JSE Celebrates International Women’s Day with UN Women, IDB and IDB Invest

Posted: March 8, 2019 at 4:54 pm

The Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE) partnered with UN Women, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and IDB Invest to conduct a panel discussion on women’s empowerment under the theme, “Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change” and hosted a Bell Ringing Ceremony on International Women Day’s, March 8, 2019, at the JSE.

Many women from all walks of life gathered at The Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, on Thursday, March 7, 2019, to be a part of the gender-focused panel discussion, which was opened by Dr. Denise Chevannes-Vogel, National Private Sector Specialist, UN Women (Jamaica); supported by four other esteemed panelists. Dr Chevannes-Vogel spoke about Jamaica’s rating in women’s empowerment benchmark. She said that although Jamaica had made strides in areas such as middle management positions and more women being enrolled in universities, with a 70-30% ratio of women to men attending universities, there were other areas in which Jamaica needed to improve.

Mr. David Wan, President Jamaica Employer’s Federation, spoke to the need for having more women on Boards of Directors. He said that statistics have proven that when more women are appointed, Boards performed better as better decisions are made and ultimately, there is an improvement in the companies’ profitability.

Ms. Andrea Kelly, General Manager Jamaica Central Securities Depository (JCSD), stated that the JSE is doing everything in its power to empower women in the workplace and to have gender balance. She highlighted that the JSE was among the first companies to sign on to the UN Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs). She presented statistics to show that Boards are still dominated by males and that there is a need for more females on Boards in Jamaica.

Mr. Jaime García Alba, Chief of Advisory Services and Blended Finance, IDB Invest, spoke on ‘Investment and Women’. He said there are efforts being made to have investors look toward companies that employ more females and especially at the Board level. He went on to state that Bloomberg had an icon on its system that displays companies that have greater participation of women in the workforce and that investors are looking at this to make their decision whether or not to invest in a company.

Dr Marcia Forbes, Managing Director of Phase 3 Productions, spoke about “Women in IT’. She made the point that in a lot of cases, although women may be qualified in the IT sector, they are likely to be overlooked for a job position or promotion in favour of a man with similar qualification.

At the Bell Ringing Ceremony, dubbed “Jamaica ‘Ring the Bell’” JSE’s Financial Controller, Mrs. Suzette Whyte, in welcoming persons to the JSE, spoke to what the JSE is doing to enhance gender balance and about the JSE’s three main initiatives – The Directors’ Programme, Fellow programme and the Jamaica Social Stock Exchange (JSSE).

“We recognize that 80% of Boards in Jamaica are dominated by males, so we are now offering a Directorship Course through our e-Campus. While this course is opened to both male and female, this is an opportunity for women to be trained in the area of Board Directorship. Upon completing this course, the participants will be equipped to effectively serve on any Board, be it public or private sector, “ Mrs. Whyte said.

“Another initiative to promote inclusion is the introduction of the FELLOW. This is a training programme for females under the age of 30 years, conducted also by our e-Campus to prepare them to be prospective board members. The final initiative is the Jamaica Social Stock Exchange (JSSE). The JSSE will provide the platform for these entities to expand and raise capital which will enable social mobility, promote gender equality and decrease income disparity while bringing balance and empowerment. As with micro businesses, a large percent of the persons serving/ operating in the social sector is dominated by women, so the JSSE is a welcomed addition, while supporting both genders will have a huge impact on women”.

Mrs. Mary Alison Mclean, UN Women Multi-Country Office in the Caribbean, spoke to the fact that there are was just not enough women on Boards and that there was a drive on to ensure that there will be gender balance on Boards in Jamaica, as statistics have proven that with gender balance Board’s perform better.

Her Excellency Malgorzata Wasilewska, Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Jamaica, told the audience that the European Union has a drive to ensure that discrimination is stopped around the world against women and girls and that funds were being allocated to countries in this regard. Ambassador Wasilewska said that funds have already been allocated for the Caribbean region and that she hopes Jamaica will be included in this funding.

Mrs. Therese Turner Jones, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Representative Jamaica, stated that one of the key points that has been overlooked is that when women are on Boards, the companies’ corporate governance improve and there is also general improvement in the moral decisions by Boards.

Women and girls are “the greatest untapped population and are poised to become the next generation of professionals,” remarked Minister Olivia Babsy Grange, Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport. “We have a responsibility to provide women and girls with skills to become game changers in specialised areas that open new opportunities for success and these include what is now called artificial intelligence, conversational technologies, critical transformation and social entrepreneurship.”


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