Nigerian Exchange Group of Companies joined over 100 securities exchanges around the world to celebrate the 2022 International Women’s Day and Ring the Bell for Gender Equality in collaboration with International Finance Corporation (IFC), Sustainable Stock Exchanges (SSE) Initiative, United Nations (UN) Women, United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) and World Federation of Exchanges (WFE) on Tuesday, 8 March 2022.

The event, themed “Break the Bias: Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow” was headlined by the Honorable Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen (OFR) and Honorable Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Amb. Mariam Katagum. It brought stakeholders together to explore the key issues that could facilitate progress towards gender equality through policy and finance.

In his opening remarks, the Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Exchange Group Plc (NGX Group), Mr. Oscar N. Onyema, OON said, “The global finance industry has a critical role to play in achieving gender equality. As the world clamours for increased reallocation of finance to address the Sustainable Development Goals, climate change and other pressing issues, there is a pressing need for stakeholders to reconsider the role of finance in addressing gender issues. If promoting gender issues was conceived as a business opportunity or a transaction, favourable policies would need to be implemented to enable investors recoup their investments. At NGX Group of Companies, we remain committed to playing our part by implementing various initiatives aimed at promoting gender diversity and empowering women”.

Speaking on the potential of collaboration to promote gender equality, Chief Executive Officer, Temi Popoola, said, “We recognize our strategic position as the engine of growth of Africa’s largest economy and we leverage this unique position to promote the adoption of sustainable business practices, and reporting as well as foster the growth of long-term sustainable finance. NGX Group of Companies is committed to championing efforts to advance gender equality across our ecosystem through the introduction of gender-responsive and inclusive financial instruments, advocacy for increased participation of women on boards and in senior management and support for capacity building initiatives to enable companies achieve their gender-related aspirations”.

Honorable Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen, expressed the willingness of the Ministry of Women Affairs to collaborate with NGX to promote gender equality. In her remarks, the Honorable Minister said, “Partnerships is at the heart of our intervention philosophy at the Ministry of Women Affairs. We welcome innovative initiatives that can create a future where women are economically empowered as business leaders and entrepreneurs and take on leadership positions in all spheres of endeavour. We are open to collaborating with Nigerian Exchange Limited, development partners here present and all relevant stakeholders, local and international, who can help create this future through innovative solutions, including gender bonds”.

While speaking on a fireside chat session on inclusive economic policies to break the gender bias in women’s employment and entrepreneurship, Ms. Tinuade Awe, Chief Executive Officer, NGX Regulation, lauded the economic and societal benefits of women’s financial inclusion, stating that, “Women’s financial inclusion can create greater economic stability and prosperity for women, their families, and their communities, by building assets, and enabling the ability to respond to family needs”. Honorable Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Amb. Mariam Katagum, highlighted the need for collaboration across board. She said, “the contribution of women to the Nigerian economy has been established. However, we have only 8 years to ensure we achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, hence there is need for urgency for Nigerian to move ahead in terms of gender equality”. She highlighted the potential of policy in improving the livelihoods of women through gender friendly trade policies, indicating that, domesticating the 2017 Buenos Aires Declaration on Women and Trade, which encourages member states to make trade and development policies more gender friendly, would help us go a long way in ensuring that women are better included in the financial system and the economy as a whole.

The event featured goodwill messages from Ms. Naomi Nwokolo, Executive Director, United Nations Global Compact Network Nigeria; Lansana Wonneh, Deputy Representative, Nigeria and ECOWAS, UN Women; and a keynote address by Kevin Njiraini, Regional Director, Southern Africa & Nigeria, themed “How Corporate Nigeria is Choosing to Challenge with the Nigera2Equal Programme”. The symposium also featured a panel session to highlight the potential of leveraging sustainable finance to break the gender bias in gender equality. The panel session moderated by Irene Robinson-Ayanwale, Divisional Head, Business Support Services, Nigerian Exchange Limited, featured local and international speakers including Tokunbo Ishmael, MD/CEO, Alitheia Capital; Katherin Mignano, Operations Officer, Inclusive Business, Gender and Economic Inclusion Group IFC; Robyn Oates, Sustainable Finance Specialist, UN Women.