CMA and USE officials at the event

As part of commemorating the International Women’s Day, the Uganda Securities Exchange (USE) joined 65 other Stock Exchanges globally to ring the bell in a bid to advocate for gender equality in the sector.

The ‘Ring the Bell’ for gender equality campaign is aimed at highlighting the steps that the sector is taking in advancing gender equality in the workplace, marketplace and within the community.

This year, the Securities Exchange held a forum under the theme ‘Women’s Role in Finance and Investment’ aimed at highlighting how women in Uganda can join the finance sector.

The event was supported by a global partnership between the Sustainable Stock Exchanges (SSE) Initiative, UN Global Compact, IFC, UN Women, Women in EFT’s and the World Federation of Stock Exchanges.

Speaking during the event, the Capital Markets Authority (CMA) Chief Executive Officer Keith Kalyegira noted that the number of women in the boards of the listed companies is disproportionately lower than that of men.

According to Kalyegira, Uganda Clays has three women out of 10 board members; BAT has one woman out of 8 board members; Bank of Baroda has no woman on the board, New Vision has three women out of 11 (chairperson is a woman); Umeme has two women out of 11 board members, while DFCU has one out of 6 board members.

He also pointed out that there are only three women Chief Financial Officer’s out of 20 in the local financial institutions and only three CEO’s of financial institutions out of the 24 licensed banks.

On his part USE CEO Paul Bwiso, said the ring the bell for gender inclusion forum is aimed at promoting women’s needs and goals in the financial markets.

“We have to take a deliberate effort to ensure gender inclusion, the policies we pass with our policy makers that is the CMA,” noted Bwiso “We not only have to pass reporting regulations and requirements for gender inclusion, we will need to introduce products that women would be interested in such as for the rural women so that they also invest in the stock exchange,” he said.

According to Bwiso, the USE gender inclusion stands at 48% women and 52% men. However, the board only has a 13% women representation which account for only one woman on the board “We will work towards improving that as an objective” notes Bwiso

“We do know women save a lot, decisions on investments, savings and expenditure at the family level are done by women so based on this if we promote women’s needs and requirements we are bake to see more investments into the stock market because it is an avenue for investment and index would move up because of sustained investments that can grow, noted Bwiso.

“As the Exchange, this bell ringing ceremony creates awareness of the pivotal role the private sector can play in advancing gender equality to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal Five,” Bwiso said.

He added: “It is essential for the companies to develop and improve policies on remuneration, gender representation, sexual harassment prevention, family leave and flexible work in order to support both women and men but to also improve terms of employment and champion equal opportunities within the organizations.”