There is a new twist in the struggle to increase levels of gender equality, particularly in the business world.
Equipped with data, experts are suggesting that closing gender gaps in labor markets reduces poverty and increases access to education for children.
There is also evidence indicating that empowering increases agricultural production and economic growth.
The McKinsey Global Institute has found out that US$28 trillion or 26% could have been be added to the global GDP in 2025 if women had participated in the labor market at the same rate with men.
Going by the above theory, as part of the activities to mark the upcoming International Women’s Day 2017, the Rwanda Stock Exchange (RSE) yesterday joined over 40 other exchanges across the globe to ring the bell that commenced trading for Gender Equality.
The campaign is being pushed under the theme, ‘Be bold for change’. This exercise intends to raise awareness about the importance of gender equality to both business and sustainable development.
Rwanda Development Board Chief Executive Officer, Hon. Clare Akamanzi, rang the bell to commence the day’s trading.
She suggested that firms ought to play a significant role in reducing the gap.
“We need to know how we are doing in terms of data. According to the Peterson Institute, if you have 30 per cent of women in senior leadership positions in a company you expect to get around six per cent net profit which is very possible,” Akamanzi said.
Some businesses have already began adopted the idea. The Rwanda Stock Exchange for example together with 40 global exchanges, has joined the UN Global Compact, Sustainable Stock Exchanges initiative (SSE), World Federation of Exchanges and Women in ETFs in raising awareness about the importance of gender equality to both business and sustainable development.
CEO for Rwanda Stock Exchange, Pierre Celestin Rwabukumba said the aim was to have exchanges across the globe ring their market opening or closing bell to draw attention to the critical role businesses and markets can play in closing the gender inequality gap.
“Through the SSE initiative that we joined in 2015, we are part of the attainment of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) among which include promoting gender equality, he said.
At the moment, stock exchanges are promoting gender diversity on the boards and management of listed companies and to ensure accessibility of capital market services to female entrepreneurs to mention but a few.
The UN Women Deputy Representative to Rwanda, Fatou Aminata, who attended the event, said that gender inequality poses a critical economic challenge.
“There is strong evidence showing that women earn less, have fewer assets and are largely concentrated in vulnerable and low-paying activities,” she said.
Globally, Aminata said, the gap between women and men’s labor force participation is 26%; women on average are paid 24% less than men. “In developing countries, 75 per cent of women’s employment is informal and unprotected.”
Aminata believes adjustments must happen on all sides if the globe is to increase the number of people able to engage in decent work, to keep the pool inclusive and to realize the benefits that will come to all from the equal world envisaged in the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.