Across Asia, Stock Exchanges “Ring the Bell” to Advance Gender Equality

Timed with International Women’s Day (8 March), stock exchanges in the region will join the EU-UN Women regional programme ‘WeEmpowerAsia’ in ringing their trading bells to signal the commitment to women’s economic empowerment.

Date: Tuesday, March 3, 2020

[Joint Press Release]
[For Immediate Release]

WeEmpowerAsia

Ring the Bell (Regional Announcer)

Bangkok, Thailand — Beginning this month, stock exchanges across Asia, in partnership with the joint European Union-UN Women programme, WeEmpowerAsia, will hold a series of “Ring the Bell for Gender Equality” events in a symbolic gesture to mark International Women’s Day (8 March).

The bell ringing ceremonies will start in Kuala Lumpur on 6 March, in partnership with Bursa Malaysia, followed by Manila on 11 March with the Philippines Stock Exchange. Four more stock exchanges have postponed their events to later this year over the COVID-19 concerns, including the Bombay Stock Exchange, National Stock Exchange of India, Indonesia Stock Exchange and Stock Exchange of Thailand. 

At each ceremony, stock exchanges are expected to pledge to improve gender equality in their markets, such as by signing the Women's Empowerment Principles (WEPs), promoting diversity in senior management and boards, adopting gender-friendly policies, developing gender-themed investment products, and supporting transparency on gender-related policies and practices.

Support for the WEPs, which this year marks its 10th anniversary, has gathered global momentum; thousands of companies worldwide are now committed champions. Across China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam, the number of signatories stands at 183 companies, and this year looks set to be even higher. On the occasion of International Women’s Day, WeEmpowerAsia is inviting business leaders in the region to come forward by pledging commitment to the WEPs.

Mohammad Naciri, Regional Director of UN Women Asia and the Pacific, commended the importance of current collaborations and drew attention to the unique role of stock exchanges as drivers for meaningful, positive change. “Women’s economic empowerment requires action on all fronts. At the nexus of interaction between listed companies and investors, stock exchanges are proven catalysts for advancing equality in capital markets in ways few other actors can. Moving into the next decade, let us resolve to redouble our work to build more gender-inclusive environments for more women to rise-up in businesses.”

Pirkka Tapiola, The Ambassador of the European Union to Thailand, highlighted the importance of this engagement: “The European Union is a champion of women’s rights both within Europe and globally. Gender equality is a fundamental European value, which is why we fight to increase women’s economic participation in financial institutions and to expand access to finance for female entrepreneurs, among many other efforts. The European Union encourages policies to support and enhance equality not only in the workplace but also in the ranks of senior management. We encourage leaders and CEOs to create more gender-inclusive environments, and we will continue to work in Asia and at home to empower women to become drivers for change in the business sector.”

Katja Freiwald, Regional Programme Manager of WeEmpowerAsia, reiterated these commitments: “Across the region, there is growing recognition that businesses have a stake in, and a responsibility for, promoting gender equality. Empowering women is not only a social and moral imperative, but also an economic need.”

Events will range from stand-alone bell ceremonies to panel discussions on topics in line with this year’s theme for International Women’s Day: “I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights.” Delegates are expected share insights and discuss the challenges in closing the gender inequality gap in their markets, as well as ways to collaborate with the programme, WeEmpowerAsia. The EU-funded programme, implemented by UN Women, promotes women in private sector businesses around Asia.

This regional initiative of UN Women Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, in partnership with the European Union, contributes to the United Nations’ broader efforts to advance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly Goal 5 on Gender Equality, which is identified as one of the four SDGs stock exchanges are best positioned to support.

Now in its sixth edition, the global “Ring the Bell” initiative is a partnership between IFC, Sustainable Stock Exchanges (SSE) Initiative, UN Global Compact, UN Women, the World Federation of Exchanges and Women in ETFs. In March 2019, a record 85 exchanges rang their bells for gender equality globally.

Additional Ring the Bell events will take place across the Asia-Pacific region, including in Australia, Bangladesh, Hong Kong, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. UN Women rang this year’s opening bell in celebration of International Women's Day on 2 March at the Nasdaq MarketSite in New York.

Read more about the events: Philippines (1) | Malaysia

Watch highlights from the Philippine event. 

To view the full list of participating stock exchanges, [click here]

Download our Social Media Kit to fully engage in the Ring the Bell campaign [here].

For the media advisory, visit. [https://bit.ly/RTB-WEA2020]

For more information, please contact:

Bovornpong Vathanathanakul (Mr.)
Communications Analyst, WeEmpowerAsia
UN Women Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific
Tel: +66 86 397 3369 | Email: b.vathanathanakul@unwomen.org

Marie Luise Schwarzenberg (Ms.)
Programme Manager, EU Foreign Policy Instruments – Asia & Pacific
EU Delegation to Thailand
Tel. +66 (0) 2 305 2600 ext. 2644 | Email: Marie-Luise.Schwarzenberg@ext.eeas.europa.eu

About WeEmpowerAsia

“WeEmpowerAsia” is a joint programme of the European Union and UN Women aiming to increase more women who lead and participate in private-sector businesses in China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam, thereby advancing inclusive and sustainable growth along with stronger links between European and Asian markets through gender-sensitive trade and supply chains. The programme is strongly anchored in the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) and contributes to seven United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including SDGs 1, 5, 8, 9, 10, 12 and 17.

About UN Women

UN Women is the United Nations organization dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. A global champion for women and girls, the organization was established in 2010 to accelerate progress on women's rights worldwide. UN Women's efforts are based on the fundamental belief that every woman has the right to live a life free from violence, poverty, and discrimination, and that gender equality is a prerequisite to achieving global development.

About the European Union

The European Union is made up of 27 member States who have decided to gradually link together their know-how, resources and destinies. Together, during a period of enlargement of 50 years, they have built a zone of stability, democracy and sustainable development while maintaining cultural diversity, tolerance and individual freedoms.

United Nations Global Compact

As a special initiative of the UN Secretary-General, the United Nations Global Compact is a call to companies everywhere to align their operations and strategies with ten universal principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption. Launched in 2000, the mandate of the UN Global Compact is to guide and support the global business community in advancing UN goals and values through responsible corporate practices. With more than 9,500 companies and 3,000 non-business signatories based in over 160 countries, and more than 70 Local Networks, it is the largest corporate sustainability initiative in the world.

About Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs)

The Women's Empowerment Principles - Equality Means Business is a joint initiative of UN Women and the UN Global Compact. The Principles outline seven steps for business on how to empower women in the workplace, marketplace and community. The Principles highlight that empowering women to participate fully in economic life across all sectors and throughout all levels of economic activity is essential to build strong economies; establish more stable and just societies; achieve internationally agreed goals for development, sustainability, and human rights; improve quality of life for women, men, families and communities; and propel business' operations and goals.

About Ring the Bell for Gender Equality

"Ring the Bell for Gender Equality" initiative is aimed to raise awareness about the business case for women's economic empowerment and the opportunities for the private sector to advance gender equality and sustainable development. The theme for International Women's Day this year is, "I Am Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights," aligned with UN Women’s new multigenerational campaign, Generation Equality, which marks the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. Adopted in 1995 at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China, the Beijing Platform for Action is recognized as the most progressive roadmap for the empowerment of women and girls, everywhere.

As part of the events, participants are encouraged to make commitments to improve gender equality in their markets, such as signing the Women's Empowerment Principles, improving diversity in senior management and on the boards of directors, developing more gender-friendly policies, developing a gender-themed investment product, or improving transparency on gender policies and practices. Follow the hashtag #WeEmpowerAsia for live updates on our social media channels.

Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @unwomenasia

The official hashtags of the Ring the Bell events are: #GenderBell #IWD2020 #GenerationEquality #InternationalWomensDay