The Governor of Lagos State, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Nigerian Exchange Limited (NGX), and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) have all renewed calls for more gender-focused initiatives that will create increased opportunities for women in leadership, employment, and entrepreneurship in the Nigerian private sector.
During the inaugural edition of the Gender Leader Awards (GLA) held in Lagos, these key stakeholders emphasized the importance of gender equality in the Nigerian private sector.
The GLA, implemented under the Nigeria2Equal (N2E) program, aims to recognize and celebrate private sector companies leading the way in gender equality performance.
Governor Sanwo-Olu, in his keynote address, commended the IFC and NGX for their contribution to transforming the landscape for gender equality across the nation.
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He noted, “Gender equality is not only a normal imperative, but also an economic necessity, as it is essential for sustainable development and the overall prosperity of our nation.”
Sanwo-Olu further stated, “Lagos State is at the forefront of these efforts, and we are dedicated to promoting initiatives that empower women and girls and provide equal opportunities for all. We know that women face challenges, but when they do, they face them squarely. We have also seen that when women are in the picture, things move faster, we get value, and we see quicker and better results.”
The Governor also expressed his appreciation to the companies participating in the Nigeria2Equal program, while assuring that his administration is willing to partner with more organizations that focus on promoting interest in women and the girl child in the society and the country at large.
“Your unwavering dedication to reducing gender gaps and fostering a more equitable workplace serves as an inspiration for us all. As you celebrate your accomplishment, let us keep instilling beliefs around gender diversity and continue to challenge the status quo, break down barriers and ensure that men and women alike have equal opportunity to contribute to the growth and prosperity of our nation”, Sanwo-Olu said.
Dahlia Khalifa, Regional Director, Central Africa, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone, cited a World Bank report, said the global economy suffers a staggering loss of $172 trillion and that is due to the disparities in lifetime earnings between women and men, a loss that all economies are suffering.
“When there is an ecosystem that provides equal opportunities for women and men, more women thrive and that can contribute more meaningfully to Nigeria’s economic growth. Increasing women’s participation in leadership positions can foster diversity”, Khalifa said.
Temi Popoola, Chief Executive Officer, NGX, emphasized the exchange’s commitment to business practices that support diversity and inclusion.
Popoola stated, “We must employ our influence to advocate for policies and practices that promote gender equality. We must challenge the status quo and actively work towards dismantling the systemic barriers that hold women back.”
Dr. Umaru Kwarainga, Group Chairman, NGX Group, highlighted the importance of gender inclusiveness, saying, “The population of our country Nigeria is almost equally divided between the male and the female gender, and we cannot afford to leave either gender behind if our country Nigeria is to move forward.”
He emphasized the need for organizations to put in place policies or practices that encourage diversity and gender inclusiveness.
Lamido Yuguda, Director-General, SEC, represented by Mahmud Mukthar, Deputy Director, Exchanges at SEC, in a goodwill message lauded NGX and IFC’s efforts.
He called on companies to engage in activities that promote gender equality and create more opportunities for women, ensuring a more inclusive capital market and economy.
“As a regulator, with the mandate of protecting investors, the SEC welcomes all initiatives that promote investor confidence and enhance the efficiency of the capital market. I assure you, the SEC has continued support, engagement and collaboration in providing a level playing field for all listed companies to thrive,” he said.