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EBRD to press for progress this International Women's Day

 March 08, 2018

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development strives to promote Gender Equality and with this will celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD) by organising interesting and stimulating events for staff in both, headquarters and its resident offices to keep the discussion going and to continue raising awareness of the things that can still be done.

Gender Equality is a priority

Globally, IWD is an important catalyst and vehicle for raising awareness on gender equality, promoting positive changes in women’s lives and casting light on existing gender gaps.

The World Economic Forum predicts the gender gap won't close entirely until 2186.  Despite significant progress in female labour force participation over the past 25 years pervasive and persistent gender differences remain in productivity and earnings across different sectors and jobs.

Gender gaps are still prevalent

Gender segregation when accessing economic opportunities in turn reinforces gender differences in time use and in access to inputs, and perpetuates market and institutional failures. For instance, women are more likely than men to work in jobs that offer flexible working arrangements (such as part-time or informal jobs) so that they can combine work with care responsibilities. Furthermore, male-dominated industries and occupations employ fewer women and are particularly vulnerable to masculine stereotypes that make it even more difficult for women to excel. Globally, male-dominated industries employ 25% or fewer women. The information and communication (ICT) sector shows evident gender gaps: worldwide, in 2010, 96% of companies’ CEOs in the IT & Telecom sectors were male. Only 19.2% of ICT-sector workers have female managers, compared to 45.2% of non-ICT workers. In Europe, only 30% in the around 7 million people working in the ICT sector are women. In the Energy industry women are even fewer: in the top 200 power and utility companies only 5% of executive board members and 14% of senior management are women.

This gender segregation has consequences also in terms of pay gaps. A Cornell University study found that the difference between the occupations and industries in which men and women work has recently become the single largest cause of the gender pay gap, accounting for more than half of it. Of the 30 highest-paying jobs, including chief executive, architect and computer engineer, 26 are male-dominated, according to Labor Department data analyzed in Emily Liner’s the Third Way report. Of the 30 lowest-paying ones, including food server, housekeeper and child-care worker, 23 are female dominated.

In EBRD’s Countries of Operation (CoOs), whilst women make up over half of the population, they do not still have equal access to opportunities for formal employment, finance or services. Most of the gender gaps are due to lack of enforcement of laws and practices, not to policies. The recent gap analysis (done by EBRD Office of Chief Economist as part of the Gender Strategy) confirms that gender gaps are greatest in Central Asia, SEMED (South and East Mediterranean) and Turkey while there are also considerable gaps in some Eastern European Countries and the South East European countries. Labour markets and decision making abilities are still divided along gender lines and as of 2015, in many EBRD CoOs, the women’s labour force participation rate is still lower than that of men.

A focus on Turkey

Turkey exhibits one of the lowest rates of female labour force participation of EBRD’s countries of operation (29%) and in male-dominated sectors the percentage is even lower. As an example, the proportion of women employed in technical roles within electricity providers companies is very low (representing 1% of the technician roles and 12% of engineering roles) in comparison with the proportion of women in undergraduate engineering degrees in Turkey (23%).

For IWD 2018 the EBRD and the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) Turkey will focus on continued exemplary progress in promoting gender equality, within communities and companies.

This focus is also in line with:

CSW 62 (the sixty-second session of the Commission on the Status of Women, taking place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, 12-23 March 2018) with the priority theme “Challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls”

“International Women's Day” campaign with the theme “ #PressForProgress”, and “International Women's Day” event in EBRD HQ London (8 March)

EBRD focus for International Women's Day

The IWD 2018 celebration – an impressive panel of business representatives and a representative from UN Women – has therefore the following objectives:

  • To stimulate debate and build knowledge on women’s access to skills and employment
  • To emphasise the central role gender champions can have within communities and companies how it effects the wider environment.
  • A strong call to motivate and unite friends, colleagues and whole communities to think, act and be gender inclusive.

The event will comprise a panel discussion around the topic “Gender parity mindset and the positive impact on productivity and communities”.

For the panel discussion the aim is to elicit discussion and identify key recommendations, garnered from the panellists, with regards to their view on success to date on tangible process made within their respective areas. What has been done to date and what still needs to be done?  What role do communities play to change people’s mindsets and preconceptions? What are some of the good practice examples? What role can institutions such as the EBRD play in leveraging engagement with employers to ensure they attract and retain more women? What is stalling the progress for women at work?

EBRD is delighted to present the following speakers and panellists:

Opening Remarks by AmCham Turkey: Serra Akçaoğlu, AmCham Turkey/ABFT Chairwoman & Citibank Turkey CEO

Presentation by EBRD: Sule Kilic, Deputy Head of Turkey, Infrastructure, Energy and Natural Resources

Keynote Speech: US Consul General CG Davis

Moderator: Hande Islak, Deputy Head of Turkey, Corporates


Ufku Akaltan, UPS Turkey, General Manager

Defne Tozan, IBM Turkey, Country General Manager

İhsan Necipoğlu, Dow Turkey & Central Asia, President

Meral Guzel, UN Women, Empower Women Regional Coordinator for Europe & Central Asia

Bilgehan Ergenekon, Procter & Gamble, Board Member & Head of HR, Turkey & Caucasian Republics

Derya Matraş, Facebook, Turkey Country Director


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Disclosure: Where Women Work researches and publishes insightful evidence about how its paid member organizations support women's equality.

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