The International Federation of Business and Professonal Women (BPW) is one of the most influential international networks of business and professional women with affiliates in 95 countries in five continents, including Singapore through the Singapore Business and Professional Women's Association (SBPWA). Its members consist of influential women leaders, entrepreneurs, business owners, executives, professionals and young career women.
BPW has attained consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), as well as participatory status with the Council of Europe. BPW’s advocacy roots are embedded in their work with the United Nations (UN), where they have lobbied for the formation of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) and also supported many issues concerning women. For its contributions and achievements, it was awarded a Peace Messenger Certificate in 1987 from UN Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar. BPW’s representative at the UN, Esther Hymer, was also named as one of three women playing a significant role in the work of the UN Commission by Secretary-General Kofi Annan in 1997.
Presently, BPW continues its representation at the UN Headquarters in New York, Vienna and Geneva, as well as at the UN’s regional offices (UNECA, UNECE, UNESCAP, UNESCWA, UNECLAC), UNESCO, UNICEF, ILO, WHO, UNCTAD, UNIDO, FAO, UN DPI; Council of Europe and also European Women’s Lobby. It continues to work closely with UNIFEM.
BPW's Aims: Develop Professional and Leadership Potential for Women at All Levels
BPW’s affiliates contribute to society by enabling women to sustain themselves economically. It offers personal development programs for members including mentoring, leadership training and e-Business training. Since 1996, BPW’s worldwide affiliates have helped over 45,000 women to become economically empowered.
BPW’s projects assist women to:
· Enter and re-enter the workforce
· Start up and advance their business or profession
· Protect their rights
· Overcome their limitations
· Create a nurturing environment in work, education and health for women's development
BPW's affiliates also collaborate with governments and non-government organizations (NGOs). BPW International belongs to coalitions of NGOs including Project Five-O and Conference of NGOs (CONGO).
BPW’s Ambition: Equal Participation of Women and Men in Power and Decision-Making Roles
While capacity-building and confidence-building enable more women to advance to executive positions, the goal of equal participation is still far from being a reality.
BPW gives high priority to create opportunities for women to rise to the level of top executives by collecting evidence on the return on investment when women become top executives. The aim is to use this testimony to persuade the relevant stakeholders such as companies, institutions, academia and governments that they would perform better if the percentage of females at top executive level increased and reached a par with men.