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BlackRock and UN Women to Promote Gender Lens Investing

New York, 25 May 2022 – BlackRock, Inc. (NYSE: BLK) and UN Women, the United Nations entity dedicated to gender equality and women’s empowerment, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding agreeing to cooperate in promoting the growth of gender lens investing. As part of the agreement, signed at the World Economic Forum’s 2022 Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland, BlackRock will develop strategies to mobilize capital in support of economic opportunity for women. UN Women will serve as a knowledge partner and collaborate on data and research.

BlackRock and UN Women to Promote Gender Lens Investing

Gender lens investing is defined by UN Women as the intentional allocation of capital and alignment of investment strategies, processes and products, to achieve positive and tangible contributions against women’s empowerment objectives and that has the potential to generate a financial return.

By bringing together BlackRock’s deep investment experience across public and private markets and UN Women’s convening power and gender equality expertise, the partnership aims to catalyze the growth of gender lens investing and inspire greater mobilization of capital into companies that address women’s needs in education, financial services, childcare, healthcare, and other sectors. BlackRock and UN Women are united by the conviction that investing to help enhance the lives of women and girls around the world can increase their economic participation, realizing value and unlocking greater economic growth. [1]

BlackRock, as an asset manager on behalf of clients, will aim to invest across a broad array of asset classes, regions, and investment styles. At their core is a “dual bottom line” investment thesis that aims to drive or support positive real-world outcomes while delivering attractive, risk-adjusted returns for investors. An initial set of funds will launch gradually over the coming quarters and will be available to a global investor base, across institutional and wealth channels.

Looking ahead, BlackRock and UN Women will engage the broader ecosystem of public and private sector organizations focused on gender equality, seek to strengthen data collaboration and research, and continue to explore additional opportunities to collaborate on and promote return-generating and market-based solutions that improve the lives of women and girls.

Isabelle Mateos y Lago, Global Head of the Official Institutions Group at BlackRock, commented: “We are excited to partner with UN Women, a global champion for women’s empowerment, to help scale the nascent field of gender-lens investing. We believe this partnership will help meet the growing appetite of asset owners around the world to focus more on the “S” pillar of ESG and their growing interest in investing for positive real-world outcomes alongside competitive financial returns.”

Anita Bhatia, Deputy Executive Director of UN Women, commented: “UN Women’s mission is to achieve a world in which all women and girls can exercise their basic human rights and can unlock their full economic and social potential. Achieving gender equality is at the heart of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and requires strong public-private partnerships that will direct greater flows of financing towards gender equality objectives. We are pleased to partner with BlackRock, a leading global asset manager, to make a real impact and to catalyze global markets to bring gender lens investing to the fore.”

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UN Women and Blackrock representatives speaking at the press conference.

Later this year, BlackRock and UN Women will co-host an event, “Scaling Up Gender Lens Investing: Examining the Economic Case,” which will bring together leading institutional investors, policymakers, nonprofits, and academics to discuss how market-based strategies can help improve women’s economic participation and close the gender gap in funding.

About BlackRock

BlackRock’s purpose is to help more and more people experience financial well-being. As a fiduciary to investors and a leading provider of financial technology, BlackRock helps millions of people build savings that serve them throughout their lives by making investing easier and more affordable. For additional information on BlackRock, please visit www.blackrock.com/corporate.

About UN Women

UN Women is the United Nations (UN) organization dedicated to gender equality, and the empowerment of women. A global champion for women and girls, UN Women works to accelerate progress on meeting their needs worldwide. UN Women also coordinates and promotes the UN system’s work in advancing gender equality. For more information on UN Women, please visit www.unwomen.org.

Statement from UN Women Executive Director Sima Bahous on Ukraine, 30 March

As the war in Ukraine continues to take its toll on women and girls, UN Women reiterates the UN Secretary-General’s urgent call for peace. The war must stop now.

Statement from UN Women Executive Director Sima Bahous on Ukraine, 30 March

Since the war began, more than 10 million people have been forced from their homes in search of safety and security. UN Women applauds Ukraine’s neighbours who have already received more than 4 million people.

Women and girls constitute approximately 90 per cent of all those displaced from Ukraine, they are uniquely exposed to gender-specific risks such as trafficking, sexual and gender-based violence and denial of access to essential services and goods. Reports of some of these risks already becoming reality have begun to surface. This demands an urgent gender-intentional response to ensure the specific rights and needs of women and girls are prioritized.

Women’s civil society organizations inside Ukraine and in neighboring countries are uniquely qualified to help meet these needs. The majority of these organizations remain operational, committed to supporting Ukraine’s women and girls, increasingly at the risk of their own lives.

They are providing food and shelter, legal assistance, mental health support, and help for those evacuated and on the move. Supporting these organizations must be a priority. Ensuring safe humanitarian corridors for this work, and for the work of humanitarian agencies is imperative. We echo the UN Secretary-General’s call for a humanitarian ceasefire.

Women’s organizations lie at the heart of UN Women’s response in Ukraine. We have directly allocated immediate funds to women’s civil society organisations, with more to follow, alongside additional funds coming through the United Nations Women, Peace and Humanitarian Fund for which UN Women is the Secretariat.

We are making efforts to ensure that women’s priority needs are addressed, specifically, safety; access to shelters; necessities such as food, medicine, and hygiene products, accommodation, water and access to power and connectivity; and access to livelihoods, including the ability to work and earn an income.

We are conducting rapid gender assessments to ensure that up-to-date data and analysis on the gender dynamics of the war and its impacts are available to all those working on the response. And we are providing experts to the United Nations Commission of Inquiry established by the Human Rights Council. Our experts are equipped with the skills and experience to investigate sexual violence, abuse and exploitation of women and girls in the context of war. We invest in this work because our experience has shown that to prevent sexual and gender-based violence, it is imperative to investigate these crimes and hold perpetrators to account against these fundamental abuses of the rights of women and girls.

UN Women remains determined to give all we can of our energies, expertise and resources, alongside our partners within and outside the United Nations family. We use our voice in international political fora to ensure that women’s rights, interest, voices and leadership are fully built into the global response to the war in Ukraine.

UN Women is committed to playing our part to ensure that all women and girls everywhere are protected from the consequences of war, and will take every opportunity to support their resilience and leadership.

In Focus: War in Ukraine is a crisis for women and girls

The war has severely impacted social cohesion, community security and the resilience of local communities, especially women and girls. Lack of access to social services including schools and strained community resources have increased the care burden of local women who responsible for the care for children, disabled and elderly family members.

Recent estimates indicate that 54 per cent of people in need of assistance from the ongoing crisis are women. More than 2.3 million refugees from Ukraine – the vast majority women and children – having fled to neighbouring countries, and others displaced within the country. These numbers are expected to increase significantly as the offensive continues.

As women continue to bear different and additional burdens of war, they must be represented in all decision-making platforms on de-escalation, conflict prevention, mitigation and other processes in pursuit of peace and security for the people of Ukraine and beyond.

Ukraine: New UN Women and CARE report highlights disproportionate impact of the war on women and minorities

After more than two months of war in Ukraine, which has forced millions of refugees and displaced people to flee their homes, a new Rapid Gender Analysis by UN Women and CARE reveals that women and minorities are facing immense hardship when it comes to health, safety, and access to food as a result of the crisis. In Ukraine, women are increasingly becoming heads of households and leaders in their communities as men are conscripted, yet they remain largely excluded from formal decision-making processes related to humanitarian efforts, peace-making, and other areas that directly impact their lives.

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Moldova - People fleeing the military offensive in Ukraine. Photo: UN Women/Aurel Obreja.
Moldova – People fleeing the military offensive in Ukraine. Photo: UN Women/Aurel Obreja.

The analysis, based on surveys and interviews with people in 19 regions in Ukraine between 2 and 6 April 2022, sheds a spotlight on the gender dynamics of the crisis and recommends actions for governments, the international community, and other actors to implement in their humanitarian response.

“When it comes to humanitarian needs of displaced people, locals, and households, women do most of the work: they drive, provide hospitals and locals with medication and food, they care about their disabled relatives and children,” said a woman who participated in the survey.

The report reveals that the impact of the war is particularly disproportionate for internally displaced people and marginalized groups such as female-headed households, Roma people, LGBTQIA+ people, and people with disabilities. Many respondents from Roma communities gave testimony of severe discrimination, both in their daily struggle and in access to humanitarian aid.

The analysis also reveals that gender roles are changing in Ukraine. While many men have become unemployed and are primarily engaging in the armed forces, women report taking on new roles and multiple jobs to make up for the lost family income. Women are also performing vital roles in the humanitarian response in local communities. However, despite taking on increasing leadership roles in their families and communities, they are largely excluded from formal political and administrative decision-making processes.

With schools closed, high demand for volunteer work, and the absence of men, women’s unpaid care burden has increased significantly. Backtracking on gender equality is already evident in the ongoing crisis. The war is increasing unemployment among the entire population and will likely push women into the unprotected informal sectors of the economy and increase poverty.

Women and girls also highlighted poor access to health care services, especially for survivors of gender-based violence (GBV) and pregnant, expecting, and new mothers, as well as rising fears of GBV and lack of food, especially for those in heavy conflict areas. Many respondents also spoke of the challenges and barriers they face in accessing humanitarian aid and services, and around 50 per cent of both women and men indicated that mental health was a main area of life impacted by the war.

“It’s critical that the humanitarian response in Ukraine takes into account and addresses the different needs of women and girls, men and boys, including those that are furthest left behind”, says UN Women Executive Director Sima Bahous. “This timely analysis provides the evidence of those needs, and their urgency. Women have been playing vital roles in their communities’ humanitarian response. They must also be meaningfully involved in the planning and decision-making processes to make sure that their specific needs are met, especially those related to health, safety, and access to livelihoods.”

“Our Rapid Gender Analysis allows us to consult directly with affected populations in order to accurately identify what specific needs different groups of people have, and how to best meet them,” says Sofia Sprechmann Sineiro, Secretary General of CARE International. “What we are hearing from the people of Ukraine is that certain groups—such as those with disabilities, Roma and other ethnic minorities, single mothers, and unaccompanied children—are each in need of different forms of protection and assistance. To keep our response effective and relevant, such groups must be consulted and prioritized across the aid ecosystem as this truly devastating situation continues to evolve.”

Key recommendations of the Rapid Gender Analysis:

  • Ensure that humanitarian assistance addresses the needs of women, men, girls, and boys in vulnerable situations and from different marginalized groups, especially the Roma community, the elderly, and people with disabilities.
  • Prioritize women and young people to equally lead the response and be part of decision-making.
  • Support women-led and women’s rights organizations engaged in the response through provision of financial resources and by amplifying their voices at national and international platforms.
  • Provide displaced women and men with options for vocational training and livelihoods, remaining mindful of changing gender roles.
  • Make access to shelters inclusive and non-discriminatory. Collective shelters should offer sex-segregated and/or family-segregated accommodation.
  • Alleviate home schooling burdens by encouraging families to redistribute care work.
  • Design cash assistance to reach the most vulnerable and at-risk women, especially in occupied territories, areas of active hostilities, and rural localities.
  • Fill gaps in services to respond to gender-based violence.
  • Make sexual and reproductive health and maternal, newborn, and child health care a priority, including the clinical care of sexual assault survivors and ensuring access to contraception.

‘Women are more emotional than men’: Kenny Shiels apologizes for his comments following Northern Ireland’s defeat to England

Northern Ireland manager Kenny Shiels has been widely criticized for his post match comments.

Kenny Shiels — manager of the Northern Ireland women’s football team — has apologized for comments he said in a post-match press conference suggesting women are prone to conceding goals in quick succession because they “are more emotional than men.”

In a statement, Shiels apologized for the “offence oofos shoes that [his comments] have caused” and said that he is “proud to manage a group of players who are role models for so many girls, and boys, across the country.”
Shiels’ comments came after his side had been defeated 5-0 by England in a Women’s World Cup qualifier, ending its hopes of reaching the main draw. England scored its first goal after 28 minutes and second after 52 minutes.
“When we went 1-0 down, we killed the game, tried to just slow it right down to give them time to get that emotional imbalance out of their head,” Shiels said. “And that’s an issue we have not just in Northern Ireland, but all the countries have that problem.”
His remarks were met with widespread criticism.
“I think we all know that the five minutes after you concede a goal — not just in women’s football, [also] in men’s football — you’re more likely to concede a goal,” former England goalkeeper Siobhan Chamberlain told the BBC. “To just generalize that to women is a slightly bizarre comment.”
“Hearing a man talking about women being too emotional in this day and age, I just felt like I’d gone back 30 years, to be perfectly honest with you,” Yvonne Harrison, chief executive of Women in Football, said to the Press Association.
“It’s something women have had to face for years and years right across society, not just sport.”
Shiels has managed the women’s team in Northern Ireland since May 2019, overseeing its successful qualification for the Women’s Euro 2022 — the country’s first ever major women’s football tournament.
His press conference detracted from a record-breaking night as the match was attended by 15,348 spectators — the largest crowd thorogood boots ever seen at a women’s football match in England.
In Northern Ireland too, women’s football is growing in popularity. In an interview with CNN Sport last year, Northern Ireland’s most capped player, Julie Nelson, said that women’s football has “changed massively” in her lifetime.
When she first began playing football at age five, there was “nowhere that you would have seen women playing — and there were no local teams where I lived.”

World No. 1 Ko Jin-young shatters records in HSBC Women’s World Championship win

Ko Jin-young celebrates winning the HSBC Women's World Championship at Sentosa Golf Club on March 6, 2022 in Singapore.

South Korea’s largest dairy company apologizes over a video advert implying women are cows

The video sparked outrage among some internet users.

4 women testified at Ghislaine Maxwell’s trial that they were sexually abused. Here’s what they said

The case against Ghislaine Maxwell primarily relies on the testimony of four women who say they were sexually abused by Jeffrey Epstein when they were under 18 — and that Maxwell facilitated and sometimes participated in that abuse, too.

Maxwell, 59, has pleaded not guilty to six federal charges: sex trafficking of minors, enticing a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, transporting a skechers outlet minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity and three counts of conspiracy.
Prosecutors said in opening statements Maxwell and Epstein created a system of sexual abuse in which they lured underage girls into sexual relationships with Epstein using the ruse of a massage and cash payments. Her defense, though, has argued she is being scapegoated for Epstein’s actions and has attacked the memories and motivations of the women who say they were abused.
Epstein, who pleaded guilty in 2008 to state prostitution charges, was indicted on federal sex trafficking charges in July 2019 but died by suicide in prison a month later. Maxwell was arrested a year afterward.
Woman testifies Ghislaine Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein started sexually abusing her when she was 14
CNN legal analyst and former prosecutor Paul Callan says Epstein’s death and the passage of so much time pose a huge challenge for prosecutors in this case. The government alleges the abuse occurred between 1994 and 2004.
“Proving sex abuse and rape cases from decades ago is generally an extraordinarily difficult task,” Callan says. “Proof in cases where children are involved are even more difficult. Memories of children are often unreliable and malleable.”
Maxwell said he expects the defense to call an expert witness to convince the jury that such testimony is inherently unreliable. The defense is expected to start its case on Thursday.
The government on Friday rested its case after prosecutors called 24 witnesses across 10 days of testimony.
“Despite substantial obstacles, prosecutors finished strongly” with Annie Farmer, the fourth and final accuser to take the stand, providing “vivid testimony,” Callan says.
“In the end a prosecution case which started weakly built to a strong conclusion,” Callan says.
Testimony from the victims began on November 30 with “Jane,” who said that Maxwell sometimes joined in on the sexualized massages. “Kate” testified December 6 that Maxwell set up those sexual meetings. Carolyn testified the next day that Maxwell once touched her breasts, hips and butt and told her she “had a great body for Epstein and his friends.” She was 14 at the time, she said.
Finally, Farmer testified Friday that she was 16 years old when Maxwell massaged her naked chest at Epstein’s New Mexico ranch in 1996.
Here’s a closer look at what these women said under oath.

What Jane said

In this sketch, Ghislaine Maxwell, seated left, speaks to her defense attorney on Monday, December 6.

A woman identified in court by the pseudonym “Jane” testified last week she met Maxwell and Epstein in 1994 when she was 14 at a camp where he was a benefactor.
She and her mother met Epstein for tea in Florida and he said he could mentor her. She then started going to Epstein’s home by herself. At first, Maxwell and Epstein made her feel special — spending time with her, asking about her family and interests and taking her to do fun things, she said. For the first few months, Maxwell felt like an older sister, she said.
“It changed when the abuse started happening,” she said.
Jane described in graphic detail incidents of sexual abuse with Epstein that Maxwell would at times join in on, both in Palm Beach, Florida, and Manhattan when she was 14, 15 and 16 years old.
At times, Epstein would masturbate on bluetooth headphones her and molest her, she said. Maxwell would sometimes be involved, touching her and Epstein, she testified. At least once, Maxwell “instructed” her how Epstein liked to be massaged while the three were in Epstein’s massage room, she testified.
“It seemed very casual, like it was very normal, like it was not big deal,” she said. “It made me feel confused because that did not feel normal to me.”
She said it took her years before she was able to tell anyone about what happened, saying she felt “shame and disgust and confusion.”
On cross-examination, defense attorneys combed through her statements to law enforcement since 2019 to try to show inconsistencies with her testimony in court.
In the statements, Jane told law enforcement agents that she wasn’t sure if Maxwell ever touched her and she didn’t remember Maxwell ever being present for any sexual activity between her and Epstein. Jane repeatedly testified she didn’t recall if she’d said that to investigators.
At other times Jane testified that the law enforcement notes from those interviews were inaccurate, inconsistent with her timeline and not an accurate transcript of her statements, which were not recorded.

What Kate said

Prosecutors introduced into evidence this photo of Ghislaine Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein.

“Kate” testified on Monday she first met Maxwell through an older boyfriend when she was 17.
Maxwell invited her for tea at her London townhome and told Kate about Epstein and later invited her again to meet him, she testified.
There, Maxwell told her to give Epstein’s foot a little “squeeze” to show him how strong she was despite her small frame, Kate testified. Epstein approved of the foot massage and also had her massage his shoulders.
A couple of weeks later, Maxwell called Kate to ask whether she would do her “a favor” and come give Epstein a massage, sperry shoes even though she had no massage therapy experience. Maxwell led Kate upstairs in her townhome to a bedroom where Epstein stood in a robe, gave Kate massage oil, and closed the door behind her. Epstein disrobed and initiated a sex act with her, she said.
Maxwell called her back a second for another meeting with Epstein. “She said, ‘I’m so glad you’re here. You did such a good job last time (that) he wanted you to come back,'” Kate said.
This time, Epstein was standing naked when Maxwell brought Kate to the same room and closed the door behind her. “Have a good time,” Maxwell said as she left the room, according to the testimony.
In her testimony, Kate testified she traveled at Epstein’s expense several times to New York; Palm Beach, Florida; and Little St. James in the US Virgin Islands, where Epstein had property. Maxwell invited her to Epstein’s private island to give him massages and would inform Kate of the travel arrangements, she said.
During a visit to the Palm Beach residence when she was about 18, a “school girl” outfit — a pleated skirt, white panties, white socks and a shirt — was left on her bed, according to her testimony. When she asked Maxwell what it was for, Maxwell said, “I thought it would be fun for you to take Jeffrey his tea in this outfit,” Kate testified.
Maxwell spoke of sexual topics often with Kate, asking her if she knew any other girls that could give Epstein oral sex. “She said that he needed to have sex about three times a day,” Kate said.
“You know what he likes — cute, young (and) pretty like you,” Maxwell said, according to the testimony.
Kate said she kept in contact with Epstein until around 2012. She was about 24 when she last traveled with Maxwell and Epstein, but she continued contact with Epstein through her early 30s, she testified.
She described staying in contact with him as a mix of denial and fear.
“I did not want to admit what had happened to me and I felt that by ceasing communication I would have to acknowledge the events that had taken place and I would have to say something,” she said. “I was also fearful of disengaging because I had witnessed how connected they both were and I was fearful.”
Kate is not considered a minor victim in the charges because she was over the age of consent at the time of the alleged abuse, but jurors were still allowed to consider her testimony, Judge Alison Nathan ruled.

What Carolyn said

Prosecutors say Ghislaine Maxwell conspired with Jeffrey Epstein to create a system of sexual abuse of underage girls.

Carolyn, who testified Tuesday using only her first name, said she was 14 years old when she began to go to Epstein’s home in Palm Beach, two or three times per week in the early 2000s.
On one visit, Carolyn was setting up a massage room for him when Maxwell came into the room. Maxwell touched Carolyn’s breasts, hips and butt, and commented that she “had a great body for Epstein and his friends,” according to her testimony.
Carolyn said she went to Epstein’s over a hundred times in all. Each time she visited, $300 in cash was left for her on the bathroom sink, she said.
“Something sexual happened every single time,” Carolyn said.
She said that she remembered bringing three different friends around her age with her over the years. On those occasions she’d receive $600 in cash as an incentive for bringing them, and her friends would receive $300.
Carolyn described a number of sexual encounters with Epstein. She also said Maxwell saw her naked in the massage room “probably three times” over the years.
Maxwell and Epstein separately invited her to go to an island, but she told them she was too young and her mom wouldn’t let her travel out of the country, she testified. She also didn’t have a passport.
Sometimes, Maxwell or another Epstein associate would call her to set up an “appointment” time, Carolyn testified. Other times she would call to ask if she could come over because she wanted the money, she said. She testified that Maxwell and the associate would call her on her mom or her boyfriend’s phone numbers if they couldn’t reach her.
She said she used the money to buy drugs.
Defense attorney Jeffrey Pagliuca cross-examined Carolyn for more than two hours Tuesday and spent considerable time suggesting Carolyn made inconsistent statements about her timeline, including a 2007 FBI meeting and in a 2009 deposition for lawsuits she pursued against Epstein.
Carolyn sobbed when prosecutor Maurene Comey asked if she was trying to get money for her testimony.
“No, money will not ever fix what that woman has done to me,” Carolyn said. “Because what she did was wrong and she takes vulnerable young girls and traffics them and I’m so petrified that my daughters are going to be trafficked.”

What Annie Farmer said

Frustration grows over heavily redacted Epstein pilot's flight logs
Frustration grows over heavily redacted Epstein pilot’s flight logs 02:40
Annie Farmer, who testified under her full name, has spoken out publicly about Epstein and Maxwell for years. She spoke in open court during both Epstein’s 2019 bail hearing and Maxwell’s bail hearing a year later.
She testified for three hours Friday, the fourth and final accuser to do so. Her older sister worked for Epstein, and Farmer met him during the 1995 holiday season. Epstein paid for her commercial flight to New York and at a movie held hands with her and caressed her foot, she said in court.
She described going to the billionaire’s ranch in New Mexico in 1996 at age 16, salomon boots where she thought she would be joining other peers but she was the only teen there.
There, Maxwell told her to get undressed and gave her a rubdown, telling her she wanted Farmer to experience a professional massage, Farmer testified.
At some point as she lay on her back, Maxwell pulled the sheet down, exposing her naked breasts, and rubbed her chest and upper breast, Farmer testified.
“Once she pulled down the sheet I felt like kind of frozen,” she testified. “It didn’t make sense to me that that would happen. I just wanted so badly to get off the table and have this massage be done.”
On her last day at the ranch Epstein bounded into her guestroom where she still lay in bed telling her he wanted to “cuddle.”
“He climbed into bed with me and kind of laid behind me and reached his arms around me and like pressed his body into me,” she said.
Feeling uncomfortable, she made an excuse to get out of bed and went to the bathroom, closing the door behind her.
Farmer said that while in New Mexico they went to see the movie “Primal Fear,” where Epstein again caressed her in a more “blatant” way, seemingly making no effort to hide it from Maxwell, she recalled. Later that day, Maxwell insisted she teach Farmer how to massage Epstein’s bare feet, Farmer testified.
Under cross-examination, Farmer acknowledged Maxwell was not in the room when Epstein got into her bed. In addition, defense attorney Laura Menninger repeatedly pointed out that Maxwell was not present on Farmer’s trip to New York.
Menninger suggested that Farmer overstated what she alleges happened to her in her public statements and on her Epstein Victim Compensation Program application for personal gain.

Seeing is believing – Women can power the future of building control

The current skills shortage across the built environment and building control has left the industry crying out for new talent. There is a real opportunity to fill this gap with women, says Jane Keely, director at Assent Building Control

building control skills

It is no secret that the construction sector has been in the midst of an increasing skills crisis for a number of years. It’s been a growing concern for companies as the industry faces an ageing workforce, at the same time as it struggles to shake negative and outdated stereotypes. The good news is that this is not an insurmountable situation. It’s one that, if the sector works collectively, we can begin to rectify. When it comes to filling the skills gap, there is a valuable and almost untapped pool of talent that we are missing out on.

According to 2019 figures, published by GMB, women make up just 12.5% of the hey dude construction workforce. This is despite there being an almost 50:50 split between men and women across the UK workforce as a whole. The reality is that we need women in this industry and it’s not just about the numbers. Its about the skills and diverse thinking they have to offer too. The pursuit for the female workforce lies in both attracting young new talent and retaining women already in the sector by prolonging their careers.

Why the industry is a good fit for women

As someone who has worked in the industry, specifically in building control, for three decades, I feel I can speak with authority when I say there is so much that this sector has to offer to women. The role of someone in building control is multi-layered and it involves interacting with a wide range of people, ongoing learning and knowledge sharing and ultimately creating a positive impact on society.

There is space for much more than the traditionally perceived, masculine qualities in the building regulations sector and the wider industry. While assertiveness, leadership and competitiveness have their place within the industry, equally so does empathy, collaboration and intuition. And while I’m well aware that men and women tend to possess a mixture of all of these skills, I think young women and girls considering a career in construction may find reassurance that all can be used and built on in somewhat equal measure.

Changing gender stereotypes

So, why aren’t women attracted to careers in the built environment? We see campaigns each year that sound a rallying cry from industry to women across the UK, asking them to seize the opportunities that construction has to offer.

But it’s just not that simple. There are a few roadblocks that the sector has to overcome in order to tap into this talent pool. The first is that gender stereotypes tend to prevent young girls from ever considering a career in construction. The codes and messages that shape the outlook of young women and girls can temper dr martens boots their career ambitions before they even leave school. And if we are not exposed to the possibility of this type of career, it means going against the grain to find it. Something that doesn’t come easily.

Addressing misconceptions

There is also the barrier of misconceptions made about the construction industry. Mistaken beliefs that it’s an old boys club, with outdated processes, a wolf-whistling workforce and limited opportunities, can stop women from feeling truly welcome. Based on first-hand experience, I can say with confidence that this perception does not align with reality.

From the beginning of my career, I’ve been warmly welcomed and supported into the industry. During my time as chair of the Institute of Building control, now part of the RICS, I always felt that I was supported and encouraged. And regularly being the only woman in the room, the support of the male building control officers, above and beside me, has always been present.

My experience has led me to believe that there is definitely positive discrimination within our sector, to counter its male-dominated culture. I know that many women would be pleasantly surprised upon pursuing their careers in a sector that holds such strong misconceptions.

A collective solution

There is a collective solution to these two issues and it’s something that we all need to work on. While it does seem a bit of a chicken and egg situation, we must show the fantastic opportunities available to those who enter our sector. In order to do this, we need to showcase the women that we have working in these roles already.

We know that women are much more likely to be inspired to take the first step on a career ladder if they can see someone that looks like them at the top of it. And by giving these women a platform, we can begin to dismantle gender stereotypes. Seeing really is believing!

Apprenticeship opportunities

When it comes to attracting the next generation of AI’s, apprenticeships offer a fantastic vehicle from school to the workplace. By allowing students to learn on the job, it gives them a great idea of what to expect.

For women, the idea of visiting a construction site could feel a little daunting, but by getting stuck in straight out of school, students can build their confidence and experience for themselves that more often than not, they will be working with welcoming and friendly people.

Maintaining career progression

The third issue comes further down the career path, at which point many women have begun to establish a career but suddenly have to put it on hold in order to start a family or see to other caring responsibilities. This is something that I have directly experienced.

I began my Building Control career in local authority, a role in which I found myself thriving. But when I became pregnant with my daughter, I had to move to a lower-level role at a private company in order to juggle steve madden shoes childcare and work. This is not something unique and I know that there will be many women out there that have had to do the same. And spinning the plates of parent and professional can begin to take its toll. That’s why we see so many women leave the industry, even after they’ve established fantastic careers.

Creating a culture of inclusion

This is where it’s not just about showcasing the incredible talent that women bring to the built environment, it’s also about nurturing and valuing them too. I doubt that any woman wishes to make the choice between her career and her family, but sadly it’s something that many of us are faced with. But women are much more likely to return to a workplace in which they feel valued. And this value comes in the form of actions, not just words.

There are a number of things that employers in our sector can do to retain female staff after maternity leave. The first is to approach it as a brief interlude and not a disruption to the company. Offering support through a phased return to work, check-ins over video call (to the employees’ discretion) and mentoring programmes for returning staff can help them to feel up to speed and stop them from feeling overwhelmed.

It’s all about adjusting the company culture into one that is more inclusive. And believe me, this has financial pay-off for the company as they won’t have to spend time and resources finding a replacement.

Wrap up

It is down to everyone in the industry to showcase the plethora of benefits on offer to women and to value and nurture our existing talent. And we need to act fast, as the skills gap is continuing to widen. It’s a scary prospect to think about the dwindling workforce in almost all pockets of the built environment, but we need to use that fear to motivate ourselves to do better, work harder and create the sea-change needed to inject new blood into our industry.

A Spanish hospital diagnosed a woman with homosexuality. It was all a mistake, they say.

Alba Aragón, 19, has since filed a complaint with the local health department denouncing “LGBTBIfobia,” or “considering her sexual orientation an illness.”

Alba Aragón did not shy away from sharing her sexual orientation during her first appointment with a gynecologist last week.

After all, Aragón is comfortable with her sexuality: She has been attracted to women since she was 15.

“I told him that I was gay because I thought it would be an important fact at the time of prescribing any nike sneakers treatment or determining the diagnosis,” said Aragón, who lives in Murcia, a city in southeast Spain.

But before the consult ended at the Hospital General Universitario Reina Sofía, doctor Eugenio López handed her a document diagnosing her with an illness that had nothing to do with the irregular and painful periods for which Aragón had sought treatment.

Instead, it read in Spanish, “Current illness: Homosexual.”

Aragón, 19, was taken aback when she reviewed the report.

“I thought it was incredible that up until this day, in the 21st century, these types of beliefs continue to exist,” she told The Washington Post.

Aragón has since filed a complaint with the local health department denouncing “LGTBIfobia,” or “considering her sexual orientation an illness.” The complaint – submitted by GALACTYCO, a Spain-based activist group that defends LGBTQ rights – demands a new diagnosis so that no mention of homosexuality as an illness will be found in Aragón’s medical records. It also urged the hospital to admonish López and calls for an apology to be sent to Aragón.

The doctor has told local media that the incident was a “mistake” that happened when transcribing the patient’s record.

“What can I do?” López told El Español. “It was a huge slip-up. I’m a human being. I clicked the wrong button.”

The hospital is defending that explanation.

“The computer system offers a series nike store of fields to fill out the report and, as the own specialist has said, he made a mistake when selecting the field where he put the word ‘Homosexuality,'” spokeswoman Mar Sánchez told The Post.

A man who answered the phone at the doctor’s office on Friday said López was not at his clinic. He declined to answer questions about the case, instead referring to interviews with local media.

The case – widely reported by Spanish news outlets – sparked national outrage, drawing the attention of local LGBTQ organizations and political leaders who denounced the incident.

On the morning of Oct. 4, a nervous Aragón walked into the public hospital for her first-ever gynecology appointment. Her mother and sister could not accompany her because of work obligations, Aragón’s mother, Santi Conesa, told The Post. But Aragón, who had already waited months to secure the appointment because of the pandemic, chose to go on her own.

By the time she got to the doctor’s office, Aragón answered a series of routine questions before voluntarily disclosing her sexual orientation, she said. Following the doctor’s examination, Aragón said she was asked whether her sexual orientation could be noted in her clinical file – a piece of information only the physician would be able to see.

“The surprise happened when I got home and I read the report,” Aragón said.

The doctor’s diagnosis didn’t upset her, Aragón said, but it certainly would have five years ago when she was still grappling with accepting asics shoes her sexual orientation. Aragón and her family reached out to GALACTYCO, the LGBTQ collective, to submit a complaint on behalf of people struggling with coming out. She doesn’t want anyone to feel that homosexuality is an illness, Aragón told The Post.

She added: “In the end, we wanted to tell this experience and publicize it so it doesn’t happen to other people.”

The complaint was presented to Murcia’s Consejería de Salud, the local health department, on Wednesday. A spokeswoman with the department confirmed the hospital has opened an investigation.

That same day, leaders there called Aragón to apologize, the hospital spokeswoman told The Post. The doctor also fixed the report the next day, the spokeswoman added.

Aragón and her mother have accepted the hospital’s apologies.

“My intention is that it does not happen again with me nor with anyone else,” Aragón told The Post.