International Women’s Day

Kuwait Rings the Bell to mark International Women’s Day

Date: Wednesday, March 17, 2021

On the occasion of International Women’s Day 2021, Boursa Kuwait, the national stock exchange of Kuwait, rang the bell for women’s empowerment, joined by government, academia, private sector and civil society partners to highlight the important contribution that women make to vibrant, diverse and sustainable economies.

This was the third ‘Ring the Bell’ event hosted by Boursa Kuwait since 2018, organized in partnership with the General Secretariat of the Supreme Council for Planning and Development (GSSCPD), Kuwait University, UN Women and UNDP. Boursa Kuwait CEO, Mr. Mohammad Saud Al-Osaimi, said “on International Women’s Day, Boursa Kuwait is pleased to celebrate the role of women in today’s society, as a key contributor to the sustainable development of this country, working in tandem with the Kuwaiti government to empower her.”

The event included a discussion with prominent women leaders from the business community who have committed to the UN Women – UN Global Compact Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs), a set of seven Principles offering guidance to business on how to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment in the workplace, marketplace and community.

Guest speakers shared the steps they have taken to implement the WEPs, in particular Principle 3 on health, safety and wellbeing, and Principle 5 implement marketing practices that empower women, calling on all parties to commit and take action against discrimination and violence at workplace, in public and at home. More than 25 leading Kuwaiti companies have committed to the WEPs and pledged to promote women’s empowerment.

Dr. Khaled Mahdi, Secretary-General of the GSSCPD, thanked the Boursa Kuwait for hosting the event and noted “The Kuwait stock exchange has been among the first companies in Kuwait to sign the WEPs CEO Statement of support, launching a broader interest among private sector’s institutions to pledge their commitment to attracting, recruiting and training women by Kuwaiti companies.” Dr. Mahdi also highlighted the importance of men and women working together to advance women’s empowerment to achieve a bright future for all Kuwaitis. 

“We meet together today to renew our long-term pledge not only to women’s economic empowerment, but to raise the bar and to support women in taking their place at decision making levels. This is but to complement our faith in our true wealth, which is our human capital to lead the development work into the future. A sentiment of positive masculinity is growing wider and shall remain a driving force to leverage our potential investment into the future,” said Dr. Mahdi. 

Speaking on behalf of UN Women, Regional Director for the Arab States Ms. Susanne Mikhail, highlighted that the COVID-19 pandemic exposed, and further deepened, pre-existing inequalities in social, political, and economic spheres across the Arab States region. These gaps frequently have greatest impact on women and girls.

Ms. Mikhail congratulated Kuwait on its commitment to the WEPs and increasing women’s labour force participation. Noting that women’s rate of participation in the labor force in Kuwait is one of the highest in the region, Ms. Mikhail said “Kuwaiti women remain under-represented in senior management positions in both the public and private sectors. (…) The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of addressing issues comprehensively, and in partnerships. We are all together in the fight against the pandemic, and we jointly share the responsibility to build back better and create a world of equal opportunities, a world that is free of harassment and violence.” 

Ms. Shaikha Al-Bahar, Deputy Group CEO of the National Bank of Kuwait (NBK) Group emphasized the importance of equality to successful societies and economies, and explained that the National Bank of Kuwait is committed to empower women through opportunities for career development. She recalled that women have led the way for progress and their successes are an inspiration for future generations to contribute to more pros

Ms. Eman Al-Roudhan, CEO of Zain, outlined the steps the company took to retain women in the workforce in the face of the economic and social pressures provoked by the COVID-19 pandemic. She highlighted that there remains much work to be done in preparing women to take part in the business world, noting that women’s education must be prioritized. New modalities such as remote working and e-learning offer new opportunities to help women and the community achieve work-life balance.

Dr. Abeer Al-Omar, Senior Executive of Corporate Communication and Government Affairs of EQUATE, and Chairperson of its ELEVATE initiative, focused on the policies implemented by the company to address harassment and violence in the context of the pandemic. EQUATE’s global "ELEVATE" programme is sponsored by the company CEO Mr. Naser AlDossari and aims to promote equality and inclusivity in the work environment.

Ms. Salma Al Hajjaj, General Manager of Human Resources at Gulf Bank advised that initiatives designed to empower its female workforce have resulted in a 50 per cent reduction in the turnover rate for women employees in 2020.

Speaking to the theme of this year’s international celebration ‘women in leadership: achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world’, Dr. Lubna Al-Kazi of Kuwait University noted that Kuwaiti women university graduates are double the number of male graduates, and highlighted the importance of appointing more women as leaders in both the public and private sectors. “The private sector, especially partners committed to the Women’s Empowerment Principles have shown positive progress and we hope for more advances, including on anti-harassment in the workplace, in order to implement Sustainable Development Goal 5, on achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment”.

Companies that are interested to learn more about the Women’s Empowerment Principles and how they can support their businesses to grow and expand in a diversified economy in Kuwait or elsewhere, are invited to review the further information and FAQs online, or to reach out to UN Women for direct inquiries.

For further details, please contact Diego De La Rosa, Regional Communications Specialist: diego.delarosa@unwomen.org