14 Mar 2022, 16:45

IFC, DSE, UN push for greater participation of women in leadership

DHAKA, March 14, 2022 (BSS) - Celebrating International Women's Day, IFC has
partnered with the Dhaka Stock Exchange (DSE), UN Women, and United Nations
Global Compact for the seventh consecutive year to 'Ring the Bell for Gender

While emphasizing women's role in shaping a more equal future, the annual
event highlights how greater participation of women in the economy can spur
sustainable and inclusive growth.

The commemoration event came as new figures showed there was an increase in
the percentage of women who are independent directors on listed companies
from five percent in 2020 to six percent, despite the impact of COVID-19,
which has disproportionately affected women.

A 2020 IFC-DSE study showed at the time around 18 percent of listed company
board directors were women, that has remained the same. In terms of women on
boards of listed companies, Bangladesh still tops the South Asia region, said
a press release.

Speaking at the event, Nathalie Chuard, the Ambassador of Switzerland to
Bangladesh said, "As a committed and longstanding bilateral partner,
Switzerland gives particular importance to gender equality and social
inclusion in all of its engagements in Bangladesh."

Tarique Amin Bhuiyan, Managing Director, DSE, Bangladesh Securities and
Exchange Commission (BSEC) said the Dhaka Stock Exchange remained fully
committed to closing the gender gap and promoting women's role in leadership,
particularly in listed companies.

Meanwhile in a new joint report on, "How Exchanges Can Advance Gender
Equality: Updated Guidance and Best Practice," the UN Sustainable Stock
Exchanges (SSE) initiative and IFC identify three broad areas where exchanges
can play a role in advancing gender equality.

These include the promotion of gender-focused and/or gender-aware products
and services, strengthening of market performance on gender equality and
leading by example.

"Investing in women's economic empowerment is both the right thing to do and
the smart thing to do as it sets a direct path towards gender equality,
poverty eradication and inclusive economic growth," said Gitanjali Singh,
Head of Office, a.i. UN Women Bangladesh.

The report offers guidance on implementing gender-responsive action plans,
such as supporting the listing of gender-focused financial instruments,
addressing barriers to gender equality on boards and senior management,
promoting increased transparency on gender performance through expanded
environmental, social, and governance (ESG) disclosure, and setting gender
targets for listed companies.

"IFC has long been engaged in efforts at the capital markets level to support
women as economic actors," said Martin Holtmann, IFC Country Manager for
Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal.

Earlier in March, IFC and the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs
(SECO) also announced a new program that included Bangladesh to spur private
sector investment in developing countries by leveraging sound environmental
and social and governance (ESG) practices.

The Women's Day event included a panel discussion on the business case for
gender diversity on boards. Participants included Zareen Mahmud Hosein,
Partner Snehasish Mahmud & Co., Melita Mehjabeen, associate professor, IBA,
University of Dhaka and Shamarukh Fakhruddin, Director, Urmi Group.

The discussion was moderated by Shahamin Zaman, Executive Director, Global
Compact Network Bangladesh (GCNB) and Md. Eunusur Rahman, Chairman, Dhaka
Stock Exchange Limited provided closing remarks.

The global partnership with Sustainable Stock Exchange, IFC, UN Women, UN
Global Compact, began in 2015 to Ring the Bell for Gender Equality and this
year more than 120 stock exchanges have been taking part in events around the
world to raise awareness for gender equality.



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