A weekly look at women trailblazing the Islamic finance industry, featuring the insights and voices of market movers through Q&As and columns as well as incisive reports where we dissect thorny issues surrounding women in Islamic finance.

PowerTalk

Learn from the women making meaningful impact in the Islamic finance universe both at the forefront and behind-the-scenes as IFN gets up close and personal with trailblazing individuals from different segments of the industry worldwide.

Report

A series of in-house reports asking hard-hitting questions and delving deep into the issues surrounding women in Islamic finance.

Column

Represents the strong, informed and focused opinion on an issue of relevance to a targeted audience.

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The world is a very different place now as compared to the last few decades with the rising stature of women altering business and economic as well as social and political landscapes worldwide. The meteoric ascendency of women in the education and work spheres is unprecedented as the chorus calling for equality and social justice grows louder, yet despite encouraging numbers, a closer look at different segments, particularly the finance industry, reveals that women in general, still face gender-based challenges preventing them from further enhancement and empowerment as well as access to equal opportunities as their male counterparts.

The numbers are staggering: despite women accounting for a larger proportion of the labor force (almost half if not more) in most countries, female representation in core management positions and boardrooms is strikingly low. In Malaysia for example, it may boast a significant number of women leaders in the Islamic finance space yet studies show that women account for only 6% of boardroom memberships in financial institutions, 7% in insurance firms and less than 9% in the top 100 domestic firms, listed entities and government-linked companies in 2013. Such trends are similar even in developed countries such as the UK where only 9% of directorships of FTSE banks and 1-2% of executive directorships are assumed by women, according to the Treasury Committee.

Governments worldwide want to change that – if not for social justice reasons, for commercial and economic purposes. The female population represents an enormous opportunity to compensate a shrinking labor force in ageing societies: Japan is a prime example mobilizing in that direction. In countries where gender inequality may be stark such as Saudi Arabia, a move to narrow that gap is underway as they recognize that women have a vital role to play in nation-building.

While progress has been made in increasing women participation in the workforce (for example: the female labor workforce has more than tripled since 2003 to 47% and 51% in Dubai and Qatar respectively), but underrepresentation in key positions, gender pay gap due to occupational segregation based on gender and cultural barriers still remain for most women.

Recognizing both the immense contribution women can give to the Islamic finance industry and the prevailing glass ceiling, IFN is proud to launch ‘Women in Islamic Finance’, a dedicated weekly segment to highlight success stories of women leaders in the industry and tackle pertinent issues revolving around female participation in Islamic finance. Learn from women trailblazers both at the forefront and behind-the-scenes of the industry through our insightful interview series and follow us as we dissect thorny issues surrounding women in Islamic finance through incisive reports and columns. Through this invaluable platform, it is hoped that the gender equality agenda can be pushed further and women are given the due recognition they deserve.