MEDIA RELEASE | Women’s World Banking Celebrates 40 Years of Impact on the Lives of Women around the Globe

April 4, 2019


Karen Miller


New York, New York – Women’s World Banking celebrates its 40th anniversary today in New York, recognizing its rich history in building economic security and prosperity for more than 30 million low-income women around the world. During the evening event, Women’s World Banking will honor White & Case, Citi, and Dr. Jennifer Riria for their tremendous support of Women’s World Banking and leadership in women’s financial inclusion.

The idea for Women’s World Banking came out of the 1st World Conference on Women held in Mexico City in 1975. Three visionary leaders, Michaela Walsh, Ela Bhatt, and Esther Ocloo identified access to finance as a key barrier for women to become full economic actors throughout the world. Four years later, Women’s World Banking was established with Michaela Walsh as its first President.

“Over the last 40 years, our commitment to ensuring low-income women have the financial tools and services to build economic security for themselves and their families has been unwavering,” said Mary Ellen Iskenderian, President and CEO of Women’s World Banking. “Today, our work is as relevant as ever as women still face persistent barriers to accessing and using well-designed financial products that meet their specific needs.”

The evening program will feature exhibits from Women’s World Banking’s history, including highlights from its leadership & diversity programs, Capital Markets work, new products, women-centered design experience and research and insights from work in more than 30 countries.

“Our work would not be possible without the passionate and resolute staff, board, funders and advocates that have supported us throughout our 40-year history,” continued Mary Ellen Iskenderian. “I’m particularly pleased to be honoring Dr. Jennifer Riria, White & Case, and Citi for their significant contributions to Women’s World Banking’s impact on women, communities and economies.”

Dr. Jennifer Riria is the Group CEO of Echo Network Africa, founding member of Kenya Women Holding and Kenya Women Finance Trust and former Board Chair of Women’s World Banking. Her visionary leadership has made her one of Africa’s leading entrepreneurs while her commitment to women’s financial inclusion has earned her international recognition.

White & Case is a pioneering global law firm that delivers results for well-established banks and businesses, as well as start-up visionaries, governments and state-owned entities. In 2018, White & Case’s global pro bono practice provided more than 120,000 hours of legal services focused on access to justice, promoting the rule of law, and serving organizations with social and environmental missions. Women’s World Banking has been a recipient of White & Case’s pro bono legal services since our founding.

Citi has been recognized as the World’s Best Bank for Financial Inclusion. Citi’s Inclusive Finance Team has also been instrumental in providing financing of micro and inclusive finance institutions to more than one million women borrowers around the world, showing that serving the underbanked is positive for business growth.

Women’s World Banking’s 40th anniversary is generously supported by Citi, Boston Consulting Group, White & Case, ExxonMobil, and Oliver Wyman. Women’s World Banking’s work is made possible through the generous support of our core funders: Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Sweden’s International Development Cooperation Agency.


Women’s World Banking designs and invests in the financial solutions, institutions and policy environments in emerging markets to create greater economic stability and prosperity for women, their families, and their communities. With a global reach of 53 partners in 32 countries serving more than 30 million women clients, Women’s World Banking drives impact through its scalable, market-driven solutions; gender-lens private equity fund; and leadership and diversity programs.