Gender Equality

UN member States agreed on 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be accomplished by 2030. The following target is directly addressed by this topic. 

Target 5.5: Ensure women’s  full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision making in political, economic and public life. 

The Goal

Gender equality is a top priority of the international sustainability agenda. Businesses are also improving their practices, developing public-private partnerships, and investing resources to achieve gender equality and long-term financial value. While it is increasingly recognizing that advancing gender equality through business operations and value chains means better talent, higher productivity, more customers, and a stronger bottom line, progress remains slow. To achieve the UN SDGs, the private sector needs to continue to advance at a fast pace.

Stock exchanges are uniquely positioned to influence their market in a way few other actors can. The Sustainable Stock Exchange (SSE) initiative of the United Nations helps stock exchanges build on this position by connecting them with companies, investors and policymakers to support sustainable development in capital markets. Stock exchanges around the world are invited to join the initiative by signing a public commitment to promote sustainable business practices.

Ring the Bell for Gender Equality

Every year, in celebration of International Women’s Day, the Sustainable Stock Exchange initiative supports “Ring the Bell” events to raise awareness of the pivotal role the private sector can play in advancing gender equality to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 5. Stock exchanges are uniquely positioned to influence their market in a way few other actors can.

Ring the Bell for Gender Equality events

In 2020 we had 95 exchanges planning “Ring the Bell” events of the 102 stock exchanges tracked by the SSE 

Value Proposition

The UN Sustainable Stock Exchanges initiative launched a report with GIZ, which highlights how exchanges can and are advancing UN Sustainable Development Goal 5 on gender equality. It cites a number of imperative challenges:

  • Women take home 1/10 of global income while accounting for 2/3 of global working hours;
  • Girls and women have equal access to education in only 25 countries;
  • 1/3 experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetimes;
  • According to a 2016 review of 1,000 listed companies by Bloomberg LP, the average representation of women in the leadership was 23% in senior management; 21% on boards; 4% have a female chairperson; and 3% have a female CEO.

However, there is evidence of a business case:

  • Female representation in leadership has shown to improve performance metrics such as ROA, ROE, and EPS while reducing volatility;
  • Family leave can boost employee morale, reducing turnover and making it easier for businesses to retain skilled workers
  • If better served, women-owned small businesses could add around $285 billion to the global economy
  • The global economy could be up to $28 trillion larger in 2025 if gender gaps were eliminated.

Pioneering Financial Products


Advancements in this space include the pioneering of new financial products aimed at supporting the empowerment of women and gender equality in corporate leadership. Some examples of these products include:

The Tools

SSE guidance on advancing gender equality

Building on the 2016 SSE Report on Progress, which highlights five specific targets of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that exchanges are well placed to influence, this report examines the contribution exchanges can make toward SDG target 5.5: ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision making in political, economic, and public life, as well as the gender-specific targets under the other 16 SDGs.

The SSE guidance document on Gender Equality and other publications by the SSE can be found here.


Technical Assistance: The SSE works with stock exchanges to advance gender equality in their markets through donor-sponsored technical assistance. For more information, please contact the SSE team directly


The stock exchange can play a key role in promoting women’s economic empowerment in the private sector through addressing gender equality in listed companies, and ensuring enhanced access to finance for women entrepreneurs.

Dhaka Stock Exchange

It was time to join our forces and come together to emphasize our commitment to gender equality and sustainable development in the finance industry also in our Nordic-Baltic region. Nordic countries are often seen as global front-runners in advancing equality, but there is still more to do. We need more actions and openness to improve diversity in top management and transparency on gender policies, practices and attitudes”

Nasdaq Nordics

We will work with various market players to ensure highest levels of gender parity are upheld in line with our commitment to the Women Empowerment Principles. 

Nairobi Stock Exchange

Need help getting started?