In order to raise awareness on gender equality and empower women economically, United Nations Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Unit (UN Women), UN Global Compact and Sustainable Stock Exchanges Initiative (SSE) jointly organize an event under the title “Ring the Bell for Equality” at stock exchanges of the world during the first week of March, prior to the International Women’s Day. This year, Borsa İstanbul, Bombay, Egyptian, NASDAQ, Nigerian, Santiago, Stockholm and Warsaw stock exchanges will take part in the event.
The activities are realized as part of the twentieth anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, defining a roadmap for ensuring social gender equality and empowerment of women, which was approved by 189 states in 1995.
A founding member of the Sustainable Stock Exchanges Initiative (SSE), Borsa İstanbul hosted the bell-ringing ceremony to attract the attention of the Turkish business world and the other actors of the capital markets. The bell-ringing ceremony, hosted by Borsa İstanbul in cooperation with the United Nations Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Unit (UN Women), UN Global Compact and Sustainable Stock Exchanges Initiative (SSE), was realized at Borsa İstanbul Foyer at 09:15 on Friday March 6, 2015.
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu’s wife Dr. Sare Davutoğlu sent a Message
In her message, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu’s wife Dr. Sare Davutoğlu said, “I congratulate the International Women’s Day of the selfless women who honor us with their presence, never hesitate to offer their support, educate us to be ourselves, look after us, and give away the love and affection in their hearts freely”.
In her message, Dr. Sare Davutoğlu expressed her wish for creating a world where all kinds of discrimination end, and where women assume the position they deserve in the cultural, economic and political life.
At the ceremony, Borsa İstanbul Acting CEO Hüseyin Zafer; UN Women Designated Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia and Turkey representative Ingibjörg Gísladóttir; United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Director of the Investment and Enterprise Division and UNCTAD World Investment Report Editor-in-Chief James Zhan; Sabancı Holding Chairman and Executive Director, UN Global Compact Board Member Güler Sabancı; and Global Compact Turkey Chairman and UN Global Compact Board Member Dr. Yılmaz Argüden delivered speeches. The Master of the Ceremonies was Ms. Jülide Ateş, Goodwill Ambassador of the Turkish Philanthropy Funds (TPF).
Borsa İstanbul Acting CEO Hüseyin Zafer said in his speech, “While the government offers the required infrastructure for economic growth and development through education policies, labor laws and other similar steps, companies should, through their human resources policies, take the necessary steps to reinforce gender equality in Turkey. Taking an active role in efforts related to education, sustainability and social responsibility efforts, Borsa İstanbul will continue to support every project that brings forth equality of opportunity for women, in cooperation with its stakeholders. We will continue to contribute to reinforce the awareness on the side of companies and investors”.
UN Women Designated Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia and Turkey representative Ingibjörg Gísladóttir said, “In recent years many doors have opened up for women in the economic sphere. Today, women are CEOs of companies, scientists, engineers, doctors, factory workers. However, despite the progress, obstacles to women's full and equal participation in the economy persist. Women remain disproportionately affected by discrimination and exploitation in the workplace. Gender discrimination means women often end up in insecure, low-wage jobs, and constitute a small minority of those in senior positions. This limits their participation in shaping economic and social policies. Here in Turkey, women's participation in the economy remains low. Turkey has the lowest labor force participation rate for women in Europe. As we are celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action - the most progressive blueprint for advancing women's rights - we would like to emphasize that when more women work, economies grow".
United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Director of the Investment and Enterprise Division and UNCTAD World Investment Report Editor-in-Chief James Zhan said, “As part of the UN family we are strongly committed to mainstreaming gender issues throughout our work and collaborating with our fellow UN agencies to support our joint objective of empowering women. Our collaboration with UN Women today at this Borsa İstanbul event is just the latest example of this type of ongoing collaboration. Within UNCTAD itself, we are focused on identifying ways to empower women in developing countries. This includes research on the policies and measures that maximize the benefits of international investment for women and minimize the risks. Such risks include greater economic vulnerability, concentration of women in low wage sectors or jobs and inadequate access to training”.
UN Global Compact Board Member and Sabancı Holding Chairman and Executive Director Güler Sabancı emphasized that gender equality should be implemented in every area of everyday living, adding, “The participation of women in the workforce is not only a matter of human rights, but also is the right decision from the perspective of economics. Research has shown that organizations where women have a role in decision making mechanisms are more successful. Employing women is not merely about acknowledging the rights of women; at the same time, it significantly supports economic growth. Increased female employment means a stronger Turkey. Therefore, the business world must support Mr. Ali Babacan’s call to have more women on the boards of publicly traded companies. As Sabancı Group, we have aimed at ensuring gender equality and have argued that women must have equal opportunities in the social and business world. We have taken this issue on the agenda on the national and international platforms, and supported the efforts in this area. We are very pleased to be the first Turkish company to sign the Women Empowerment Principles and open this path”.
On social gender equality and empowerment of women, Global Compact Turkey Chairman and UN Global Compact Board Member Dr. Yılmaz Argüden said: “Societies that fail to offer women equal working conditions cannot prosper. With regard to the position of women in business, Turkey stands at a paradoxical point: Turkey ranks towards the bottom in terms of female participation in labor force whereas we are in a good position in terms of the application of “equal work equal wage” principle, and the number of female CEOs. Therefore, as a result of our discussions as Global Compact & UNIDO, increasing the place of women in the labor force was one of the five primary sustainability development targets of Turkey”.
Signing of Women Empowerment Principles (WEPs) was announced
Following the speeches, it was announced that Women Empowerment Principles (WEPs) were signed and a photo session with the new signatories was held.
“Women Empowerment Principles” (WEPs) is one of the most important global initiatives of the private sector aimed at empowering women to participate fully in economic life across all sectors and throughout all levels of economic activity. The Women’s Empowerment Principles Platform is the product of collaboration between UN Women and the UN Global Compact and offers the private sector the key points that they must take into consideration for gender equality in work places, markets and in the society in general. WEPs requests business world leaders to clearly guarantee 7 principles toward creating company policies that will enhance social gender equality. WEPs has nearly 1,000 signatories worldwide so far; and with the addition of 19 new signatories, the number of signatories from Turkey has reached a total of 42.
The new signatories include Akfen, Anadolu Efes, Arkas Holding, Asut Fiberglass, Back-up, Bilim İlaç, Coca Cola İçecek, Gün Partners, Hürriyet Gazetecilik ve Matbaacılık A.Ş., Kıymet-i Harbiye, Limak Yatırım A.Ş., Memişoğlu Tarım Ürünleri Tic. Ltd. Şti - Tat Bakliyat, MLS Holding, Quattro Yönetim Danışmanlığı, Standart Gayrimenkul Değerleme Uygulamaları A.Ş., TSKB, Yeşim Tekstil, Zorlu Holding and s360.