All of us at Women’s World Banking are devastated to learn the sad news of Viji Das’ passing. Throughout her life she was a strong, clear and brave voice for women’s empowerment at a time when it was hard, and sometimes even dangerous, for such views to be expressed. Indian microfinance exists because of the vision of Viji Das. Thanks to her willingness to share that vision with others around the world, women everywhere owe a debt of gratitude to her for her courage and determination in promoting greater access to financial services to women, many of whom were among the poorest and most isolated in society.
As her life ends, so her legacy endures. Friends of Women’s World Banking, an institution that Viji led since 1989, and its sister organization, Ananya, that Viji founded in 2009 have worked with hundreds of financial institutions in India to provide financial services for millions of low income women. She was frequently the first lender willing to “take a chance” on financing newly-created microfinance institutions, including our own network member, Ujjivan. Her financial and technical support enabled those organizations to have an even greater impact on the lives not only of their women customers, but on their children and their wider communities as well.
Although she has gone from us, Viji will always be a beacon to light the path our collective work to empower more women and help them build better lives through access to financial services. Her memory will drive us to even greater efforts for equality and we will strive every day to mirror her energy, her passion, her creativity, and her humanity.