‘Women key contributor to sustainable development’
KUWAIT CITY, March 9: Boursa Kuwait rang the bell, for the fourth consecutive year, in support of women and their empowerment on International Women’s Day 2021, highlighting the key role of the private sector in raising awareness over the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEP) to accomplish the goals of sustainable development.
The event took place in the context of the efforts made by the General Secretariat of the Supreme Council for Planning and Development, in partnership with UN Women and the United Nations Development Program in Kuwait, to support the implementation of SDG 5 to empower all women. A number of listed companies participated in the event, including Zain, the National Bank of Kuwait, Equate Petrochemical Company, and Gulf Bank.
The bourse’s participation in the global initiative comes as part of its efforts to raise community awareness of the pivotal role that the private sector can play in achieving the goals of the campaign in accordance with the UN’s 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) to empower women and promote their rights, status and vital role in the development process. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, women have demonstrated leadership capabilities, effectively providing the necessary support to confirm their key role in Kuwaiti society.
Boursa Kuwait’s Chief Executive Officer, Mohammad Saud Al-Osaimi, commented on the occasion, saying, “On International Women’s Day, Boursa Kuwait is pleased to celebrate the role of women in today’s society, as a key contributor to the sustainable development of this country, working in tandem with the Kuwati government to empower her.”
He added: “We are proud to join world-leading international organizations to commemorate this momentous day, which comes as a reminder that Boursa Kuwait continues its support of women’s empowerment and its principles, a commitment that started when we first rang the bell for women’s empowerment in 2018 and continued when the exchange became a signatory of the Women’s Empowerment Principles in 2019. Boursa Kuwait is also a proud member of the Sustainable Stock Exchanges Initiative since 2017, of which women’s empowerment is a key component of.” Dr. Khaled Mahdi, the Secretary General of the Supreme Council for Planning and Development, also commented, stressing the importance of the role of women in the economy, especially in the private sector, stating that 80% of the General Secretariat of the Supreme Council for Planning and Development’s employees are women, an indication of the importance of their participation in the workforce, especially as the pandemic has shown that they are more than capable of contributing to the front line as volunteers, doctors, nurses, engineers and much more.
Dr. Mahdi also hailed the interest of the private sector in Kuwait in employing women, providing them with training and development to enable them to become decision makers and hold executive positions. The Secretary General also expressed his thanks and appreciation to Boursa Kuwait, Zain Kuwait, the National Bank of Kuwait, Equate Petrochemicals Company, Gulf Bank and others, for their support of the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEP) and sustainable development goals.
Meanwhile, Ms. Suzanne Mikhail, UN Women Regional Director for the Arab States, stated on this occasion, that, “The Women’s Empowerment Principles, which have been enthusiastically adopted by the Kuwaiti private sector and supported by the General Secretariat of the Supreme Council for Planning and Development, are a critical entry point for private sector companies to ensure their policies are gender-responsive and equitable. During and despite the pandemic, WEPs signatories in Kuwait and worldwide continue to support women in the workplace, marketplace and community.”
Mrs. Eaman Al Roudhan, Chief Executive Officer of Zain Kuwait, commented: “We are all proud of the immense progress reached by international and local efforts in this area. However, we must not forget the reality which women face today. There is still so much left to do, whether in regards to pushing women’s education forward or preparing them to take part in the business world. Supporting women’s education, especially those who are less fortunate, will always be a top priority. This is how we reinforce communities and further progress markets”.
Al Roudhan added: “Women in Kuwait have set an extraordinary example during the pandemic. Their active participation in the front lines and in voluntary work is a great example of the maturity level reached by the Kuwaiti community towards this issue. With the unprecedented circumstances faced by our nation and the entire world today, the challenges women face in the market have intensified. On the other hand, some opportunities have also risen from the pandemic, some of which include the spread of remote working and e-learning, and their heavy use in more educational institutions and businesses. I see this as a market that creates work opportunities and a new business lifestyle that helps women and the community to achieve balance between family and work responsibilities.”
During the event, Mrs. Sheikha Al- Bahar, Deputy Group CEO of the National Bank of Kuwait stated that equality is fundamental to the prosperity of economies and societies, explaining that the National Bank of Kuwait provides a model for all private sector institutions in terms of ensuring equal opportunities. “The bank has equal opportunities for all its employees, in addition to its commitment to empower more women through proper guidance and providing appropriate opportunities for their career development,” she said. Al-Bahar added, “The representation of women in all levels of decisionmaking around the world needs more effort in order to reach the desired levels. There are many women who have led the way for change and contributed to the advancement of their societies, which is something that I hope will motivate new generations to strive to participate towards the prosperity of their country.”
Dr. Abeer Al-Omar, Senior Executive for Corporate Communication and Government Affairs at EQUATE Petrochemical Company and Chairperson of the ELEVATE Program said: “At EQUATE empowering women is not limited to prominent headlines and administrative decisions.
Rather, we show our commitment to the United Nations women’s empowerment principles (WEP) through the implementation of our global “ELEVATE” program, sponsored by our CEO Mr. Naser AlDossari, which aims to promote equality and inclusivity in the work environment.”
Associate Professor at Kuwait University Dr. Lubna Al-Kazi had this to say on International Women’s Day: “We are proud to have Boursa Kuwait, the first exchange in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to ring the bell to empower women, support the initiative in its continuous efforts to support and empower women through sustainable development. We hope to see the number of women in leadership positions increase in the coming year, in line with the New Kuwait Vision 2035.
She added: “The presence of several listed companies in this event demonstrated their belief in the role of women in their institutions and in the workforce, taking into account the need to maintain a healthy work-life balance.” Women’s empowerment is at the core of Kuwait’s national development plan, and the country has encouraged the increase of women in leadership positions in the public and private sectors in the coming years. Boursa Kuwait is a champion of women’s empowerment and is a true pioneer in the inclusion of women in the workforce.
The company has been involved in several initiatives dedicated to empowerment and inclusion and was the first stock exchange in the GCC to participate in the ‘Ringing the Bell for Gender Equality’ initiative, which it has participated in for the past three years. Reaffirming the company’s commitment to promoting and enhancing diversity and inclusion in the workplace, Boursa Kuwait signed the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) ‘Statement of Support,’ which aims to deliver on the critical role businesses can play in the attainment of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals outlined in the Agenda 2030.