ABSTRACT The achievement of women’s equality is an elusive goal, especially in developing economies, where states have been unable or unwilling to protect and promote women’s human rights and gender equality. Many argue that globalisation has heightened gender inequality. One response to this crisis is the United Nations corporate citizenship initiative: the Global Compact. This paper argues that the Global Compact has a strong gender equality mandate, which has not been fulfilled. The paper advances a number of reasons why this may be the case, including the lack of women’s participation at many levels, the pervasive nature of women’s inequality and the fact it may not be in the interests of Global Compact signatories to address this inequality. Despite the limitations of this voluntary initiative, it does have some potential to effect positive change. However, unless the pervasive and continued violation of women’s human rights is addressed by the Global Compact, the claim that it is a viable new form of global governance for addressing major social and economic problems is severely weakened.
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