As part of its active role in promoting gender equality and empowering women in the capital markets sector, Bahrain Bourse hosted a bell ringing ceremony in parallel with the celebration of International Women’s Day on Thursday 14th March 2019. Narjes Farookh Jamal, Chief Operating Officer and Abeer AlSaad, Director of the Capital Markets Supervision at the Central Bank of Bahrain rang the market-opening bell in the presence of the Governor of the Central Bank of Bahrain H.E. Rasheed Mohammed Al-Maraj and Chief Executive Officer of Bahrain Bourse alongside other senior officials and female executives from listed companies.
Commenting on this occasion, Abeer AlSaad, Director – Capital Markets Supervision at Central Bank of Bahrain stated, “This event contributes towards building an inclusive culture and gender balance at work place. We have taken pioneering steps in the field of women’s empowerment, developing women’s capabilities and enabling their participation in society across various sectors. To ensure gender equality, the CBB has issued necessary directions to all financial institutions to provide equal job opportunities and benefits to both men and women employees. Our determination to establish a society which provides for equal opportunity to both men and women is reflected in the increased participation of women in the workforce. The CBB has also taken measures to provide opportunity to women across hierarchy levels wherein 45% of all employees at the CBB are women and 75% of staff at the Capital Markets Supervision Directorate are women. Looking forward, we hope to see more women in senior management and decision making positions, particularly in the financial and banking sector.”
AlSaad also added, “Let us not lose sight of the fact that the Financial Sector contributes 16.7% to the GDP, the second largest contributor to Bahrain’s real GDP and that Bahrain has remained one of the leading financial market hubs in the region for more than 40 years. The growth story of Bahrain’s financial sector reflects the capability, competency and determination of 35% of Bahraini women and their contribution cannot be undermined.”
On her part, Narjes Farookh Jamal, Chief Operating Officer commented: “Women’s economic empowerment is a key driver of sustainable development as well as a key corporate sustainability issue. Locally, we are committed to the Equal Opportunities Committee initiative spearheaded by the Supreme Council for Women. At a more global level, we are committed to the Sustainability Stock Exchanges initiative, of which gender equality is a pivotal factor. Ideally, we would like to see more gender diversity at C-suite level as well as Board of Directors level within the capital markets. ”
Bahrain Bourse has joined 83 other global exchanges to mark the occasion over a week of bell-ringing activities for the first time since its establishment, in partnership with the United Nations Sustainable Stock Exchanges (SSE) Initiative, the World Federation of Exchanges, IFC, UN Global Compact, UN Women. The event is being held for the fifth consecutive year globally, and this year Bahrain Bourse participated in the event for the first time.
Held throughout March, these bell-ringing events aim to raise awareness on women’s economic empowerment and the opportunities for the private sector to advance gender equality and sustainable development. As part of the events, participants are encouraged to make commitments to improve gender equality in their markets, improving diversity in senior management and on the boards of directors, or improving transparency on gender policies and practices.
It is noteworthy that Bahrain Bourse has recently announced that is has officially joined the United Nations Sustainable Stock Exchanges (SSE) initiative to demonstrate its voluntary commitment to promoting sustainable and transparent capital markets. The SSE initiative focuses on sustainable disclosure of environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors.