(New York, 9 March 2015) – Stock exchanges from around the world joined UN Women, UN Global Compact and the Sustainable Stock Exchanges (SSE) Initiative to ring their opening or closing bells in support of gender equality and to highlight the pivotal role of the private sector in empowering women in the workplace, marketplace and community.
In celebration of the 20th anniversary of the World Conference on Women in Beijing and International Women’s Day, the Bombay Stock Exchange, Borsa Istanbul, Egyptian Exchange, Nasdaq, Nigerian Stock Exchange, OMX Stockholm (part of Nasdaq group) and Warsaw Stock Exchange, came together in a global effort to raise awareness about the importance of gender equality to business and recognize how the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) – a joint initiative of UN Women and UN Global Compact – can support action on advancing gender equality. In addition to the aforementioned exchanges and organizations, each event was organized locally with the support of UN Women Country Offices and Global Compact Local Networks.
The series of global events began with the Egyptian Exchange on 2 March and culminated on 9 March with a bell ringing at NASDAQ in New York. The global bell ringing events are taking place as part of a broader effort to take stock of where women stand in the world today, raise awareness on the importance of gender quality and enhance global action. The events brought together business leaders, investors, Government and UN officials, and other key stakeholders. In parallel, NYSE also hosted two bell ceremonies to bring attention to this important issue, with one hosted by Citi and one with Women in ETFs.
On 10-11 March, WEPs stakeholders will build on the momentum of these global events by bringing together leaders from business, Government, the UN and civil society for the 2015 WEPs Event, Unlimited Potential: Business Partners for Gender Equality. Participants will reflect on the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action – the 1995 comprehensive global framework for women’s empowerment- and chart a path toward to a sustainable, equal, and inclusive future. Similarly, UN Women will be holding a series of events focused on gender equality from 6-20 March.
From the political to economic spheres, progress has been made, but not enough. Investing in women and girls, and enabling their full economic participation is important for business and society to build strong economies and more stable and just societies, improve the quality of life for families and communities, and achieving sustainable development.
Quotes from Around the World
Dr. Mohammed Omran, Chairman of the Egyptian Exchange stated that the Egyptian Exchange has a clear interest in empowering women to play leading roles in the Egyptian capital market system, adding “…the private sector plays an essential and pivotal role in supporting women’s economic empowerment all around the world. You could act as a leading entity to change the wage gap, ensure equality in the workplace and to support women as leaders in the business sector”.
“GPW (Warsaw Stock Exchange) sees its role in the creation of standards of conduct. In the document ‘Best Practices of GPW Listed Companies’ we included recommendations for public companies and their shareholders concerned with ensuring balanced participation of women in the companies’ authorities. We also treat the issue of equality between women and men in business sector as part of responsible business. Companies that pay attention to these issues, among others, are likely to be included in the RESPECT Index – our prestigious index of responsible companies” says Paweł Tamborski, President of the Management Board of GPW.
Borsa İstanbul Acting CEO Hüseyin Zafer said in his speech, “While the government offers the required infrastructure for economic growth and development through education policies, labor laws and other similar steps, companies should, through their human resources policies, take the necessary steps to reinforce gender equality in Turkey. Taking an active role in efforts related to education, sustainability and social responsibility efforts, Borsa İstanbul will continue to support every project that brings forth equality of opportunity for women, in cooperation with its stakeholders. We will continue to contribute to reinforce the awareness on the side of companies and investors”.
In his opening remarks, the Executive Director, Business Development, Nigerian Stock Exchange, Mr. Haruna Jalo-Waziri, remarked that, “achieving gender equality is important for workplaces not only because it is fair and the right thing to do, it is also vitally important to the bottom line of a business and to the productivity of our nation”. He noted that “the private sector plays an essential and pivotal role in supporting women’s economic empowerment all around the world. At The Nigerian Stock Exchange we are making it happen, as we have women filling 32% of the workforce and we are still working at improving that figure”.
Sounding the Closing Gong of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, the UN Women, Country Programme Director, Dr. Grace Ongile said, “As we mark this year’s International Women’s Day, I wish to remind us that it’s time to stimulate national and international government agencies into re-framing, reviewing, where applicable, policies that will realise gender equity and equality. We hope this Closing Gong ceremony for gender equality will be the starting point of a fast tracked journey to equality in rights and opportunity for Nigerian women.”
Mr. Ashishkumar Chauhan, MD & CEO of Bombay Stock Exchange said, “BSE is pleased to associate with the UN Women initiative in this regard. Gender equality is a very important issue especially for a developing country like India. Working in this area to provide dignity and skills to women and recognizing successful role models is important to improve gender equality. BSE is honored to be associated with the ringing of the bell at various exchanges on International Women’s Day.”
Cathy Engelbert, CEO-elect of Deloitte LLP rang the opening bell at NASDAQ in New York, remarking, “It is an honor and privilege to ring the opening bell at the NASDAQ for International Women’s Day. Not only did Deloitte contribute to the development of the seven Women’s Empowerment Principles, we’ve integrated them into our business as part of our commitment to promote gender equality worldwide.”
“Investors around the world are realizing that not only is furthering gender equality the right thing to do, but it is also the economically smart thing to do,” said James Zhan, the Director of Investment and Enterprise at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). “Enabling women’s potential is central to ensuring sustainable and inclusive development, as well as boosting economic growth.”
While in New York, Fiona Reynold, Managing Director of the UN-supported Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), noted, “Gender equality is an issue that impacts everyone, from diversity in board rooms to equal opportunities for education. We have come far, but we have so much further to go. PRI welcomes the leadership taken by the exchanges, business representatives and UN officials who brought together these global bell ringing events and calls on all capital market actors to take their own steps toward gender equality”.
“From Bombay to New York, bells are ringing for gender equality,” said Georg Kell, Executive Director, UN Global Compact. “As an organizer of both the WEPs and the SSE initiative, the UN Global Compact is encouraged to see exchanges, companies, investors, Governments and the UN coming together to take on this critical issue of gender equality. If we are to ensure women’s full and effective participation, and equal opportunity at all levels of political, economic and public life, we need the full commitment and collaboration of all stakeholders.”
About the Women’s Empowerment Principles
The Women’s Empowerment Principles – Equality Means Business is a joint initiative of UN Women and the UN Global Compact. The Principles outline seven steps for business on how to empower women in the workplace, marketplace and community. The Principles highlight that empowering women to participate fully in economic life across all sectors and throughout all levels of economic activity is essential to build strong economies; establish more stable and just societies; achieve internationally agreed goals for development, sustainability, and human rights; improve quality of life for women, men, families and communities; and propel business’ operations and goals. Learn more at www.weprinciples.org.
About UN Women
In July 2010, the United Nations General Assembly created UN Women, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. In doing so, UN Member States took an historic step in accelerating the Organization’s goals on gender equality and the empowerment of women. The creation of UN Women came about as part of the UN reform agenda, bringing together resources and mandates for greater impact. The main roles of UN Women are to support inter-governmental bodies, such as the Commission on the Status of Women, in their formulation of policies, global standards and norms; to help Member States to implement these standards, standing ready to provide suitable technical and financial support to those countries that request it, and to forge effective partnerships with civil society; and to lead and coordinate the UN system’s work on gender equality as well as promote accountability, including through regular monitoring of system-wide progress. Learn more at www.unwomen.org.