By Babajide Komolafe
The Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, has challenged stakeholders in private and public organisations to ensure all-round gender development and equal opportunities, in order to increase the number of women in leadership positions in Nigeria and across the world.
Emefiele gave the charge on Thursday, at a commemorative webinar hosted by the Bank’s Deputy Governor in charge of Financial System Stability, Mrs. Aishah Ahmad, as part of activities to mark the 2021 International Women’s Day with the theme: “Women in Leadership: Achieving an Equal future in a COVID-19 World”.
Declaring open the webinar that featured a paper titled: “Positioning Women for Leadership in a Changing World,” the Governor restated the commitment of the apex bank to continually promote gender diversity in the workplace, empower women and increase their active participation in the economy.
According to Emefiele, the CBN recognised the potential of female leaders in different organisations and the Nigerian economy at large, hence it ensured equal opportunities for both male and female staff across every cadre.
He also cited the CBN/Bankers’ Committee affirmative action on 40 percent and 30 percent representation for women in top management and Boards of Deposit Money Banks (DMBs), respectively.
While identifying unequal access to education, healthcare, finance and cultural barriers with gender stereotyping as some of the barriers limiting the participation of women in leadership, the CBN Governor also listed policies of the Bank that had afforded women access to finance to improve their lot.
Mr. Emefiele, therefore, stressed the need to have appropriate policies in place in addition to making the right investments in programmes and services to promote women’s leadership and gender parity in order to enable them to contribute to the economy.
This is even as he noted that there was overwhelming evidence that organisations with a high level of female participation fared better than others.
In her keynote address, Executive Resident at the University of Oxford and former Treasurer and Vice President at the World Bank, Arunma Otteh highlighted the critical roles of leadership occupied by women, noting that women were key to societal advancement.
Making a business case for gender equity, Ms. Otteh noted that women economics was “SMART” economics, citing statistics that indicate women re-invest up to 90% of their resources into their respective families and societies.
She also emphasised the need to critically address the challenge of security in order to earn economic prosperity, even as she stressed that women remained Nigeria’s last hope to tackling insecurity and life-endangering situations.
While also noting that women were hardest hit by the Coronavirus pandemic, Ms. Otteh challenged all women to strive for excellence and invest in themselves, noting that women need to do things differently, think differently and act differently.