Cairo — IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, together with the Egyptian Exchange, UN Women, Global Compact Network in Egypt, the National Council for Women, and the Egyptian Institute of Directors, is hosting a conference to raise awareness on the importance of advancing gender equality and increasing women's participation in the economy.
The event provide an opportunity for business leaders, investors, government officials, civil society members, and other key partners at the country level to highlight the business case for gender equality. It will also showcase steps taken by some companies to empower women in the workplace.
"As business leaders, entrepreneurs, employees and consumers, women are fundamental to inclusive growth--creating business models that boost job growth, build capital markets and raise per-capita incomes while promoting sustainable development," said Jingdong Hua, IFC Vice President and Treasurer.
Studies show that female talent is among the least utilized business resources in the world. Making even small inroads in closing the global gender gap could quickly yield strong results, with the potential to increase the global gross domestic product by $5.3 trillion over the next seven years, according to a 2017 report from the World Economic Forum.
In Egypt, women are still paid less than men for equal work; the gender wage gap currently stands at 22 percent. A recent study by the World Bank Group found that Egypt's gross domestic product could jump by 32 percent if men and women participated equally in the labor market.
For listed companies, failure to capitalize on these resources--for example, by adding more women to their boards and ranks of senior leadership--represents a substantial opportunity cost.
"Diversity is not only the right thing to do, but also the smart thing to do," said Walid Labadi, IFC Country manager in Egypt, Libya, and Yemen. "We welcome and encourage the unified voice that stock exchanges add to advocating for equal gender representation on companies' boards and senior management as a smart business strategy."
According to a recent IFC study, companies with female directors performed significantly better than those without, with a return on assets three times higher and return on equity twice as high. In Egypt, only 7 percent of firms are led by a female top executive.
Now in its fourth iteration, over 60 stock exchanges around the world will "Ring the Bell for Gender Equality" on the occasion of International Women's Day 2018. The effort highlights how the private sector can increase women's participation in the global economy and promote sustainable development.
Mohamed Farid, EGX Chairman, said that EGX is highly supporting gender equality issue asserting that women empowerment is one of the important elements for economic growth. He added "EGX signed in July 2017 a memorandum of understanding with the Business School of the American University to promote for women's participation in listed companies' Boards. This cooperation will help increase number of qualified women ready to join corporate boards. Farid finally highlighted that about 47% of EGX listed companies has at least one lady their Board of Directors".
The event is part of IFC's corporate governance program in Egypt, which aims to help local firms operate more efficiently and improve access to capital. The program is supported by the Japanese Ministry of Finance.
SOURCE International Finance Corporation (IFC)