When One of Us Rises, We All Do 

It’s International Women’s Day, and we at EWPN want to appreciate the achievements feminists, women and girls have made in fighting for gender equality and women’s rights. Let’s celebrate some recent glass-ceiling-shattering moments:

Africa: Nigerian-born Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala recently became the first woman and first African to lead the World Trade Organization. Known as “Dr. Ngozi”, she was the first female to run for the World Bank presidency, where she spent 25 years. These aren’t her only “firsts” – she was the first woman to serve as Nigeria’s finance minister, the first woman to serve in that office twice, and the only finance minister to have served under two different presidents.

Asia: Japan’s Seiko Hashimoto has been appointed the next Tokyo 2020 president of the Olympics (games in 2021) after the former chief Yoshiro Mori resigned over sexist comments he made. Ms. Hashimoto has an impressive background – she was most recently Japan’s Olympic Minister and is herself a seven-time Olympian, having competed as a cyclist and a speed skater.

Latin America: The Argentinian senate recently approved legislation of abortion, a ground-breaking milestone for women’s rights. Argentina’s Women’s Minister, Elizabeth Gómez Alcorta, said that “we’re making history“, and President Alberto Fernández tweeted, “Today, we’re a better society, which widens women’s rights and guarantees public health.” As Argentina is one of the largest and most influential countries in the region, many hope this will inspire other countries to follow suit.

New Zealand: Not only has Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern been praised for being an empathetic and outstanding leader, she led her party to win an outright majority, the first since the country implemented a new voting system in 1996. She is among the most powerful women worldwide, having successfully led New Zealand through a terrorist attack, a natural disaster and a global pandemic – all while focusing on kindness and compassion.

United States: Former Californian senator, Kamala Harris, made history a few months ago as the first female, first South Asian and first black Vice President of the United States. To many, she is a symbol of fighting for gender inequality and racism, having also achieved many “firsts” in her career as an attorney and lawmaker. We applaud her post-election speech where she said, “while I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last.”

Europe: Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg has shown the power and effect a young woman can have if she only fights hard enough. At age 16, Greta started the Friday for Future movement to raise awareness of the devastating influence we have on our climate, which then leads to other consequences. She’s led the largest climate strike in history, and her speech to world leaders at the UN Climate Action Summit ruffled a few feathers, to say the very least, including shocking statements from public male figures about her appearance, sex appeal, intellect and even her Asperger’s Syndrome diagnosis.

Equally inspiring are Christine Legarde and Ursula von der Leyen, who are among the Doyennes of the European public sector. Ms. Legarde is the first female President of the European Central Bank. She was also the first woman to head the International Monetary Fund and the first woman finance minister of a G8 economy. Ms. von der Leyen is the first female President of the European Commission, as well as the first German to lead the EU in more than a half-century.

We’ve, of course, mentioned only a fraction of amazing women – and while we highlight those who have made international news, it’s even more important to recognise that progress isn’t only about big headline moments, legal victories and international agreements. Change happens from acts of courage and determination by ordinary women.

The EWPN community is committed to championing diversity, equity and inclusion in the fintech industry. We salute all those who have come before us, leading us to today’s progress, and we look forward to mentoring and providing opportunities for tomorrow’s voices – because “when one of us rises, we all do.”



Written by Sandrine Wagner (EWPN Marketing Intern) and Regina Lau (EWPN Executive Board member and Board Advisor, CCO & CFO at Dali Spaces & InvestFem).

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