International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, has partnered with Dhaka Stock Exchange (DSE) and UN Women to "Ring the Bell for Gender Equality".
It is a global initiative linked with International Women's Day that promotes women's participation in the global economy to catalyze sustainable and inclusive private sector growth.
The Ring the Bell event also marked the release of the first report on 'Women on Boards of Companies listed on the Dhaka Stock Exchange', featuring a directory comprising of 507 women board directors out of a total 2,871 directors of DSE-listed companies in 2018.The directory contains details of board positions, skill qualifications, and experience of the female board members representing different sectors including banking and finance, textile, and pharmaceuticals.
"When more women work, economies grow. Closing the gender gap and empowering women is particularly important for a country like Bangladesh to unleash the full growth potential," said Shoko Ishikawa, Country Representative, UN Women.
The theme of this year's UN Women - a global partner of Ring the Bell event - also focuses on innovative ways in which the private sector can advance gender equality and women's empowerment.
For the fourth time in a row, Bangladesh was able to hold the top position among South Asian countries in ensuring gender equality. As indicated by the Global Gender Gap Index 2018, issued by the World Economic Forum, the country has closed almost 72 percent of its overall gender gap, with advances in every aspect of the Economic Opportunity and Participation indicator. However, there is a widening gender gap in labour force participation.
"According to global research, board diversity can have positive impacts on financial performance, shareholder value, stakeholder satisfaction, investor confidence, and reputation. The Dhaka Stock Exchange is uniquely positioned to play an important part in promoting women leadership in listed companies ,with the support of investors and the private sector," said K.A.M. Majedur Rahman, Managing Director, Dhaka Stock Exchange Ltd.
Globally, women hold 15 percent of board seats but only 4 percent of global CEO and board chair positions. A recent IFC research on women on boards found that 18 percent of listed company board directors in 2018 were women - up from 17 percent in 2017.The research also highlights continued progress of women as independent directors - from 3 percent last year to 4 percent now.
"Increased inclusion of women in the workforce and in leadership roles has a positive effect on companies' financial performance. The benefits are clear, we need to make them widely known," said Wendy Werner, IFC Country Manager for Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Nepal.
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