By Alex Ekemenah
Lagos, Nigeria – the Deputy British Deputy High Commissioner to Nigeria, Laure Beaufils, has disclosed that economic empowerment goes right to the heart of women’s rights.
She made this disclosure yesterday during the International Women’s Day symposium held at the Nigerian Stock Exchange, Lagos.
According to the Deputy Commissioner, “women make up only 5% of Fortune 500 CEOS. They account for only 24% of senior management positions around the world”.
In Nigeria, “only 15% of Nigerian women have a bank account or own land or a house compared to 85% of men. Only 7.2% of women own land they farm on resulting in limited access to finance”.
“Last year a big study of more than 21,000 public companies in 91 countries by the Peterson Institute and EY found that bringing more women into high management boosted profitability. It said a company with 30% female leadership could expect to add up to 6% to its net margin when compared with a similar business with no female leaders”.
“We know that when women do participate in the economy, they tend to be stuck in low paying, low status jobs. Globally women earn only ¾ as much as men – even at the same job, and with the same level of occupation. Women also tend to be over represented in less secure jobs – such as informal, temporary, or part time work. This is partly because they want more flexible work options and partly because they are locked out of higher status careers” Beaufils further stated.
She cited an IMF Article 4 report just published that estimated that if Nigeria were to raise its gender inclusivity to the level of regional peers, it could add an average of 1.25 percentage points to annual GDP growth. In addition, decreasing gender inequality could also help mitigate income inequality and help boost economic diversification.
Beaufils concludes that economic empowerment goes right to the heart of women’s rights – “because it’s about jobs but it’s also about access to bank accounts, it’s about tackling violence against girls and women, it’s about overcoming discriminatory laws and reducing the burden of unpaid domestic work”.
Meanwhile, in his opening remarks at the event, Mr. Oscar Onyema, the Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) disclosed that the Exchange have a female to male employees’ ratio of 1:2.
The NSE is “taking key steps to increase the number of women in our employ, especially those in leadership positions. Early this year, we promoted Ms. Tinuade Awe to Executive Director, Regulations, and consequently she is the number two person at the Exchange. More importantly, the Exchange took steps to address the lack of female representation on our National Council (the highest governing body at the Exchange) by electing three eminent female members at the last AGM. Today, we have 23% female representation as against 0% representation in 2016.”
Onyema stressed the importance of this year’s theme for the celebration of IWD. “It is important to state that Press for Progress is not just another theme for another edition of the International women’s day. It is a call to action to spur women and men into taking bold steps towards closing the gender gap”.
“As we Press for Progress in our careers, we must also commit to press for progress in all areas of our lives. We cannot give up, not now, not ever. We must push and push until we progress and break the norms that hold us from reaching our targets in gender equality.
“We must press together, we must progress together, no matter the storm, for as long as we are together, be rest assured we will overcome”, Onyema concluded.
By Alex Ekemenah