CBN Has Addressed Gender Disparities, Says Emefiele

CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele

 Ahmed canvasses gender-sensitive budgeting

Francis Ndubuisi and James Emejo in Abuja

The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, yesterday said the bank has made remarkable progress in closing the gender gap in the institution.

He said: “It is heartening that today, women represent 29.0 per cent of CBN staff and 29.0 percent of directors are women. Eight departmental directors and one Director General of WAMZ as against 26.0 per cent of staff and 25.0 percent of directors in 2014. Similarly, three out of 11 board members are women (27 percent).”

Speaking at the 2019 CBN Commemoration of the International Women’s Day (IWD) with the theme: ‘Investing for Equality, Balance for Better’, the apex bank boss, however, noted that despite overwhelming evidence that gender equality remained a driver for economic growth and prerequisite for achieving the 2030 global development agenda (The Sustainable Development Goals), progress in gender parity had been slow.

He said research findings had spotlighted the significance of gender equality in economic development.

According to him, “McKinsey (2017) showed that if women’s economic participations were at the same level as men, $28 trillion could be added to the world’s economic growth by 2025.

“According to the World Economic Forum Gender Gap Report (2018), there is an average of 32 percent gender gap that needs to be closed, and going by the trend, the overall global gender gap will close in 108 years.

“A 2018 study by the IMF showed that greater inclusion of women as users, providers, and regulators of financial services have benefits beyond addressing gender inequality. Narrowing the gender gap would foster greater stability in the banking system and enhance economic growth. It could also contribute to more effective monetary and fiscal policy.

“The study also found that the gender gap in leadership does make a difference when it comes to bank stability. Banks with higher proportion of women board members had higher capital buffers, a lower ratio of nonperforming loans, and greater resistance to stress.

“Similarly, according to Lagarde (2019), adding one more woman in a firm’s senior management or corporate board-while keeping the size of the board unchanged-is associated with an 8–13 basis point higher return on assets. If banks and financial supervisors increased the share of women in senior positions, the banking sector would be more stable too.”

Nonetheless, Emefiele submitted that although gender diversity in central banks had improved over the years, a lot more still need to be done to achieve parity.

He said: “We are celebrating a milestone today because of the progress made to address gender disparities in CBN. Actions taken by the bank to advance equality in the workplace include training and skills development, increased employment and leadership positions for women, diversity and inclusion initiatives, supporting female employees to balance work and family life (through child care support, extended maternity leave among others), coaching and mentoring programme to increase knowledge and skills that are necessary for achieving our organisational goals and objectives.”

He told THISDAY: “We have done well so far making sure that we empower women in our environment. At the CBN, not just at the CBN, in our homes, we must recognise that the woman is very important.

“The woman is a sister, a wife and a mother. So they play a major part in our lives, and we need to continue to take them very seriously and increase their participation in every sphere of life as we move on in our journey through life.”

Minister of Finance, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, who delivered a keynote address to the gathering, said government must make conscious policies and regulations that affect women.

The minister, among other things, said budgeting processes needed to be gender-sensitive going forward.

She said gender-based budgeting is an area she planned to build on by engaging her colleagues in the public sector to properly accommodate the concerns of women during the budgeting process.

Ahmed said: “The needs of women are peculiar and different. So, if we don’t consistently ask ourselves that these policies we are making, how will they affect women and girls? Then, we will be failing up to 50 per cent of our population.”