Over 100 exchanges Ring the Bell for Gender Equality in 2024

6 March 2024

A record of over 111 exchanges around the world this year are supporting the tenth annual “Ring the Bell for Gender Equality” campaign, to raise awareness about the role and opportunities for the private sector to advance gender equality and sustainable development. For the tenth consecutive year, markets in 90 countries are planning to ring opening or closing bells to celebrate International Women’s Day 2024 – starting on 1 March and continuing until the end of the month. The UN Women’s theme for International Women’s Day 2024 is “Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress”. One of the key challenges in achieving the Sustainable Development Goal on gender equality by 2030 is an alarming lack of financing with a staggering $360 billion annual deficit in spending on gender-equality measures, according to UN Women. Investing in women is therefore a human rights imperative and a cornerstone for building inclusive societies.  The Ring the Bell for Gender Equality annual event series was launched by the UN SSE, UN Global Compact and UN Women in 2015, with just 7 participating exchanges. Today it is coordinated by  UN SSE, IFC a member of the World Bank Group, UN Global Compact, UN Women and The World Federation of Exchanges and involves exchanges from around the world. Moving from awareness to action, exchanges that have participated in the past ten years of ringing the bell for gender equality have made progress by:
  • Promoting women’s access to finance and encouraging women to invest in public markets;
  • Developing new products, such as sustainability-linked bonds with gender criteria and gender bonds;
  • Signing and adopting the Women’s Empowerment Principles, which offer guidance to businesses on how to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment in the workplace, marketplace and community;
  • Promoting gender equality listing criteria and gender data disclosure;
  • Hosting market education on gender equality. 
These actions and more are encapsulated in the 2022 guidance from SSE, IFC and UN Women called “How exchanges can advance gender equality”. The Action Plan in this guidance summarises the main areas where exchanges can take action to contribute to greater gender equality. These cover both outward and inward-focused opportunities and are aligned with existing exchange initiatives and operations. In short, it builds on the market influence that exchanges can exercise to further gender equality.   Measuring progress  In the area of gender equality in corporate boardrooms, the SSE, IFC and UN Women have produced an annual benchmark comparing exchanges worldwide based on the boardroom gender balance of their issuers. These annual Market Monitors also include information on regulatory developments (e.g. mandatory minimum rules for women on boards) and data on women in other corporate leadership roles (e.g. CEOs and Chairpersons). How does your market compare to others around the world? You can find out using the SSE’s newly expanded online database, or by downloading one of our recent Market Monitors on women in corporate leadership.      Engaging leadership  The UN SSE and its partners at IFC and UN Women are also convening leaders of the world’s exchanges in CEO Roundtables on gender equality. The last event in 2023 explored the progress of gender equality in senior leadership positions, and reflected on lessons learnt by the Stock Exchanges and emergent themes. Mr. Moez Doraid, Deputy Executive Director, UN Women, addressing SSE Partner Exchanges at the World Investment Forum said, “Stock exchanges jointly list over 60,000 companies, which represent 90 trillion dollars of market capitalization, creating potential to leverage gender equality through training and through transparency and accountability”. More recently in Q4 2023, the SSE, UN Women and IFC convened two region-specific dialogues on gender equality in Asia and Africa. Educating the market  To further support exchange’s efforts in enhancing gender equality in their markets, UN SSE is partnering with IFC, UN Women, SSE Partner Exchanges, Bloomberg, the University of Columbia, and other subject matter experts to provide markets with high-quality training on gender equality. This training program was developed with stock exchanges to ensure its relevance and utility for markets worldwide. The program was launched on 17 October 2023 during the World Investment Forum. Since then, UN SSE and IFC have been rolling out the training free of charge for markets globally, in collaboration with SSE Partner Exchanges. Stock exchanges are invited to co-host the training and invite their market participants and key stakeholders to join and receive a CPD certification. Market participants that are interested in participating in this free training program should contact their local exchange to register their interest. About the Ring the Bell initiative  The full list of exchanges that are participating in the Ring the Bell for Gender equality initiative can be found here. The “Ring the Bell for Gender Equality” annual event series was first launched in 2015 by the UN SSE, UN Global Compact and UN Women, with just 7 participating exchanges. The group of global organizing partners was expanded in 2016 to involve collaborators from UN SSE, UN Global Compact, UN Women, IFC and the World Federation of Exchanges. By 2022, participation in this annual event included over 110 exchanges around the world. Beyond raising awareness for the role of women in business and finance, exchanges also support mobilizing finance for gender-equality-themed investment products, improving women’s access to financial markets and promoting greater levels of female participation in corporate board rooms. The SSE supports these efforts through an integrated programme of conducting evidence-based policy analysis, facilitating a network and forum for multi-stakeholder consensus-building, and providing technical guidelines, advisory services and training. To learn more about how the SSE supports exchanges to promote gender equality, visit our Gender Equality workstream page.  

About the SSE

​The SSE initiative is a UN Partnership Programme organised by UNCTAD, the UN Global Compact, UNEP FI and the PRI. The SSE’s mission is to provide a global platform for exploring how exchanges, in collaboration with investors, companies (issuers), regulators, policymakers and relevant international organizations, can enhance performance on ESG (environmental, social and corporate governance) issues and encourage sustainable investment, including the financing of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The SSE seeks to achieve this mission through an integrated programme of conducting evidence-based policy analysis, facilitating a network and forum for multi-stakeholder consensus-building, and providing technical assistance and advisory services.