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Towards full gender parity in listed companies in the Middle East

At the World Economic Forum meeting in Jordan, President of the Bank of Palestine Group Hashim Shawa advocated quota systems for women in leadership positions in the Middle East.

What if the major companies in the Middle East have real gender parity? In any case, this desire is supported by Hashim Shawa, President of the Bank of Palestine Group. At the World Economic Forum meeting in Jordan, Shawa announced that the Bank of Palestine will soon appoint its Board of Directors with full gender parity.

“We will be the first bank in the Middle East and the Arab world, and perhaps one of the first in the world, to have a 50-50 board quota,” Shawa said. “And that will be in the next board elections, which will take place in a few years.”

“When men have to go to a woman to apply for a loan, that’s how you change people’s mindset and change their culture. And you achieve the goal of raising the whole society.” – Hashim Shawa, Chairman of the Bank of Palestine Group.

A quota system for the Middle East

Bank of Palestine’s President looks beyond his institution. He recommends a quota system applicable in the Middle East, under which listed companies would be required to respect a certain proportion of women on boards of directors.

In the Middle East, the number of women in leadership positions remains low. In the United Arab Emirates, for instance, in 2016, only 1.5 per cent of the seats on the boards of directors of publicly traded companies were held by women, way below the global average. In 2003, Norway became the first country in the world to impose a quota for women, requiring listed companies to increase the proportion of women on their boards to at least 40%.