The Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE or The Exchange) joined the rest of the world on Monday, 8 March 2021 to commemorate International Women's Day (IWD) and the 7th Ring the Bell for Gender Equality. With the theme "Choose to Challenge", the event highlighted how Nigeria's private sector is challenging gender inequality through policies and activities that promote equal opportunities for women.
Speaking at the event, Chief Executive Officer, NSE, Mr Oscar N. Onyema OON, commented, "At the NSE, we are committed to playing our part by implementing various initiatives aimed at promoting gender diversity and empowering women. We do, however, recognise that there is a pressing need to do more to advance gender equality across our ecosystem. In this regard, one of our key initiatives is the 3-year Nigeria2Equal programme that we are implementing in collaboration with the International Finance Corporation (IFC). The program will support the private sector to increase women's participation as leaders, employees, customers, and entrepreneurs through favourable workforce policies and practices, products and services that target the women's market segment, and deliberate measures that promote women's participation in corporate value chains."
In delivering her goodwill remarks, the Chief, Intergovernmental Relations & Africa, United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), Ms. Olajobi Makinwa stated, "I welcome the theme of this IWD, Choose to Challenge. On this special day, I call on business leaders to choose to challenge the gender disparities that exist within organisations and set clear targets to address gender equality. This includes policies that ensure equal pay for work of equal value, address gender bias and prejudice, prevent violence and harassment, offer clear opportunities for career development, and ensure women are included in the decision-making process across all levels of leadership."
On her part, Member, National Council, NSE, Ms. Erelu Angela Adebayo noted that, "At the NSE, we will continue to celebrate women and create fair and equal opportunities for their growth and career advancement. It is imperative that we all consider the challenge ahead of us in achieving a gender equal world and recognise that we have a critical role to play in ensuring we create a post-pandemic future that fully includes and supports women. We must choose to challenge the gender norms and stereotypes and build a more inclusive society that ensures we make steady, collective progress towards empowering all women and girls by 2030 as enshrined by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)."
The symposium was headlined by Regional Director, Southern Africa & Nigeria, International Finance Corporation (IFC), Mr. Kevin Njiraini, who highlighted existing efforts to galvanise private sector participation in bridging the gender gap across all spheres of influence, particularly through the Nigeria2Equal initiative. The panel session further expounded on the topic, How Business Leaders are Choosing to Challenge Gender Inequality with eminent speakers including Ms. Eme Essien Lore, Nigeria Country Manager, IFC; Ms. Oluwasoromidayo George, Chairperson, United Nations Global Compact Network Nigeria; Mr. Lansana Wonneh, United Nations Deputy Country Representative, Nigeria and ECOWAS, UN Women; Mr. Patrick Akinwuntan, Managing Director/Regional Executive, Ecobank Nigeria; and Ms. Ivana Osagie, Founder, Professional Women Roundtable (PWR) serving as moderator.
The event culminated in the 'Ring the Bell' for Gender Equality which was of particular significance to The Exchange given the advancement in the NSE's demutualisation which suggests that this will be the last International Women's Day that will be commemorated as the entity called the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE). Headlined by the 2nd Vice President, National Council, NSE, Ms. Catherine Nwakaego Echeozo, the bell ringing ceremony honoured the women leaders who currently serve on the National Council of the NSE as well as the newly appointed women leaders who will serve on the Boards of the Nigerian Exchange Group Plc and its subsidiaries.
The virtual event was organised in partnership with the World Federation of Exchanges (WFE), Sustainable Stock Exchange Initiative (SSEI), International Finance Corporation (IFC), United Nations (UN) Women, and the United Nations Global Compact Network Nigeria (GCNN). It featured participants from corporate, education, government, and non-governmental sectors and was brought to an end by the Divisional Head, Shared Services, NSE, Mr. Bola Adeeko.