On 25 May 2022, UN Women announced a partnership with the investment company BlackRock, “to cooperate in promoting the growth of gender lens investing”.
A collective of feminist activists and women’s rights organisations from around the world expressed their protest to this „corporate capture“ in a letter to UN WOMEN (see WEDO press release from 9.8.2022). The letter was supported by more than 500 NGOs, among them WIDE Austria and the European WIDE+ network.
Challenging corporate capture
BlackRock Inc. is a global player in financial investment. As highlighted in the NGO letter to UN WOMEN, BlackRock is „well-known for prioritizing profits over human rights or environmental integrity, to a degree that meets precisely the Secretary-General’s characterisation of ‘morally bankrupt’ global finance institutions as being amongst the chief threats to human equality and planetary integrity. Gendered historical and structural inequalities ensure that women and people who face multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination are the ones who suffer the harshest consequences of the social, economic, ecological and political impact of the work of asset management firms that concentrate the world’s wealth into investments in fossil fuels, military and civilian weapons, and sovereign debt. In a time of climate, environmental, health, political and economic crises, a partnership with an entity that is actively undermining international commitments to advance sustainable development, is a serious aberration. It departs from the human rights principles of the UN, from the SDGs priorities of building equality, peace, and sustainable development, and from UN Women’s mandate to promote gender equality. (…)
Civil society watchdog groups consistently identify BlackRock as among the worst performers on corporate accountability. Its climate and socially-destructive investments — particularly significant in impact because of the massive component they represent of BlackRock’s portfolio — have been called out by activists, including Indigenous leaders. Aware of the optics, BlackRock has attempted to ‘greenwash’ itself by acknowledging the seriousness of climate change – in a move that the New York Times has condemned as ‘climate hypocrisy’ that is intentionally misleading; worse than climate denial. The recently-announced partnership with UN Women suggests that UN Women has been recruited to BlackRock’s image-cleansing efforts – this time it is seeking to ‘pinkwash’ itself.“
Although UN WOMEN representatives told NGO activists in August that they would withdraw from the cooperation with BlackRock, NGOs have noted that the press release to date is still up on BlackRock’s website and there is no public statement on either side. Their demand to make the „Memorandum of Understanding“ between UN WOMEN and Blackrock public also remains unfulfilled. WEDO: „We remain concerned by the secrecy and opaque manner in which UN Women has handled the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with BlackRock. UN Women has refused to share its motivations and objectives for engaging in a partnership with BlackRock, and why this investment firm was considered appropriate for achieving those objectives. We were told that MoUs cannot be made public. This lack of transparency from a UN institution is disconcerting and contrary to its own calls to ‚take steps to prevent human rights harms resulting from corporate political engagement‘.“
Read the letter:
Background: Interview with Sanam Amin on #BlockBlackRock (26.8.0222):
For more information and updates: