Kathmandu, Nepal, March 25, 2021—To raise awareness for gender equality, IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, joined the Nepal Stock Exchange (NEPSE) for the first time to ‘Ring the Bell for Gender Equality.’ The annual global event highlights how women’s participation in the economy can spur sustainable private sector development.
The event comes at a critical moment, as the economic and social consequences of COVID-19 continue to disproportionally impact women — who make up 39 percent of global employment but account for 54 percent of the overall job losses due to the pandemic.
“We are pleased to join hands with IFC and UN Global Compact Nepal for our first ‘Ring the Bell for Gender Equality event’,” said Laxman Neupane, PhD, Chairman of NEPSE. “Together with more than 100 stock exchanges around the world, we are excited to take part in the call to action for gender equality. Fostering greater participation of women in our workforce, economy, and capital market is not just the right thing to do – it also makes strong economic sense."
Chandra Singh Saud, CEO of NEPSE, welcomed all the participants and highlighted the importance of women's financial literacy to promote meaningful progress towards gender equality.
Accelerating the pace of gender parity could lead to important economic, environmental, social, and governance gains in emerging and frontier markets. Despite some progress, women remain underrepresented in business leadership with only 17 percent holding board seats globally.
"As economies around the world struggle to recover from a global pandemic, increased participation of women can help accelerate the recovery process—making it more inclusive,” said Pradeep Man Vaidya President of United Nations Global Compact Network Nepal.
In Nepal, women representation on corporate boards is extremely low. A recent IFC study in the country’s power sector shows that out of 132 board members from 20 companies, only 12 (9 percent) are women. Despite Nepal’s Companies Act 2066 BS requiring at least one or more female shareholders, only three out of 10 public companies have women on their boards.
"I have been encouraged by 18 power sector companies joining IFC's Powered by Women initiative to address some of these gender disparities," said Babacar S. Faye, IFC Resident Representative in Nepal. " But clearly, much more needs to be done to increase the participation of women on corporate boards in Nepal. Our research with stock exchanges in South Asia has shown that companies with higher gender diversity on their boards experience better financial returns.”
The 2021 ‘Ring the Bell for Gender Equality’ event marks the seventh year of a global partnership between IFC, The World Federation of Exchanges, Sustainable Stock Exchanges (SSE) Initiative, UN Global Compact, UN Women, and Women in ETFs.