By Emma Ujah, Abuaj Bureau Chief
Banks with more women on their boards and in top managements are generally better managed, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, has said.
He spoke at the CBN celebration of the International Women’s Day, in Abuja, Tuesday.
Quoting the reports of a 2018 International Monetary Fund (IMF), the governor said that narrowing 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.
“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.”
He also shared the position of Christine Lagarde, the IMF Managing Director, that if banks and financial supervisors increased the share of women in senior positions, the banking sector would be more stable.
The governor revealed that the apex bank had made great strides in addressing gender disparities in the organization.
According to him, actions taken by the bank to advance equality in the workplace included “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 etc), coaching and mentoring programme to increase knowledge and skills that are necessary for achieving our organizational goals and objectives.”
Consequently, he said that great progress had been made in closing the gender gap in the bank, with women representing 29 percent of CBN staff and 29 percent of Directors being.
Mr. Emefiele added that 8 Departmental Directors were women, while 3 out of 11 board members were women.
He said that in recognition of their enormous contributions of to economic growth either as business owners, entrepreneurs, farmers or employees of businesses, 60 per cent of the multibillion Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Fund had been earmarked for women.
In her remarks, the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, urged banks to eliminate stringent collateral requirements for loans, when it came to women.
According to her, “Given the challenges we are facing, it is critical that we take a long-term and strategic approach to ensuring that women are economically empowered, resulting in stronger economies overall.
“It is well established that the economic empowerment of women and girls is a key driver of economic growth and improved development outcomes, ultimately leading to improved economic resiliency.
“It is therefore imperative that we prioritize the advancement of women in all spheres of society, and specifically in areas relating to their socio-economic empowerment. Women face challenges when it comes to accessing resources, including financial services, property, and other assets.”
The minister urged, “Women must have a seat at the table,” and be co-creators of strategic interventions aimed at ensuring gender parity in the long run.