Kuwait, 7 March 2019: Boursa Kuwait marked International Women's Day 2019 on 8 March by hosting a bell-ringing ceremony to raise awareness about the critical role businesses and markets around the world can play in advancing Sustainable Development Goal 5 on gender equality and women’s empowerment.
The event was conducted in partnership with the General Secretariat of the Supreme Council for Planning and Development (GSSCPD), the Kuwait University Women’s Studies and Research Center (WSRC), the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Held as part of the global ‘Ringing the Bell for Gender Equality’ initiative, which is a partnership between UN Women, UN Global Compact, Sustainable Stock Exchanges Initiative, International Finance Corporation, Women in ETFs and the World Federation of Exchanges, the event aimed to raise awareness among the private sector and the public on the importance of closing the gender inequality gap at workplaces. Boursa Kuwait also hosted Ring the Bell in 2018, being one of the first exchanges across the GCC to do so.
Reaffirming the company’s commitment to promote and enhance diversity and inclusion in the workplace, Boursa Kuwait’s CEO, Mr. Khaled Abdulrazzaq AlKhaled, signed the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) ‘CEO Statement of Support’ highlighting the global message on “Equality Means Business” and the critical role businesses can play in the attainment of Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals.
The WEPs, launched in 2010 by UN Women and the UN Global Compact, are a set of seven principles offering practical guidance to businesses on how to empower women in the workplace, marketplace and community, thereby bringing significant benefits to companies and societies.
Since its launch in Kuwait last year, a number of prominent Kuwaiti CEOs have endorsed the initiative and committed to advance women’s economic empowerment in their respective companies.
Speaking at the event, Mr. Khaled Abdulrazzaq AlKhaled, Chief Executive Officer, Boursa Kuwait, commented: “At Boursa Kuwait, we are proud to have joined leading global organizations in commemorating the International Women's Day to reiterate our support to endeavors focused on advancing gender equality. As a responsible organization that champions sustainability and inclusivity across all our operations, Boursa Kuwait has always remained at the forefront promoting the greater participation of women in the private sector as we believe that equal opportunities will lead to stronger bottom-line results for businesses and increased and inclusive growth in economies. We also believe that a diverse and inclusive workforce is critical to higher productivity, customer retention, as well as to drive innovation at workplaces. Closely aligned with our pledge of support to the Women’s Empowerment Principles, we will continue to promote gender diversity in senior management and on the boards of directors of listed companies and strengthen efforts to improve transparency on gender policies and practices within our organization and our market participants.”
Dr. Khaled Mahdi, the Secretary General of the General Secretariat of the Supreme Council of Planning and Development noted “"We honour this initiative as a symbol of the integration of women into the national economy, recognizing this partnership in word and deed and as an affirmation of the policies of the National Development Plan and its pillars to promote socioeconomic integration in the economic and political components."
At the forefront of innovation, the private sector is increasingly recognizing that advancing women’s empowerment through business operations and value chains means better talent, higher productivity, more customers, and a stronger bottom line. Business leaders around the world are committing to this initiative by signing Statement of Support and utilizing the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) as a critical tool for businesses to empower women in the workplace and contribute to national sustainable development.
Dr. Lubna Al Kazi, Director of Women’s Research and Studies Center, said: “This event highlights the need of greater participation of women in the private sector to sustainable development. Women in Kuwait are highly educated and would make have effective partners in decision making and lead the companies to greater productivity. Kuwaiti women have to play a greater role in private sector and it has to begin now”. Dr. AlKazi also elaborated “the Stock Exchange, Boursa Kuwait, together with its partners, are playing a very important role in working towards women’s empowerment, sustainable development and inclusive growth”
In line with. Business leaders will be encouraged to join Women Empowerment Principles community and use the WEPs as guidance for actions that we can all take in the workplace, marketplace and community to empower women and benefit both businesses and people.
UN Women and UNDP continue supporting the State of Kuwait in the efforts to promote women’s economic empowerment. At the ceremony Mr.Khaled Shahwan - UNDP Kuwait Deputy Resident Representative noted “The State of Kuwait is keen to continue pushing towards the economic empowerment of women in collaboration with its UN partners and the strategic collaboration framework between UNDP and GSSCPD, stemming from its belief in the importance of women’s empowerment and advancement of their civil, political, economic, and social rights, and in appreciation to the role of the UN in protecting women’s rights and boosting international cooperation in this regard.”
Representing UN Women Regional Office for Arab States, Ms. Nicolla Hewitt, added “The private sector has a pivotal role in advancing gender equality and the empowerment of women. Working hand in hand with committed private sector leaders is the only way forward to ensure women and men have the opportunity to contribute equally to sustainable national development. We are very pleased that the Boursa Kuwait is committing to gender equality through signing the WEPs.”
Despite continued efforts towards empowering women, progress on gender equality has been modest and slow globally. As girls and women have equal access to education in only 25 countries, women represent more than two-thirds of the world's 750 million adults without basic literacy skills. The gender pay gap worldwide stands at 23 percent with women taking home 1 out of 10 of global income, even though they account for two-thirds of global working hours. In 2017, women’s participation in senior management of companies globally was only 24% and their average representation on boards was 15% on boards. It is worth adding that only 4% of companies had a female chairperson or a female CEO.