By Elizabeth Adegebsan
THE Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, and stakeholders have lamented persistence of gender inequality in the financial sector.
Speaking at a session titled: “Gender Equality in the Financial Services Sector”, organized by Access Bank in Lagos, they stressed the need to identify and address the socio-cultural barriers sustaining inequality so as to increase women participation in the financial services sector and drive economic development.
Speaking at the event, Director, Capacity Building, Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Chizoba Mojekwu, said that the cause of gender inequality in the financial sector was socialization, patriarchal nature of organizations and none functioning of regulations.
She stated: “Socialization has been so concretized that it is holding a lot of things back for both men and women and that socialization extends into the work place. Organizations are still largely patriarchal and regulations do not work.
“So my views are that we are dealing with a major transformation issue than a technical challenge. We haven’t been engaging the rest of the body but only the neck. Until we take a holistic view and engage below by the neck we will continue to apply back aid to a problem that is largely sitting in the heads and the minds of the people.”
Also speaking, Hebert Wigwe, Chief Executive Officer, Access Bank said: “The session is about strengthening gender equality as far as financial institutions are concerned but I would urge us to take it to a different level. Let us get people in manufacturing and other fields to basically embrace what is good for the entire world which is about gender equality. The Nigerian sustainability Banking Principles has come a long way from where we started from five years ago. But there are still several institutions that have not attained the level of compliance that we would expect particularly as it pertains to gender equality”.
Mrs Ibukun Awosika, chairperson First Bank of Nigeria (FBN) Plc, said that to improve gender equality, financial institutions need to have better understanding of the life and things that influence the ability of each gender to deliver and thus create an environment to support such.
“It is really about firstly understanding and educating the populous, educating the workforce and educating the leaders in the different environment. And then being deliberate in creating an enabling environment not just talk but in real terms.
“For girls, who have babies, they want to work but if they can’t solve the problems of their babies, you have already distracted them. So for companies that create crèche help, and having a better understanding of the life and things that influence the ability of each gender to deliver and creating an environment to support that. If a girl needs to work from home a bit then why ‘no’ as long as she can deliver the value. And encouraging family support and organisational support and being deliberate in understanding that we need to find the space to express value is by creating value for ourselves as a nation.”