News

01.08.2022

The ABBL is committed towards the prevention of human trafficking

On July 29, 2022, at the occasion of the United Nations World Day against Trafficking in Person, the ABBL released a leaflet (both available in English and Ukrainian).

28.07.2022

The ABBL is recruiting: Adviser in Payments and Cybersecurity (m/f)

  The Luxembourg Bankers’ Association (ABBL) represents over 220 banks and professionals of the financial sector, promoting the sustainable development of regulated, innovative, and responsible banking services in Luxembourg  

27.07.2022

Launch of the State-guaranteed loan scheme for the Luxembourg economy in the context of the war in Ukraine

  On 27 July 2022, Finance Minister Yuriko Backes signed an agreement with representatives of the banks BCEE, BIL, BGL BNP Paribas, Banque de Luxembourg, Raiffeisen and ING, and in the presence of Guy Hoffmann, President of the ABBL, framing the State-guaranteed loan scheme set up by the law of 15 July 2022 in favour of the Luxembourg economy in the context of the war in Ukraine.  

20.07.2022

The ABBL is recruiting: Head of Communication (m/f)

Your mission: Lead and implement the internal and external communication strategy.

15.07.2022

PSD2 EU Consultation - ABBL response

In May 2022, the European Commission launched a consultation on the review of Payment Services Directive. The ABBL has worked with its members on a common response.

15.07.2022

The ABBL is committed to ensuring respect for human rights

On July 6, 2022, the Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, Jean Asselborn, and representatives of 50 Luxembourg companies, among which the ABBL, signed the National Pact "Business and Human Rights".

15.07.2022

Where do Luxembourg banks stand regarding cloud computing?

ABBL and KPMG Luxembourg recently held a conference to release and discuss findings of the second edition of the survey on cloud computing adoption in the financial sector of Luxembourg. 

06.07.2022

CSSF circular on outsourcing arrangements: recap of the answers to ABBL members' questions

Following the publication of CSSF Circular 22/806 on the implementation of the European Banking Authority (EBA) guidelines on outsourcing arrangements, the ABBL and the CSSF organised a question and answer session on 8 June, which was attended by more than 800 ABBL members. Here is a summary of the answers given by the supervisor to the questions asked by the ABBL members.

06.07.2022

Digital Euro consultation: ABBL response

In April 2022, the European Commission launched a targeted consultation on a digital euro. The objective: to gather information on the expected impacts of the digital euro on key industries, users, chambers of commerce and other stakeholders in international trade. The ABBL, which also participated in the ECB's 2021 consultation on this topic, has submitted its response to the EC and provided comments to the European Banking Federation. Here are the key points.

29.06.2022

Banking Union, Sanctions, Basel and AML: Commissioner McGuinness faces MEPs

Mairead McGuinness joined the members of the ECON Committee for her first full hearing of 2022. 

29.06.2022

Trainee EU Affairs Adviser

If you are looking for or know someone who is looking for an internship in the field of EU affairs, this is an opportunity to be seized!

17.06.2022

Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation gains momentum

The SFDR has been in the spotlight in recent weeks, with three notable statements and briefings published at European level.

09.06.2022

Consultation on Open Finance: defending the financial sector's position to the European Commission

The European Commission has launched a consultation on Open Finance, for which the ABBL is working with its members to define a common position and give a better understanding of the impacts of the future implementation.

09.06.2022

New restrictive measures against Russia and Belarus: ABBL technical note

The sixth package of restrictive measures against Russia and Belarus has been published in the Official Journal of the European Union. The ABBL has therefore published its technical note summarising the novelties within the five latest (EU) Council Regulations, with all relevant parts for the financial sector.

01.06.2022

Hackathon 'Smart Banks For Life' - Want to be a mentor?

Come and coach the students of the Luxembourg Tech School, during a hackathon where they will use their ideas and energy to design the banks of the future!

01.06.2022

Sustainable finance: latest developments and proposals

While the G7 countries recently committed to largely eliminating greenhouse gas emissions from their energy sectors by 2035, the EU is struggling to agree on an extension of the European taxonomy and its criteria to nuclear power and natural gas. The following proposals and developments will certainly keep sustainability at the heart of the debate.

20.05.2022

CSSF Circular on Outsourcing Arrangements: What does it bring to the financial industry in Luxembourg?

28.04.2022

Sustainable finance: new tools for disclosure

The Sustainable Finance Platform has published a new report on the Technical Selection Criteria (TSC) for the four remaining environmental objectives. While these criteria do not bind the European Commission to any decision, it is nevertheless required (Articles 12-15 of the Taxonomy Regulation) to adopt a delegated act establishing STCs for these objectives, which may follow those established by the Sustainable Finance Platform. The EC has therefore adopted, by way of a delegated regulation, the Regulatory Technical Standards (RTS) on information to be disclosed by financial market participants subject to the Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR).   

14.04.2022

Sharing cyber information via the ABBL: why it is critical

With increasing digitalisation, cyber threats are multiplying and do not spare the financial sector. The best weapon: sharing information about these cyber threats. Incidents, vulnerabilities, mitigation measures, prevention and detection solutions... Sharing knowledge is key to preserving the sector's cyber security.

14.04.2022

The ABBL and its team mobilise for Ukraine 

In response to the situation in Ukraine, the ABBL organised a fundraising campaign among its team and doubled the amount collected from the staff. The final sum amounts to 8420 euros, which will go to the benefit of Médecins Sans Frontières and the Luxembourg Red Cross. Thank you to the whole team for this show of solidarity!

14.04.2022

Ukrainian refugees: what proof of identity for client onboarding purposes?

With the arrival of Ukrainian refugees in Luxembourg, the question arises for credit institutions of what identification documents to use for KYC purposes when opening a bank account for these refugees. In the absence of an ID card or passport, can the Certificate of Temporary Protection Beneficiary serve as valid proof of identity for credit institutions to perform their due diligence? And, if so, what address should be used, and what tax residence, to perform the necessary due diligence?   The ABBL has asked the CSSF this question, and here is a summary of the formal response.

07.04.2022

ABBL-ACA-ALFI  is recruiting: European Affairs Adviser - Brussels

Support the Head of the Brussels based EU Representative Office in matters related to the process of financial services legislation. This task includes legislative monitoring, drafting of position papers at EU level, advising Luxembourg colleagues on EU institutional and legislative affairs in financial services.

07.04.2022

Exchange of views on the progress regarding the digital euro

Preferences are shifting when we talk about means of payment. The pandemic and, recently, the war on Ukraine, accelerated the digital transition and economic independence in Europe. Since January 2020, the ECB has been moving forward in its project to create a Central Bank Digital Currency – the digital euro.

07.04.2022

Interoperability of payment systems

The EU payments market remains fragmented. While many digital payment solutions exist in Europe, most of them, if not from large non-European players, cannot be used across Europe for in-store and e-commerce payments. 

31.03.2022

Consultation on a standardised assessment for retail investors: why we think it is not a good idea

Following the EC's consultation on a standardised retail investor assessment regime, the ABBL expresses in a position paper its arguments against this new type of assessment.

31.03.2022

The sustainable finance journey: filling the gaps

We are now at a key stage in the sustainable finance journey, where gaps are gradually being filled at three levels: 1. European taxonomy: extending the classification and scope - new challenges and opportunities are emerging, which are being analysed by the ABBL Taxonomy and Labels working group 2. Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence: Proposal for a Directive - The ABBL is collecting comments from its members and coordinating with other associations to identify concerns and suggestions to share with the Commission 3. Convergence of information frameworks and disclosure rules - what this means for transparency and harmonisation

24.03.2022

New AML package: experts' views at the public hearing

At the joint meeting of the ECON and LIBE Committees of the European Parliament, Members of the European Parliament had a second public hearing on the new anti-money laundering legislative proposals with leading experts.

22.03.2022

The ABBL is recruiting: a Communication Officer (m/f) – Fixed-term (CDD - 1 year)

17.03.2022

Russia-Ukraine war: what consequences for the European banking system? The case of Sberbank Europe AG

09.03.2022

FATF Plenary Meeting: key points

Read the key points from the plenary meeting, including an update on the list of jurisdictions with strategic AML/CFT deficiencies, as well as current and upcoming policy initiatives.  

09.03.2022

Sustainable finance - what's new?

If you were expecting that 2022 would be less intense than the past 18 months with regards to sustainable finance, the “tour d’horizon” which follows will convince you it won’t be.

25.02.2022

Business registry reforms: coming changes

The legislator foresees to amend the Law of 13 January 2019 establishing the Beneficial Owner Register (BO Law), which will allow financial actors to potentially benefit from increased quality and accessibility of beneficial ownership information, including for due diligence purposes.

25.02.2022

Publication of the Vertical Risk Assessment on money laundering and terrorist financing linked to legal persons and arrangements

16.02.2022

Equivalence of UK central counterparties (CCPs) until June 2025

Central clearing is essential for financial stability: it reduces systemic risk in the financial sector and increases market transparency.

10.02.2022

CMU action 7 – Empowering citizens through financial literacy, what’s new?

As part of the CMU action plan published in September 2020, the European Commission committed to work on a joint EU/OECD financial competence frameworks for adults and youth.

10.02.2022

Digital Onboarding & Electronic Signature Survey

03.02.2022

SEPA Payment Account Access (SPAA)

The European Payments Council (EPC) has taken on the role of scheme manager for the SEPA API Access scheme in relation to payment accounts.

20.01.2022

Directive on credit services providers and credit purchasers: opportunities for banks

Directive 2021/2167 of 24 November 2021 on credit servicers and credit purchasers was finally published in the Official Journal of the European Union on 8 December 2021. This directive aims to create a secondary market for non-performing loans (NPLs), so that banks can deal with them on their balance sheets and thus reduce the risk of future NPL accumulation.

06.01.2022

Sustainable finance: latest developments and ABBL's scope of action

In this new article by Julien Froumouth, Sustainable Finance Adviser at the ABBL, find out about the latest green waves in sustainable finance.

15.12.2021

#ImpfeWierkt: Joint campaign on vaccination

14.12.2021

European Single Access Point (ESAP)

In the context of fragmented and complex access to financial-related information, of the need to create new investment opportunities for investors and of building ESG-based data at EU level, the European Commission has made a proposal to address the identified shortcomings. Last month, the Commission adopted a package of legislative proposals on a familiar project– the Capital Markets Union (CMU). One of the legislative blocs adopted in the context of CMU package was the European Single Access Point (ESAP).

01.12.2021

Capital Markets Union progress

Following up on its 2020 Capital Markets Union Action Plan, last week the European Commission published a further CMU package consisting mostly of legislative proposals reviewing the AIFMD and ELTIF regulation as well as modifications to MiFID/R and the creation of a European Single Access Point for market data. Given the importance of investment funds and depositary banking for the local financial centre, this article focuses primarily on the AIFMD and ELTIF revisions.

30.11.2021

The banker 2.0: what challenges for professional training?

We are witnessing a global shift in skills: according to several converging studies, around 10% to 20% of jobs are threatened with disappearance by the automation of tasks brought about by robotisation or digital technology. At least as many will be created, and 50% will be profoundly transformed in the next ten years. The same is true in the banking sector, where, as the world changes, jobs adapt and transform.

25.11.2021

COP26: The banks' path to a 1.5°C target

The long-awaited COP26 ended with the adoption of the Glasgow Climate Pact, which calls on national governments to step up their respective contributions in 2022, providing a narrow window of opportunity to limit global warming to 1.5°C. The financial sector was also in the spotlight at COP26, with three highlights.

18.11.2021

Remuneration policies: key points

With the transposition of the Capital Requirements Directive (CRD5) expected by the end of this year, the ABBL organised a conference on 15 November on the impact of the directive on remuneration policies. Experts from the ABBL were joined by panelists from the CSSF, Allen & Overy and KPMG.

18.11.2021

Request to pay: strategic and technical aspects

Request to Pay is a messaging functionality whereby a payee can initiate a payment request to the payer, who receives a message with the requested amount and due date. Request to Pay solutions are evolving, and changes to the SEPA Request to Pay (SRTP) Rulebook of the European Payments Council (EPC) are planned. These changes are expected to be published in November 2021, with implementation in 2022.

03.11.2021

Capital requirements : Basel III and more

It was finalised in December 2017, but when the Basel agreement took its first milestone in the transposition into EU law last week (27 October 2021), it was already a year behind the original schedule. Indeed, COVID is the culprit as many readers would have guessed.

03.11.2021

MIFID II Recast: practical implementation summary

The MIFID Directive is undergoing a major overhaul, in two steps: Step 1: A quick fix initiative with (smaller) changes related to COVID-19 Step 2: A broader recast which is currently being planned by the European Commission. The ABBL and Arendt & Medernach jointly organised a webinar on this topic, in order to discuss the background of the regulatory change and to provide a practitioner’s perspective.

28.10.2021

Open banking: where do we stand?

The last ABBL FinTech and Innovation Forum, which brings together ABBL members and innovative solution providers, focused on open banking. This term, which emerged during the drafting of the revised Payment Services Directive (PSD2), refers to an open banking system, allowing the sharing of customer financial information and data held by the bank with third parties through application programming interfaces (APIs). This data sharing allows FinTechs to offer additional services for the benefit of account users.

28.10.2021

Quantum computing: how to prepare?

Quantum computing will profoundly transform many sectors, including banking and payments. This implies many challenges, especially in terms of security: public key algorithms can be easily broken by a sufficiently powerful quantum computer, and hackers are probably busy preparing for the future by collecting encrypted data.

20.10.2021

Taxation - further details agreed on a Two-Pillar reform of international tax rules

On 8 October 2021, 136 countries and jurisdictions, including all OECD and G20 countries and all EU Member States, agreed to the final framework for a Two-Pillar Solution to Address the Tax Challenges Arising from the Digitalisation of the Economy.

13.10.2021

EBA 2022 Work Programme

October is traditionally work programme season for the EU institutions and agencies. After ESMA earlier this month, the European Banking Authority (EBA) last week released its Annual Work Programme for the upcoming year. The programme is structured through vertical and horizontal priorities, that will guide the further work of the organisation.

06.10.2021

Launch of European Cyber Security Month: raising awareness of cyber threats

The month of October marks European Cyber Security Month across the European Union, through an awareness-raising campaign organised by the European Cyber Security Agency (ENISA), the European Commission and the Member States, including the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. Under the slogan Think Before You Click – #ThinkB4UClick, the campaign illustrates, through real-life stories, animated clips and infographics, both pitfalls and good practices for our online activities.

06.10.2021

Marilyn Rinck joins the ABBL as Financial Markets Adviser

Marilyn Rinck joined the ABBL in October 2021 as Financial Markets Adviser, where she will support members by contributing to technical work in relation to the depositary and custody banking industry in Luxembourg.

30.09.2021

European Sustainable Development Week: the ABBL and its members commit daily to a more sustainable future

30.09.2021

Verena Ross, the new Chair of the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA)

Verena Ross has been appointed as the new Chair of the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA). After months of deadlock in the Council on the selection of the next ESMA Chair, Verena Ross has finally triumphed. Other candidates for the post were Portuguese Maria Luis Albuquerque, former Finance Minister of Portugal, and Italian Carmine di Noia, Commissioner of CONSOB (Commissione Nazionale per le Società e la Borsa). Carmine di Noia was the main rival in the race and the blockage in the Council was mainly due to what appeared to be differences between the German and Italian leaning groups of Member States.

22.09.2021

De-risking: the limits of AML/CFT rules on financial inclusion?

The legal framework for combating money laundering and terrorist financing may eventually lead to a decision by financial actors to de-risk. This observation follows recent concerns at the European level, including those raised by the European Banking Authority regarding de-risking practices in three position papers published in March 2021, as well as the launch by the FATF of a new project in February 2021 to study the unintended consequences of incorrect implementation of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) standards.

21.09.2021

Ech kann dat och: online banking for all, focus on senior citizens

Given the rapidly changing financial sector, the Ministry of Consumer Protection proposed to initiate an e-banking training programme in collaboration with the CSSF and the Fondation ABBL pour l’éducation financière. This initiative was all the more relevant as the ABBL was informed by the retail banks of the obstacles faced by senior citizens in using online platforms. While bank agents are attentive to their older customers and provide them with guidance on how to use their online platform, a dedicated online banking course was still missing.

21.09.2021

Galina Miroshnichenko joins the ABBL as Digital Banking and Payments Adviser

The digital transformation of our society is accelerating, and payment services are playing an increasingly important role, directly enabling this evolution. The role of the ABBL is to help its members address the challenges related to the urgent need for digital development and innovation, in order to be competitive, while ensuring compliance with complex regulations. The ABBL Payments Cluster provides a unique collaboration between stakeholders, allowing for discussion, experience sharing and exchange on key issues.

20.09.2021

The EU draft AML package : an attempt at further harmonisation in Europe

While the legislative proposals aim to harmonise certain fundamental principles of the current AML/CFT framework, they also seek to address the shortcomings identified in recent years, notably by strengthening communication and coordination between the private sector and public authorities. To this end, the European Commission has chosen a directly applicable European regulation to govern certain key AML/CFT professional obligations for all obliged entities in the European Union.

15.09.2021

Post-COVID: Reminder of the current rules

In order to support its members in this post-COVID period, ABBL legal experts have made an inventory of the rules in force.

04.08.2021

Results of the ABBL/CSSF Retail and Private Banking Surveys 2021

The ABBL has just received the results of our annual Retail Banking Survey and our Private Banking Survey, collecting information from our members active in those sectors, in collaboration with the CSSF. As always, these surveys provide a unique insight into the health of the banking sector in Luxembourg.

16.07.2021

Digitalisation of the economy and taxation: towards international tax reform

More than 130 countries and jurisdictions have endorsed the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Declaration of 1 July 2021 on a two-pillar reform plan to address the tax challenges raised by the digitalisation of the economy and the globalisation process.

16.07.2021

Revision of the Consumer Credit Directive

On 30 June 2021, the European Commission (EC) adopted a proposal for the revision of the Consumer Credit Directive. The latter was adopted in 2008 and, after several reports on its implementation over the last years, the EC has decided to adapt this piece of legislation to the digital transformations and the new market players, but also to the more recent EU legislation such as the GDPR and the Mortgage Credit Directive.

05.07.2021

The Luxembourg Tech School Hackathon: and the winners are... 

High school students from the Luxembourg Tech School (LTS) joined forces in a hackathon to get older people on board with digitalisation.

30.06.2021

Climate and ESG risks: the next big challenge for the banking sector

Climate and environmental risks could lead to significant financial losses and, as with other types of risk, need to be integrated into banks’ risk management. 

30.06.2021

Conference on post-crisis teleworking: key take-aways

At last week’s post-Covid teleworking conference, renowned local experts shared their knowledge in their field with ABBL members.

17.06.2021

The Cost of Regulation: 2020 ABBL and EY study

The ABBL and EY have just published a study on the Cost of Regulation. The main conclusions of this study, covering about ten different regulations, are:

17.06.2021

What the Commission has in store for the banks by the end of the year

Crisis management and depositary insurance, AIFMD review, supervisory convergence… Over the last few months, the European Commission has been busy with quite a number of consultations, conferences with stakeholders and the like. The ABBL and its members have been putting in extra hours to produce quality input and help the legislator tackle sometimes complex issues.

11.06.2021

End-of-year fund inventory process: practical guide ABBL

At the end of the fund’s financial year, fund depositaries are required to provide a complete inventory statement of assets. This obligation, defined in CSSF circulars 16/644 and 18/697, comes in addition to the requirements of the 2010 Law and the AIFMD Framework, as well as the Luxembourg audit confirmation process, whereby the fund’s auditors request certain information directly from the fund’s depositary.

11.06.2021

Signature of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement for banks

In excellent news for the banking sector, the Collective Bargaining Agreement was signed on Thursday 10 June. It will cover the years 2021 to 2023. The negotiations succeeded in taking into account the interests of all parties, resulting in an agreement beneficial to both the enterprises in the banking sector and their employees.

11.06.2021

Towards an EU digital identity wallet for all

On 3 June, the European Commission proposed a framework for a European Digital Identity which will be available to all EU citizens, residents, and businesses in the EU. The Commission builds on the existing cross-border legal framework for trusted digital identities, the European electronic identification and trust services initiative (eIDAS Regulation). Adopted in 2014, it provides the basis for cross-border electronic identification, authentication and website certification within the EU.

02.06.2021

Consultation on EU supervisory convergence and the single rulebook

As part of the Capital Markets Union (CMU) Action Plan, the European Commission has launched a consultation on the supervisory convergence and the single rulebook. In this article, we present the background to this consultation, as well as our detailed position as the ABBL on the most important aspects.

02.06.2021

EBF recommendations for a fairer and more efficient European tax framework

On 20 May 2021, the European Banking Federation (EBF) published an action plan for a fairer and more efficient European tax framework. The report, which follows the European Commission’s Communication on Business Taxation in the 21st Century, contains 10 concrete policy recommendations around the following four pillars:

26.05.2021

Diversity Awards honours Fondation ABBL pour l'éducation financière for the Zuumer Academy

26.05.2021

Focus on EU diversity policies

As the European Commission has launched a European Diversity month on 3 May, the ABBL Brussels office thought it would be a good opportunity to look at what the EU and in particular the European Commission is doing in that respect.

19.05.2021

An EU retail investment strategy – What's on the cards?

As part of its Capital Markets Union action plan (CMU), the European Commission wants to develop policies to increase retail investors participation in EU capital markets. The Commission is working on several policies to reach this goal and will publish a retail investment strategy for the first half of 2022. On 11 May, the European Commission published a public consultation to gather views and evidence from stakeholders to shape its policies. The Commission is focusing on the legal framework for retail investment, in particular UCITS, PRIIPs, MiFID II, IDD, PEPP and Solvency II, and wants to find out whether it is coherent, is it adapted to the profile and needs of retail investors?

17.05.2021

The rocky relationship between FinTechs and Banks: what are the challenges?

The world of FinTechs in Luxembourg has seen robust development over the last few years. Since the discovery of the “FinTech” concept by the public at large and the first inventory of the market carried out by Luxembourg for Finance (LFF) in 2015, Luxembourg has gradually become home to more than 200 FinTechs (including RegTechs, InsureTechs, firms adopting distributed ledger technology – DLT, and the ones related to crypto assets), which now form what can be called an ecosystem.

05.05.2021

Secondary market for non-performing loans (NPLs): a directive in the near future?

The draft Directive on the secondary market for non-performing loans (NPLs) aims to develop a secondary market for credit agreements initially issued by banks and qualified as non-performing.

28.04.2021

The make or break moment for sustainable finance

Last week was an exciting one for sustainable finance, starting on Wednesday with the adoption of the EU Climate Law by the Council and the European Parliament. This law turns the objectives of the European Green Deal into legal obligations: by 2030, the EU’s net greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced by at least 55% compared to 1990 levels, and by 2050 the EU must reach climate neutrality.

28.04.2021

eID or Electronic Identification: a major opportunity for banks

Electronic Identification (eID) offers numerous possibilities, as shown in the following scenario: as a bank based in Luxembourg, a customer wants to use your portfolio management services. Using the customer’s digital identity, you as a bank are able to verify the customer’s identity and perform all due diligence checks. You then send and receive the contract signed electronically by the customer and yourself.

23.04.2021

ABBL 2020 Annual Report

The ABBL 2020 Annual Report provides a detailed overview of our priorities and activities over the last year, and a look forward to the year ahead. 

22.04.2021

Digital finance package in the European Parliament: innovation and challenges

On 14 April the ECON Committee met for a joint debate on the digital finance package. During the debate, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) discussed the three draft reports prepared by rapporteurs on the pilot regime for market infrastructures based on distributed ledger technology (DLT), Markets in Crypto-assets (MiCA) and Digital operational resilience for the financial sector (DORA). The discussion focused on issues like the lack of clear definitions, fragmented supervision in the EU, the environmental impact of crypto currencies and their link to illegal activities.

22.04.2021

Prepping the future : a pilot regime for market infrastructures based on DLT

The EC proposal 2020/0267 (COD) on a pilot regime for market infrastructures based on distributed ledger technology introduces the possibility for certain types of EU financial market participants to operate a market infrastructure (MI) based on distributed ledger technology (DLT) with clear and uniform requirements. The aim of the European Commission is to remove regulatory hurdles to issuance, trading and post-trading of financial instruments in crypto-asset form. The proposed text provides for a so-called “pilot regime” for interested stakeholders to gain experience on the use of DLT for MIs, by making use of temporary derogations from existing rules.

05.03.2021

The ABBL marks its commitment to gender equality and women's empowerment