Friday, March 06, 2020 /05:43 PM
/ By NSE/ Header Image Credit: NSE
Good morning distinguished ladies, gentlemen, friends and colleagues. I would like to warmly welcome you all to the 2020 edition of The Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) International Women's Day symposium, themed "Each for Equal". I am especially grateful to our keynote speaker, panel discussants and all our guests for honouring us with their esteemed presence.
The celebration of International Women's Day has evolved over the years to become not only a day to validate the invaluable contributions of women in our society, but to explore the world of opportunities available to women and to empower them to reach their highest potential in all spheres of influence. This is a cause that the NSE is truly proud to support.
When I learnt of this year's theme, "Each for Equal", my mind raced to the implications of a truly equal and balanced world; a world where men and women make equal contributions to the society, enjoy equal opportunities, and even enjoy the same rewards and benefits. Going by the growing body of evidence out there, it is safe to conclude that the multiplier effect on families, businesses, communities, economies and ultimately, nations would be indeed phenomenal. For instance, the IMF estimates that if Nigeria was to reduce gender inequality, the economy could grow on average by as much as 1.25% points more. In addition, recent IMF studies estimate that closing the gender gap could boost GDP by 4% in both Canada and Japan, and by as much as 30% and 32% in Pakistan and Niger respectively.
Despite the identified benefits increased women participation is poised to deliver, our society continue to face an uphill task in achieving true gender parity. Data from UN Women shows that women are still less likely to participate in the labour market than men with a labour force participation rate of 48.5% for women and 75% for men. In addition, women are paid only 77% of what their counterpart males earn in the global workplace. Looking at leadership opportunities, it is appalling to note that only 5% of Fortune 500 CEOs today are women, highlighting the difficulties women face in attaining leadership positions.
These statistics do not deter us from contributing to the development of a world where women are empowered to reach their fullest economic capacity.
As a member of the Sustainable Stock Exchanges Initiative (SSEI), the Exchange prioritizes the issues of gender equality and we are working assiduously to accelerate the achievement of the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number 5 which seeks to empower all women and girls by 2030. In doing so, The Exchange has embarked on a series of activities including:
Looking ahead, the NSE continues to explore ways to advocate for gender parity issues. Plans are currently under way to launch the Nigeria2Equal Initiative, a 3-year project in which the IFC and NSE will collaborate to reduce employment and entrepreneurship gaps in Nigeria. The program will support the private sector to increase women's participation as leaders, employees, customers and entrepreneurs through favorable workforce policies and practices, products and services that target the women's market segment and deliberate measures that promote women's participation in corporate procurement.
At the symposium today, we will be privileged to listen to a diverse group of speakers who have recorded commendable achievements in their industry or have championed the cause for women empowerment with notable results. I am confident that all the speakers today have a first-hand experience of some of the unique challenges to gender equality in Nigeria and will inspire us all to greater levels of responsibility and responsiveness. I urge you to join me in participating fully in all sessions that will be presented today.
Let me once again use this opportunity to reiterate our commitment to narrowing both the global and local gender gap. We are mindful of the rate of progress and will continue to advocate for a collaborative approach to accelerating change both within the Exchange and among our members, issuers and other capital market stakeholders.
Ladies and Gentlemen, in line with the theme for this year's celebration, allow me to amplify the global International Women's Day message: "An equal world is an enabled world. Individually, we are all responsible for our own thoughts and actions - all day, every day. We can, therefore, actively choose to challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions, improve situations and celebrate women's achievements. Collectively, each one of us can help create a gender equal world. Let's all be Each for Equal."
Thank you for your kind attention and happy International Women's Day.