To mark the International Women’s Day (IWD), Palestine Exchange (PEX), in partnership with UN Women, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Palestinian Capital Market Authority (PCMA), organized the “Ring the Bell for Gender Equality” virtual ceremony for the fourth time in Palestine, within the IWD theme “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow”, with a high level and wide range participation of national stakeholders.
The Ring the Bell initiative, taking place by 121 exchanges and CCPs around the world, aims to bring attention to the pivotal role the private sector can play in advancing gender equality to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, to raise awareness about the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) and enhancing women’s participation and leadership and their organizations in climate change, adaptation, mitigation, and response, while looking at gender equality at the heart of their solutions.
In his welcoming statement, Mr. Maher Masri, Chairman of the Palestine Exchange, confirmed the importance of this initiative for PEX through contributing to achieving zero discrimination against women and enhancing women’s access to leadership positions similar to men. He added: We celebrate ringing the bell today on the occasion of the IWD in light of exceptional political and economic circumstances across the world, which affects all efforts towards enhancing women’s economic and social participation. Through this difficult time, we are in need for increasing the opportunities for women’s participation in driving change towards a sustainable future. “Striving to develop sustainable global strategies is the global utmost priority, which must be seriously focused on for a better tomorrow for us and for our children”, he said.
Ms. Maryse Guimond, the Special Representative of UN Women in Palestine, indicated that investing in women’s economic empowerment, especially in women’s leadership, sets a direct path towards gender equality and inclusive economic growth. She stressed on the crucial role in the attainment of Global Goals in Palestine, notably the SDG Goal 5 on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment. Ms. Guimond confirmed UN Women’s commitment to partnering with and supporting the Palestinian private sector in their mission to achieve gender equality and women’s empowerment, and mainstreaming gender in the workplace, marketplace, and community, specifically in promoting corporate policies that ensure decent working conditions and earnings for women.
In a related context, Mr. Youssef I Habesch, Principal Country Officer, CME West Bank and Gaza (CMEWG) of the IFC, gave an overview of the IFC’s programs, initiatives and interventions in supporting the private sector institutions, and explained that initiatives helps us in providing the necessary support for the national efforts to enhance women’s access to decision-making positions. Mr. Habesch encouraged private sector institutions to invest in women’s skills and potential as leaders and diversity in boards to ensure the participation of women and men.
In his statement, Mr. Murad Al-Jadbah, Securities Director at the PCMA, said that it is time to focus seriously and decisively on supporting the transition to a green economy and enhancing environmental sustainability, by adopting ambitious strategies that comply with environmental standards. This means supporting SME’s, especially the women led, in a way that ensures the participation of women in the workforce and assuming more leadership and advisory positions in many specialized fields, saving the environment and contributing to economic growth.
During the ceremony, an overview of the main policy recommendations of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) were presented on the environment and gender, based on the recent global research published by the OECD “Gender and the Environment: Building Evidence and Policies to Achieve the SDGs”. Additionally, two entrepreneurial solutions in addressing environmental risks were presented, from the West Bank and Gaza Strip to advance economic development and recovery in Palestine. Prominent initiatives and best practices of the private sector partners were also presented in engaging women in climate change, adaptation, mitigation, and response especially in renewable energy, industry innovation, and providing innovative financial solutions that are necessary for advancing economic development by both women and men.
The ceremony also included the WEPs signature of four new companies. These are the Vitas Palestine for Microfinance Company and the Arab Medical Complex, representing three private hospitals, namely, the Istishari Hospital in Ramallah, the Arab Specialized Hospital, in Nablus, and the Ibn Sina Hospital in Jenin. Thus, the total number of Palestinian companies that have signed these principles will be 18 through this year.
This initiative is organized for the fourth time in Palestine through partnership between IFC, Sustainable Stock Exchanges (SSE) Initiative, UN Global Compact, UN Women, the World Federation of Exchanges and Women in ETFs, to raise awareness about the business case for women’s economic empowerment and the opportunities for the private sector to advance gender equality and sustainable development.