterji is trying to achieve it by offering mentorship programs, flexible work arrangements, and by supporting nontraditional career paths.
Dr Chatterji says, “SLP’s efforts to empower women also reflect in my personal life. I founded the Stargazers Foundation with the aim to improve women’s education and health in India in 2010. Its mission was to include healthy and skilled women from economically backward regions into the mainstream economy and governance structures. Stargazers ran its programmes in the Middle East and in India in close collaboration with the International Labour Organisation, UN Women in Egypt and in India, Whypoll in India, King's College London in the United Kingdom, Winentretien in France, Reconstructed Labs in South Africa, Lebara Foundation UK.
Miniya Chatterji’s book, Indian Instincts, published by Penguins publication, also promotes freedom and equality in India. This book has a collection of fifteen powerful essays that argue for greater equality and opportunity in contemporary India.
“I write about gender equality. I have mentored young women for more than 20 years focusing on how women can be authentic in the workplace, without being apologetic about or diminishing their role as a wife or mother. Being a mother and a CEO, one of my most valued learnings is that women don’t need to give up their work life for their personal life and/or separate the two. They both can go hand in hand," she added.
More than ever, the hope for a sustainable world with non-gender biasness has gained real traction among the new generation, businesses, governments and investors. Dr Chatterji and SLP are sponsoring future generations of women to be decision makers, policy makers, innovators, entrepreneurs and ace in all the fields. Never before in time we had so many female entrepreneurs, CEOs female leaders, but gender parity is still far off. There’s a long way to go. But technology, entrepreneurship and smart policy-making hold hope for turning it into tangible reality.