The Securities and Exchange Commission(SEC), Nigerian Exchange Limited (NGX) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) have all pushed for more gender-focused initiatives that will create increased opportunities for women in leadership, employment, and entrepreneurship in the Nigerian private sector.
They made the push for these initiative during the inaugural edition of the Gender Leader Awards (GLA) held in Lagos. Being implemented under the Nigeria2Equal (N2E) programme, the GLA is designed to recognise and celebrate private sector companies leading the way in gender equality performance. The hybrid event brought together captains of industry, capital market regulators, policymakers, and investors among others.
Speaking at the event, the governor, Lagos State, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu said the programme is transforming the landscape for gender equality across the nation, saying that no nation can achieve its full potential without harnessing the full opportunity women present.
He commended the companies who participated in the Nigeria2Equal programme, saying, “your unwavering dedication to reducing gender gaps and fostering a more equitable workplace serves as an inspiration for us all.
“As you celebrate your accomplishment, let us keep instilling beliefs around gender diversity and continue to challenge the status quo, break down barriers and ensure that men and women alike have equal opportunity to contribute to the growth and prosperity of our nation.”
Citing a World Bank report, the Regional director, Central Africa, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone, Dahlia Khalifa said, the global economy suffers a staggering loss of $172 trillion and that is due to the disparities in lifetime earnings between women and men, a loss that all economies are suffering.
“When there is an ecosystem that provides equal opportunities for women and men, more women thrive and that can contribute more meaningfully to Nigeria’s economic growth. Increasing women’ participation in leadership positions can foster diversity,” Khalifa said.
Also, the chief executive officer, NGX, Temi Popoola, said, as a leading multi-asset Exchange catalysing Africa’s sustainable development, NGX’s commitment to business practices that support diversity and inclusion is resolute.
Popoola stated that, all stakeholders in the market and society at large have a responsibility to drive change not only within organisations but in society at large, adding that, “we must employ our influence to advocate for policies and practices that promote gender equality. We must challenge the status quo and actively work towards dismantling the systemic barriers that hold women back.”
The group chairman, NGX Group, Dr. Umaru Kwarainga said: “the population of our country Nigeria is almost equally divided between the male and the female gender and we cannot afford to leave either gender behind if our country Nigeria is to move forward.”
Director-general, SEC, Lamido Yuguda, lauded NGX and IFC’s efforts, calling on companies to engage in activities that promote gender equality and the creation of more opportunities for women to ensure a more inclusive capital market and the economy as a whole.
“As a regulator, with the mandate of protecting investors, the SEC welcomes all initiatives that promote investor confidence and enhance the efficiency of the capital market,” he said.