Stock exchanges across the Arab States region rang the bell for gender equality on International Women’s Day 2021

Date: Thursday, April 15, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has put an unprecedented strain on the global economy and public health systems. The crisis has highlighted and magnified inequalities and the multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination faced by women and girls. The resultant labour market, social and economic crisis poses a serious threat to women’s employment and livelihoods, especially in precarious informal and non-essential sectors.

Each year, on the occasion of International Women’s Day, stock exchanges around the globe “Ring the Bell for Gender Equality” to raise awareness about the opportunities for the private sector to advance gender equality and sustainable development, and to contribute to building a new, sustainable and inclusive economy. The “Ring the Bell for Gender Equality” event series is a partnership of the Sustainable Stock Exchanges Initiative, together with UN Women, the World Federation of Exchanges, the United Nations Global Compact, IFC, and Women in ETFs.

Ring the Bell events in the Arab States region highlighted the important role of the private sector to advance gender equality and support achievement of Sustainable Development Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through the economic recovery to the pandemic, in particular SDG5: achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls, as well as SDG8: decent work and economic growth.

Recognising that gender equality is good business sense, increasing numbers of companies in the Arab States region are committing to the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs), a set of seven principles for businesses to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment in the workplace, marketplace and community. To date, six stock exchanges in the region have committed to the WEPs, in Egypt, Kuwait, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and United Arab Emirates; while globally more than 4,000 CEOs have committed to the WEPs.

On the occasion of the Ring the Bell event in Bahrain, Ms. Hala Al Ansari, Secretary-General of the Supreme Council for Women of the Kingdom of Bahrain reflected on the results of government and private sector collaborating to promote women’s participation and leadership to advance Agenda 2030 and the SDGs. 

Speaking during the seventh Ring the Bell event hosted by the Egyptian Exchange, Dr. Mohamed Farid, the Chairman of the Egyptian Exchange noted that “empowering women calls for developing the work environment and motivating women to increase their participation in the labor market; thus unleashing their energies and capabilities to play a greater role in achieving economic and social development goals.”

In Jordan, Mr. Mazen Wataifi, Chief Executive Officer of the Amman Stock Exchange (ASE), explained that the 2021 event recognized the distinguished efforts of Jordanian women in leadership positions and women-led organizations during the challenging period of the COVID-19 pandemic, including their important contribution to more inclusive decisions-making, policies and legislative reforms.

The Kuwait Stock Exchange held its third Ring the Bell event, combined with a panel discussion covering the implementation of the Women’s Empowerment Principles in Kuwait. Dr. Khaled Mahdi, Secretary-General of the General Secretariat of the Supreme Council for Planning and Development reiterated the commitment of the State of Kuwait to implement SDG 5, including through promoting the uptake of the Women’s Empowerment Principles by the private sector. Dr. Lubna Al-Kazi of Kuwait University 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”.

Speaking at the Ring the Bell event organised by the Casablanca Stock Exchange in Morocco, Mr. Tarik Senhaji, General Manager of the Casablanca Stock Exchange said, "in the current context of economic recovery, gender parity is a primary necessity, whether in access to financing or in access to management and leadership positions within the company.” Mr. Senhaji noted that women represent 51% of the Casablanca Stock Exchange workforce and hold 33% of the managerial positions.

The CEO of the Palestine Exchange, Mr. Ahmad Aweida noted that the Palestine exchange was among the first private sector companies to sign the WEPs. He said “we have become more resilient and we have adapted greatly to the reality created by the global Pandemic. There is no doubt that this reality has directly affected our efforts to achieve gender equality, which cast a shadow over many aspects of women's lives in Palestine, including the increased burdens of household responsibilities and care work, the health and education of family members.”

In the United Arab Emirates, the Dubai Gold and Commodities Exchange and the Dubai Financial Market both participated in the Ring the Bell event, highlighting their active role in empowering women in capital markets and contributing to the implementation of the SDGs and achievement of gender equality. The Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange also held a Ring the Bell event.

Ring the Bell events were also held by the Iraq Stock Exchange; the Qatar Stock Exchange; the Saudi Stock Exchange, Saudi Arabia; and the Tunis Stock Exchange, Tunisia.

The theme for International Women’s Day 2021 “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world” celebrated the tremendous efforts by women and girls around the world to shape a more equal future and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ring the Bell in the Arab States in 2021