60 years of Kuwaiti women working and ‘empowered’ in banking sector

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Role vital in nation’s economy

KUWAIT CITY, March 8: The role of Kuwaiti women in the banking sector reflects their effective and vital role in economic life countrywide, as women represent about 35 percent of the workforce in Kuwaiti banks while occupying 26 percent of leadership positions in the banking sector.

As International Women’s Day falls on March eighth annually, KUNA sheds light on Wednesday on the economic role of citizens in the business environment, especially female entry into banking six decades ago, according to data from the Central Bank of Kuwait (CBK) and the Kuwaiti banking sector, while five decades have passed since assuming the first supervisory position in the sector. Ever since the national banking work began in Kuwait at the beginning of the 1950s and with the growth and development of business, the banking sector encouraged women working in local banks, giving them the opportunity to lead.

Nasima Al-Rifai was the first Kuwaiti woman to manage a branch of a local bank, the National Bank of Kuwait (NBK), as this branch was inaugurated in 1972, and at that time it was reserved for women, afterwards she gained the expertise that qualifies her to assume this position after joining NBK in 1964. The banking services provided to women in Kuwait continued after the establishment of Kuwait Finance House (KFH) and the rest of the Kuwaiti banks that competed with each other to provide banking services to women and to draw them in to work for them and benefit from their creative energies in the banking business.

In accordance with the directives of CBK, local banks have signed many agreements concerned with empowering women, including a deal signed by Gulf Bank in 2015 as the first bank to support and sign a UN deal concerned with equality between men and women and the empowerment of women in the work sector. CBK is one of the leading institutions in the field of empowering women and providing opportunities for career growth, in addition to the bank’s continuous directives regarding interest within this as this is highlighted by women assuming leadership positions. Regarding supervisory positions at the bank, women assume about 41 percent of the total supervisory positions, while the number of women working for the bank reached about 545 employees, which represents 58 percent of its workforce

Specific jobs
The presence of women was not limited to specific jobs, but rather the banks encouraged them to develop and advance while providing them with opportunities to assume executive, leadership and supervisory positions, as well as giving them the opportunity to have an active presence in the boards of directors. CBK’s statistical data indicates that women occupying leadership and supervisory positions in the local banking sector amounted to about 998 women, representing about 26 percent of the total leadership positions in this sector with the total amount is about 3,849 jobs, and the number of women employees in the banking sector amounted to about 4,819.

Efforts towards empowering women in Kuwait began over 40 years ago, however the past two decades have witnessed intense efforts to expand women’s participation in public work, represented in obtaining their political rights, which paved the way for them to enter parliaments, contributing to the legislative role, becoming several ministries and assuming many other positions such as executive positions, whether in the government or private sector.

Kuwaiti women are pioneers in the social, political, intellectual, cultural and sports fields, holding leadership positions in the fields of medicine, engineering, law and auditing. Also, Kuwaiti women worked as university professors and recently assumed judicial positions. These steps taken by Kuwait to empower women in various fields are consistent with the fifth goal of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, as this also comes within the framework of Kuwait Vision 2035, with the aim to transform the country into a regional leader in the financial, cultural and institutional fields by 2035. (By Muneera Al-Sultan – KUNA)

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