International Women’s Day
UN Women, World Bank and Women on Board Pakistan ring the bell at Pakistan's Stock Exchange to call for gender diversity
Date: Friday, March 16, 2018
Karachi, Pakistan — The Pakistan Stock Exchange, for the second year in a row, marked International Women's Day in a befitting manner. The exchange gave its floor to three leading gender diversity promoting organizations – UN Women, World Bank and Women on Board Pakistan – to "Ring the Bell" to support the cause of women's inclusiveness and equality in the business world.
The 8 March "Ring the Bell" ceremony was performed by Rahat Kaunain Hassan, Chairperson of Women on Board Pakistan; Shazia Syed, CEO of Unilever Pakistan; Sabrina Dawood, CEO of Dawood Foundation; and Elin Burns, United Kingdom's Deputy High Commissioner in Karachi. Each of these leading female professionals took turns to open the market with one gong hit each, together with UN Women Country Representative Jamshed Kazi; Muneer Kamal, the Stock Exchange Chairman; Richard Morin, the exchange's Managing Director; and Aftab Ahmad, CEO of Women on Board. That underscored the aim of perfect gender balance in Pakistan's economic, business, and commerce sectors.
The Pakistan Stock Exchange was among over 65 stock exchanges worldwide that hosted a bell ringing ceremony on International Women's Day to raise awareness of the pivotal role the private sector can play in advancing gender equality and achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 5.
Syed said at the ceremony that women's influence on the lives of every child makes it clear that women have a lasting impact on the emergence of leaders. She said the ceremony recognized the progress made by female corporate professionals.
Hassan said that the Women on Board Pakistan initiative, "aims at affording the corporate world the opportunity to benefit from the experience of those who have demonstrated the resolve and commitment to progress against odds. The WOB agenda is the empowerment of the corporate sector in national economy, not women alone."
She said Women on Board's objective is to have at least 25 per cent female representation on Pakistan's corporate boards by 2025.
Kazi of UN Women said: "Stock exchanges are uniquely placed to promote gender equality through transparent and efficient capital markets that generate long-term value for both women and men. In addition to leading by example through their own operations, stock exchanges can influence investor and company behaviour, help enforce compliance with pro-women legal frameworks and support regulators in promoting the adoption of market standards equally, for everyone."
Kazi held up a Pakistan rupee note and added: "Pakistani women have made their mark in virtually every field and profession, from being Prime Minister to CEOs to mountaineers and fighter jet pilots. However, one of the last remaining places where women still have no representation is the humble bank note, which touches all of our lives and where patriarchy is alive and well in our purses and wallets."
Mr. Morin emphasized the need to nurture good female corporate executives so that women are able to command a higher proportion of board and top leadership positions. Mr. Kamal recited Kaifee Azmi's famous poem "Aurat" (Woman), which encourages women to rise above patriarchal barriers, and said the day's event underscores the exchange's commitment for gender inclusiveness in all its activities.