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Dhaka Tribune

Women’s Day celebrated at DSE

IFC and the UN Sustainable Stock Exchanges initiative (UNSSE), in strategic collaboration with UN Women, are scaling up their work with exchanges in emerging markets

Update : 14 Mar 2023, 05:36 PM

Celebrating International Women's Day, IFC partnered with the Dhaka Stock Exchange (DSE), UN Women, United Nations Global Compact and the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) to ‘Ring the Bell for Gender Equality.'

The annual global initiative with nearly 120 stock exchanges around the world highlights the importance of gender equality for economic development and growth—an issue of even more importance given the economic and social consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic and the global economic downturn, according to a press release.

The commemoration event came as new figures showed a slight increase in the percentage of women on boards of listed companies on the Dhaka Stock Exchange from 18% in 2022 to 19% in 2023, with the percentage of women who are independent directors remaining at 6% compared to last year.

Speaking at the event, Corinne Henchoz Pignani, deputy head of Cooperation, Embassy of Switzerland in Bangladesh said: “Excluding women from the digital world has shaved $1 trillion from the gross domestic product of low and middle-income countries in the last decade. Without action, this loss will grow to $1.5 trillion by 2025. Ringing the bell with all of you this morning is the symbol of our joint commitment to keep reducing the gender gap in the financial, business and digital sectors. Together we will leave no women or girls behind.”

“The Dhaka Stock Exchange strongly believes in the good results that gender parity and diversification can bring through the empowerment of women, particularly in the areas of social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure with the help of efficient and productive use of digital technology,” said Professor Dr Hafiz Md Hasan Babu, chairman of Dhaka Stock Exchange.

Chief Guest at the event Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission (BSEC) Chairman Professor Shibli Rubayat-Ul-Islam said: “Our economy cannot move forward by keeping half the population at home. If you want your economy to grow, you have to activate the entire population.”

He added: “At present, the participation of women in the SME sector is also gradually increasing.”

Special Guest at the event BSEC Commissioner Dr Shaikh Shamsuddin Ahmed said: “In the capital market we have floated venture capital for women, reducing the cost of operating beneficiary owner accounts. We are also promoting the participation of women on boards.”

IFC's commitment to the Ring the Bell initiative is part of its strong focus on gender equality, which includes leveraging relationships with financial institutions to expand access to finance for female entrepreneurs and increase the number of women in leadership roles.

“Studies show that female talent is among the least utilized economic and business resources around the world, which makes no sense,” said Martin Holtmann, IFC country manager for Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal. 

“IFC's own research has found that more women in leadership are positively linked to higher environmental, social, and governance (ESG) standards, leading to improved business performance and spurring inclusive economic growth. That's why we're working in Bangladesh including with the stock exchange, regulators, and development partners like SECO to identify gender gaps, respond to the different crises, and prevent the gender gap from widening.” 

IFC and the UN Sustainable Stock Exchanges initiative (UNSSE), in strategic collaboration with UN Women, are scaling up their work with exchanges in emerging markets, advancing sound environmental, social and governance practices and promoting gender equality in listed companies. 

Last year, the partnership produced a guidance note on how exchanges can advance gender equality and three market monitors on gender equality in corporate leadership to rank stock exchanges by the gender balance of these issuers' boards and senior management. 

The partnership expects to launch training for exchanges and their listed companies focused on sustainable finance, including gender-lens investing, disclosure on gender metrics, and nexus with climate change.

The 2023 Ring the Bell for Gender Equality events mark the ninth year of a global partnership that includes IFC, UN Global Compact, UNSSE, UN Women and The World Federation of Exchanges.

The theme for International Women's Day 2023 was “DigitALL: Innovation and Technology for Gender Equality,” which recognizes and celebrates the women and girls who are championing the advancement of transformative technology and digital education. 

The event included a panel discussion on this year's theme with Sylvana Quader Sinha, CEO of Praava Health, Zeeshan Kingshuk Huq, director and group COO, of Agile Minds Group, Maliha Qadir, CEO, Shohoz, and Adnan Imtiaz Halim, CEO, Sheba.xyz and Priyanka Rani Sur, co-founder of Barno IT. 

The discussion was moderated by Ashani Chanuka Alles, Senior Operations Officer, IFC.

Farooq Sobhan, Bangladesh representative, UN Global Compact Network Bangladesh (UNGC), Tapati Saha, lead, Women's Economic Empowerment (WEE), UN Women, Lopa Rahman, Environmental, Social and Governance officer, IFC, and M Shaifur Rahman Mazumdar, managing director (Acting), Dhaka Stock Exchange Limited, also spoke at the event supported by the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) as part of their efforts to increase ESG and sustainability practices in Bangladesh.


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