The State Department’s Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs hosted a conference today entitled Women’s Economic Empowerment: Minerals, Responsible Sourcing, and the Jewelry Supply Chain in the U.S. Department of State. Assistant Secretary for Economic and Business Affairs Manisha Singh opened the conference.
Attended by private industry, civil society, and public sector representatives, the conference featured a discussion which outlined the Bureau’s women’s economic empowerment initiative, POWER (Providing Opportunities for Women’s Economic Rise). Through POWER the State Department will engage the U.S. private sector to reduce barriers and build networks to support women’s economic participation around the world. POWER will promote efforts to support women as entrepreneurs and business leaders, particularly in emerging sectors.
The conference also highlighted the United States’ strong support for private sector adoption of supply chain due diligence procedures in the mineral supply chain, including precious metals and gemstones. The United States supports the OECD Due Diligence Standards for Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas. Given the multiple threat finance concerns throughout the precious metals and precious gemstones supply chains, the United States endorses private sector due diligence as one means of ensuring compliance with all relevant U.S. sanctions regimes. Conference attendees discussed the need for further government action to address the issue.
Participants were informed that the United States recognizes the work of jewelry supply chain actors and associations to uphold the highest sourcing standards possible but that vigilance is required. The conference showcased the extensive threat finance and other concerns throughout the jewelry supply chain, including money laundering, corruption, human rights abuses, labor and environmental concerns, and other issues. These concerns apply to all precious metals and precious gemstones, including but not limited to diamonds, colored gemstones, gold, and other precious metals.
Attendees were provided with “Managing Risks to Women in Supply Chains” a set of recommended actions for businesses to strengthen respect for women’s rights while addressing adverse risks to businesses in their supply chains. Companies have important roles in addressing the unique risks and challenges women face within complex supply chains. The practical recommendations for companies are on responsible business conduct, including developing risk management plans and grievance mechanisms, and engaging stakeholders to respect women’s rights across supply chains.
To view the recommended set of actions, please visit: https://www.state.gov/managing-risks-to-women-in-supply-chains/. For more information, please contact the Economic and Business Affairs Bureau’s public diplomacy office at EPPDMedia@state.gov or follow us on Twitter @EconAtState.