Releasing Women’s Potential Has Multiplier Effect on Businesses, Says Onyema

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The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of The Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), Mr. Oscar N. Onyema has disclosed that unbridling the full potentials of women and girls by empowering them to be equal members of society has a multiplier effect on businesses, families, communities, and nations.

Onyema who was speaking at The Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) International Women’s Day symposium, with a theme: “Balance for Better”, in Lagos, added that as a member of the Sustainable Stock Exchanges Initiative (SSEI), The Exchange takes issues of gender equality and balance very seriously and it is playing its part to accelerate the achievement of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number five which seeks to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls by 2030.

“At The Exchange, International Women’s Day is an important day in our calendar. It is a day we pause to recognize women and girls’ achievements, take stock of the progress made in achieving Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment and discuss how we can accelerate gender parity.” The NSE CEO stressed.

He said, “In 2016, I signed the NSE’s commitment to the Women Empowerment Principles (WEPs), reinforcing our support for gender equality globally.

The WEPs are a set of seven principles that offer guidance to businesses on how to empower women in the Page two of three workplace, marketplace and community and advance SDG five and other gender-specific targets across the SDGs.”

According to him, The NSE’s gender-focused initiatives are all in line with the WEPs. For Principle one which concerns establishing high-level corporate leadership for gender equality, we have improved the representation of women on our Council by 27 percent.

Onyema disclosed that Women representation on Executive Management committee is currently at 20 percent. Adding that Women constitute 17.3percent for senior management positions. The Exchange has a ratio of 1:2 for female to male employees.

On Principle two: Treat all women and men fairly at work – respect and support human rights and nondiscrimination, NSE has implemented policies that promote fair opportunities for women, equal pay irrespective of gender and equal career opportunities.

He explained that in addition, The Exchange provides four months of maternity leave, which is one month above industry average.

The Exchange has also introduced a one week paternity leave for male employees so that they can take time off work to support mother and child.

“Moreover, NSE has a crèche where employees can bring their children from birth till they are 18 months old. Although the Global Gender Gap Report 2018 by the World Economic Forum shows some evidence of progress amongst the 149 countries that were indexed, the progress to close the gender gap is slow, as it will take 108 years to close the gender gap and 202 years to achieve parity in the workforce.

To me, these timelines are not encouraging, especially when you recognize that it will take incredible scientific advancements in age longevity for any of us and quite possibly our children to be around when the gender gap becomes a thing of history, based on current trajectories.” Onyema emphasized.

He observed that International Women’s Day marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity by taking groundbreaking actions that truly drive the greatest change for women. The global theme for this year’s International Women’s Day therefore provides an opportunity to declare how we will balance our workplace and community for better. We need more urgency, more action to deliver faster results.

The way to do that is not to want someone else to act. We need to redouble our efforts and commitment as individuals as well as a community to living gender equity.

One way we can do this is by forcing ourselves to undertake an audit every time we do something. Page three of three. Not an audit on things we have done, but an audit about the thing we are going to do to accelerate women’s empowerment.

To build a sustainable future, people of all genders must be included in solutions and decision-making for improved, economic, social, and environmental well being.

It is critical that we continue to engage everyone actively in the fight against gender-based discrimination and violence. We have an opportunity to secure a better future and raised a new generation of women who will be key drivers of global development across industries as we set our sight on the fourth industrial revolution.

In his own words, the CEO said, “The NSE can play a crucial role to impress on our ecosystem, the business and investment community in Nigeria, the urgency of achieving gender parity.

“We can utilize every opportunity such as presented by this event to do some introspection and document useful suggestions on how to harness the innate capabilities of women by allowing them to flourish like their male counterparts.”

Meanwhile, globally, women continue to contribute to social, economic, cultural and political achievements, and we recognise that achieving gender equality and women’s rights is a moral obligation and a development imperative.

A growing body of evidence, including academic, policy, and private sector research, shows that empowering women, realising rights, and reducing gender gaps, is associated with higher economic growth, higher productivity and return on investments, and better organizational effectiveness.

Embedded in the symposium was a panel discussion of individuals from various spheres of social and economic activity, who have succeeded in their chosen professions.

They shared their unique journeys with participants while engaging in a focused deliberation that will further increase knowledge and awareness on innovative ways that can advance gender equality and the empowerment of women.

The CEO stated that all participants have the power to unleash gender equality, by ensuring that humanity contributes to the consolidation of prosperity, sustainability and peace for all. He lauded the Keynote speaker, panel discussants and all who were present at the event for making out time to celebrate with the NSE despite their busy schedules.




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