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CSE and IFC ring bell for gender equality

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Marine Biologist, Ocean Educator and Blue Whale Project Pioneer Dr. Asha De Vos rings the trading bell to mark Sri Lanka’s commitment to gender equality in the presence of (from left), Global Compact Network Sri Lanka Director Rathika De Silva, Acting Australian High Commissioner Jon Philip, IFC Country Manager Amena Arif, SEC Chairman Ranel T. Wijesinha, Nations Trust Bank Director/CEO Renuka Fernando, SLID CEO Chaminda de Silva and CSE Chairman Ray Abeywardane 
Pic by Pradeep Pathirana

 

By Shabiya Ali Ahlam

Women in the country’s workforce were paid a tribute at the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) yesterday with the traditional ringing of the trading bell—a gesture by the corporate Sri Lanka to celebrate the International Women’s Day.


The event organized by International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the CSE that brought women representatives across diverse sectors and industries on to one stage for gender equality was held for the fourth consecutive year.


This year, ringing the bell in the presence of heads of the CSE, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the IFC was Marine Biologist Dr. Asha De Vos, who in addition to being the first and only Sri Lankan to gain a PhD in marine and mammal research, is also the only Sri Lankan to be included in BBC’s 100 inspiring and influential women in 2018.“Women have to work twice as hard as the average man because the system is not built to support us just yet, but we have a long way to go. 

 

“The system will adopt if you are forging ahead with that change. Strive not to be defined by your gender, but your capacity,” said Dr Vos delivering the keynote address at the event.
Estimations of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has shown that Sri Lanka’s GDP could be 20 percent higher if more female workers had the opportunity to participate and contribute to the country’s productivity. 


Further, a joint study by the CSE and the IFC indicated that approximately 8.5 percent of company board directors are women, which is only a 0.36 percent increase from the year before.
“If we keep up at this pace it will be very long before we make any real progress,” asserted IFC Country Manager Amena Arif.


Reflecting similar sentiments, CSE Chairman Ray Abeywardane opined that female participation in business, political, executive leadership and on corporate boards should be strongly encouraged.


“We at the CSE walk the talk in terms of gender equality. About 40 percent of our staff is ladies and over 45 percent of our management is women. I appreciate the culture of the CSE that has evolved over the period of time,” Abeywardana said.

 

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