EMEFIELE PUSHES FOR MORE WOMEN IN TOP MANAGEMENT POSITIONS

The Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, said the Bank has issued gender-mandated regulations to pave way for gender diversity and inclusiveness at the top management levels in the Nigerian banking industry, just as he declared that the CBN has since surpassed the affirmative action with 32 per cent of the total workforce being female.

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

He reiterated that the CBN had also issued a policy that requires a minimum of 30 per cent of female representation on boards and 40 per cent at the top management level in the Banking Industry.

This, he said, was similar to the National Financial Inclusion Strategy recommends increasing female staff of microfinance banks to 30 per cent.

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

He emphasized that such gender mandates were necessary to breaking the bias in the Nigerian Banking industry, stressing that eight out of the 23 bank CEOs, representing 35 percent, were women, which was way above the global average.

Speaking on the theme: “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow”, in recognition of the significance of empowering women to be part of the solution to the climate change crisis, Emefiele emphasized that the campaign theme for 2022, 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.”

Emefiele further stated that the CBN, under his watch, had 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.

The Governor disclosed that females had benefitted hugely from the Bank’s intervention programmes such as the Agribusiness Small and Medium Enterprise Investment Scheme (AGSMEIS) and the COVID-19 Targeted Credit Facility (TCF).

Specifically, he said that out of N134.67bn disbursed to 37,273 AGSMEIS beneficiaries, as of January 2022, 33 per cent (N44.1bn) went to 12,511 female beneficiaries.

Similarly, out of N349.51bn disbursed to 712,442 total beneficiaries under the TCF, he said 45 per cent (N159.21 bn) went to 330,128 female beneficiaries.

He added that the MSME Development Fund (MSMEDF) was designed to allocate at least 60 per cent of the fund to women and women-owned enterprises of which 60.3 per cent 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, representing 43.6 per cent were female borrowers.

Citing reports to support claims about gender parity in the workplace among other issues bordering on discrimination, he said that the CBN recognized the positive impact of gender parity on the economy, achieving the SDGs and climate targets.

While also noting that women had been disproportionately affected by both the Covid-19 pandemic and the effects of climate change, he said the Bank was using the 2022 IWD as an opportunity to celebrate women who are in the frontline of these twin crisis.

Earlier in her welcome remarks, the Deputy Governor, Financial System Stability (FSS) Mrs. Aishah Ahmad, expressed appreciation to the Governor and other Deputy Governors for their constant support towards women and their wellbeing.

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

Speaking on the campaign theme of this year’s celebrations, she noted that age, ethnicity, religion and other biases had to be broken for women to realize and fulfil their full potential without which a sustainable future would not be achievable.

In her keynote, the Second Deputy Governor, Bank of Ghana, Mrs. Elsie Addo Awadzie, challenged women to change the narratives in their minds and break the biases they had created against themselves.

She also urged women to believe in one another, support one another and mentor one another in order to lift up one another.

She also stressed the need to consciously and intentionally seek alliances and support when necessary and to cultivate meaningful relationships towards mutual respect and consideration.

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