Our team at Women’s World Banking, together with our network member Ujjivan Financial Services Ltd. in India, are thrilled to unveil a special project entitled Celebrating Women Leaders: Profiles of Financial Inclusion Pioneers.

Celebrating Women Leaders

This co-published book contains 31 profiles of women leaders from around the world who have played pioneering roles in bringing financial services to women. Each profile was researched and written by a woman currently working in the financial inclusion sector.

The profiles range from some of our earliest heroes–the revolutionary founder of Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) in India Ela Bhatt and Women’s World Banking founding President Michaela Walsh—to women who are carrying on the mission of women’s financial inclusion today such as Marie Louise Nsabiyumva, Director General of Caisse Coopérative d’Epargne et de Crédit Mutuel in Burundi, and Muna Sukthian, Managing Director of Microfund for Women in Jordan. We were also honored to profile many distinguished Women’s World Banking alumni who continue their commitment to financial inclusion in new positions of leadership, including Elizabeth Littlefield, Chairperson, President and CEO of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), and Ruth Goodwin-Groen, Managing Director of the Better Than Cash Alliance.

Ujjivan’s Founder and CEO Samit Ghosh came up with the idea for this project, and Women’s World Banking staff was honored to contribute to his vision for a collection of diverse and inspirational stories of women leaders of yesterday and today.

In the book’s foreword, Samit wrote of his inspiration for the project.

“In the last ten years, as I wandered through the world of financial inclusion, I came across outstanding women leaders. They have made immense contribution to the cause, in their quiet and unobtrusive manner. Unfortunately, in this loud and clamorous world, their contributions have the danger of going un-noticed…The source of inspiration for this book was my late wife, Elaine. She was critical of the fact that though our customers were women, the gender balance in the organizations often was heavily tilted towards men. She wondered why even in this space men took on the key roles, as though they understood the problems of women better.”

Women’s World Banking President and CEO added her thoughts to foreword as well:

“It’s a truly exciting time to be working on the cutting edge of financial inclusion as we harness the potential of digital technology to reach more women than ever before. As we look forward though, our history is never far from our minds. We would not be here without the visionary work of the pioneers who came before us, especially the women leaders who fought to build the very first banks for women in countries with seemingly insurmountable barriers. We’re honored that many of those institutions are still a part of Women’s World Banking’s global network today.”

This story collection will be an ongoing project for years to come as more pioneering women are profiled for their contributions to women’s financial inclusion.