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Emefiele urges more women in banks’ top management

Godwin Emefiele

The Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, says the Bank has issued gender-mandated regulation to pave the way for gender diversity and inclusiveness at the top management levels in the Nigerian banking industry.

The regulation requires a minimum of 30% of female representation on the boards, and 40% at the top management level in the banking industry. This is similar to the National Financial Inclusion Strategy that recommends increasing female staff of microfinance banks to 30%.

On its part, he said the CBN has surpassed affirmative action with 32% of the total workforce being female.

Emefiele disclosed this yesterday while addressing participants at a webinar hosted by the Deputy Governor in charge of the Financial System Stability (FSS) Directorate, Mrs Aishah Ahmad, as part of activities to mark the 2022 International Women’s Day (IWD) at the CBN.

Gender diversity

According to him, the Bank, in an effort to increase representation of women in the industry, has been using the gender diversity model as part of the criteria for approving the membership of boards of institutions under its regulatory purview.

He said such gender mandates were necessary to break the bias in the Nigerian banking industry, stressing that eight out of the 23 bank CEOs, representing 35%, were women, which was way above the global average.

Emefiele, who spoke on the theme: “Gender Equality Today for a Sustainable Tomorrow,” is in recognition of the significance of empowering women to be part of the solution to the climate change crisis.

He said the 2022 campaign theme, #BreakTheBias, aimed to raise awareness on the persistent bias and discrimination in communities, workplaces, schools and the society in order to create a “gender equal world” that is “diverse, equitable and inclusive”.

By example, he said the CBN has “demonstrated its commitment to diversity and inclusiveness by designing and implementing a wide variety of initiatives, programmes and interventions to promote entrepreneurship, reduce poverty, generate employment and deepen financial inclusion for women.”

It is only by unleashing the full potential of women to participate fully in the economy that we can strengthen growth, eliminate poverty, create jobs and respond effectively to the mounting global challenges, from the pandemic to climate change.

Financial inclusion

What’s more, Emefiele informed that females had benefitted hugely from CBN’s intervention programmes, saying that of N134.67 billion disbursed to 37,273 AGSMEIS beneficiaries as of January 2022, 33% (N44.1 billion) went to 12,511 female beneficiaries.

Similarly, of N349.51 billion disbursed to 712,442 total beneficiaries under the TCF, he said 45% (N159.21 billion) went to 330,128 female beneficiaries, adding that the MSME Development Fund (MSMEDF) was designed to allocate at least 60% of the fund to women and women-owned enterprises of which 60.3% of the of 229,579 beneficiaries are women.

Furthermore, he said out of the 211,306 financial statements currently registered in the collateral registry, 92,091 or 43.6% were female borrowers.

Gender parity

Citing reports to support claims of gender parity in the workplace among other issues bordering on discrimination, the Governor said the CBN recognized its positive impact on the economy, and achieving the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and climate targets.

Noting that women had been disproportionately affected by both the COVID-19 pandemic and the effects of climate change, he said CBN was using the 2022 IWD as an opportunity to celebrate women who are in the frontline of these twin crises.

He said the Bank has taken strategic actions in areas such as recruitment, retention, succession planning, and return-to-office work arrangements to address these gender gaps.

“It is only by unleashing the full potential of women to participate fully in the economy that we can strengthen growth, eliminate poverty, create jobs and respond effectively to the mounting global challenges, from the pandemic to climate change,” Emefiele declared.

Women need to consciously and intentionally seek alliances and support when necessary, because it takes boldness, courage, sheer resilience and excellence to succeed as a woman in the 21st century.

Support for women

Earlier in her welcome remarks, Ahmad expressed appreciation to the Governor and other Deputy Governors for their constant support towards women and their wellbeing.

She said the International Women’s Day was an opportunity to celebrate women for their progress, achievements and their contributions to society.

In her keynote, the Second Deputy Governor, Bank of Ghana, Mrs. Elsie Addo Awadzie, challenged women to change the narratives and break the biases they had created against themselves, as well as support and mentor one another.

Stressing the need to consciously and intentionally seek alliances and support when necessary, Awadzie said: “it takes boldness, courage, sheer resilience and excellence to succeed as a woman in the 21st century.”

On her part, the Representative of UN Women to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Ms. Comfort Lamptey, challenged women to strive to achieve a healthy work-life balance, stressing that passion and commitment were key attributes for success in any endeavour.

Similarly, the Special Adviser to the CBN Governor on Sustainable Banking, Dr A’isha Usman Mahmood, thanked the Governor and Deputy Governors for their support towards the success of the programme.

She noted that creating a more equal world today was a collective responsibility and a foundation on which a sustainable tomorrow could be built.

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