The first ever Women in Investment and Finance Charter in Africa has been launched during a workshop jointly organized by the Africa RISE Regional Facility, funded by the European Union and The Association of Women in Investment and Finance in Mauritius. This charter has the objective to federate all actors in the sector to raise awareness and take action towards improvement of gender balance at the workplace.
The Women in Investment and Finance Charter in Africa also aims to nurture the inclusive culture necessary to sustain it. The workshop also saw the launch of the Africa RISE report, which was requested by AWIFM and the Ministry of Financial Services and Good Governance in order to conduct an analysis of existing gender frameworks, identifying gender gaps, and crafting policy orientations towards ensuring gender balance in the sector in Mauritius.
Although gender inequality at the workplace in Mauritius has roots in gender-biased conservative as well as patriarchal norms and culture, the report concludes that the issue of providing a psychologically safe workspace for women remains critical. Policymakers tend to focus on what is tangible, such as laws, policies, and budgets. Yet, it is important not to neglect the invisible power of norms at the risk of missing a deeper understanding of social change.
The report points out that the business sector has recently taken deeper interest in the gender concept and implications of gender inequalities and is working on plans and policies towards enhancing gender equality at their level. It also identifies gaps in rules and practices and offers suggestions on how to close these gaps. It recommends that corporate leaders should develop corporate awareness about gender equality through research on critical gender equality issues, training, sharing best practices, and joining voluntary corporate initiatives.
Commenting on this initiative, Mahen Kumar Seeruttun, Minister of Financial Services and Good Governance, said: “We cannot expect to grow in a world where women are not involved in decision-making or given equality. We will keep building on this momentum, and both the government and the association will pursue their coordinated efforts to enhance gender balance to contribute towards the sustainability of our economy. Initiatives such as the report we are launching today will help fast forward the women’s agenda so that we do not have to wait another century to reach perfect equilibrium. Women of Mauritius have played an immeasurable role in the country’s economic development. At home, in the fields, or in our manufacturing industry, the role of Women has been remarkable.”
Highlighting the European Union’s support for the report, Vincent Degert, Ambassador of the European Union to the Republic of Mauritius, commented: “There is a need for strong commitment to women’s access to finance and investment as it will boost the economy and allow the country to make decisive progress towards gender equality in all spheres. I am glad that the report on ‘Bridging the Gender Gap in Investment and Financial Services Sector in Mauritius’, which is funded under the Africa RISE programme – a European Union funded Regional Technical Assistance Facility – aims at accelerating the advancement of women leaders in investment and finance in Mauritius while providing an advocacy role on gender equality for this sector.”
Setting out the benefits to be achieved as companies sign up to the Charter, Jessica Naga, Vice President of The Association of Women in Investment and Finance, said: “As Vice President of The Association of Women in Investment and Finance, I am thrilled with the launch of a Charter that can bring together industry players committed to achieving gender equality in the public and private sectors. By signing the Charter, companies will express their commitment to promoting gender balance, set clear objectives and targets internally, and gradually but sustainably bring more inclusivity at all levels of their organisation.”
Summing up the role of Africa Rise in the launch workshop, Manisha Dookhony, Economics and Market Reform expert at Africa Rise, elaborated: “As a regional facility, Africa Rise is supporting this launch workshop as the first step towards many similar engagements. The charter is a concrete step towards the implementation of the recommendations from our team of experts. Our long term goal is to encourage and foster an environment for many similar actions to be rolled out across Africa.”