Private Sector & Corporate Power
Corporations and other private sector actors are often influential players in defining global and national economic agendas. The rising importance of transnational corporations on the global stage, and in a broad range of critical sectors in national economies, raises many challenges for democracy around the world. These companies have enormous power, often with little or no accountability, over many human, technological, and environmental resources. Corporations also have significant impacts on diverse areas of development from food security, to resource depletion to labour rights. Corporate media and technology companies have a huge impact on women’s rights and are often overlooked as targets for action. “Public-private partnerships” have become a mantra in many development circles yet their significance for women’s rights and environmental sustainability requires further exploration. Still, here to stay, the private sector is not homogeneous. It is a significant source of employment for many women and at times, small businesses have been allies for women’s rights campaigns. In some cases, efforts to ensure safe, fair working conditions for women and gender-equitable access to ‘supply chains’ are gaining ground with positive impacts for women’s rights.
How can we move beyond limited frameworks of “corporate social responsibility” to use human rights standards and mechanisms to hold corporations and other private sector actors accountable? What types of strategies—for example from labour organizing and campaigns around extractive industries—have been successful in changing the course of corporations?
Pye Jakobsson, Rose Alliance (Sweden) & Melissa Ditmore, APC Erotics Project
Nighat Dad, Bytes for All (Pakistan)