International Women’s Day

Stock exchanges ring their opening bells for gender equality

Date: Monday, March 9, 2015

UN Women Deputy Executive Director Lakshmi Puri (centre) and dozens of UN, government and global business leaders, took part in the Ring the Bell ceremony at the NASDAQ Stock Exchange on 9 March. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown

New York– In celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing and International Women’s Day, stock exchanges from around the world joined UN Women, the UN Global Compact and the Sustainable Stock Exchanges Initiative in supporting gender equality and highlighting the pivotal role of the private sector in empowering women.

On 9 March, Cathy Engelbert, CEO-elect of Deloitte LLP, rang the opening bell of the NASDAQ Stock Exchange in New York at the traditional 9.30 a.m. mark, saying, “It is an honour and privilege to ring the opening bell at NASDAQ for International Women’s Day.”

She was joined by UN Women Deputy Director Lakshmi Puri, Chair of the Women's Empowerment Principles' Leadership Group Elizabeth Broderick, UN Global Compact Executive Director Georg Kell, and dozens of business leaders, investors, as well as government and UN representatives.

“We are calling on finance and business to work to achieve Planet 50-50 by 2030 and to Step It Up for gender equality, so that it will happen!” said Ms. Puri.

The symbolic bell-ringing commemoration in New York City, capped off a week of events around the world, kicked off in Egypt on 3 March with bells being rung through India, Poland, Nigeria, Sweden and Turkey. Each participating city saw an array of illustrious women role-models invested in empowering women ringing the bell. 

The initiative was hosted by UN Women Country Offices and Global Compact Local Networks to raise awareness about the importance of gender equality to business and recognize how the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) – a joint initiative of UN Women and UN Global Compact – can support action on advancing gender equality and women’s full participation in economic life across all sectors.

“As an organizer of both the WEPs and the SSE initiative, the UN Global Compact is encouraged to see exchanges, companies, investors, governments and the UN coming together to take on this critical issue of gender equality,” said UN Global Compact Executive Director Georg Kell. “If we are to ensure women's full and effective participation, and equal opportunity at all levels of political, economic and public life, we need the full commitment and collaboration of all stakeholders.”

Investing in women and girls, and enabling their full economic participation, is important for business and society to build strong economies and more stable and just societies, improve the quality of life for families and communities, and achieve sustainable development.

The bell-ringing event was displayed on the giant NASDAQ video screen in Times Square, which also flashed UN Women messages on International Women's Day the day before. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown

On 10-11 March, WEPs stakeholders will build on this global momentum by bringing together leaders from business, Government, the UN and civil society for the 2015 WEPs Event, Unlimited Potential: Business Partners for Gender Equality. Participants will reflect on the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action – the 1995 comprehensive global framework for women’s empowerment – and chart a path toward a sustainable, equitable and inclusive future. This year’s meeting is being held for the first time as an official side event of the 59th Commission on the Status of Women.

Read the press release on the Ring the Bell initiative here