Helping Women Realise Their Ambitions
By Catherine Wines, Co-Founder of WorldRemit
Today is International Women’s Day.
In the year when we celebrate the 100-year anniversary of women’s votes in the UK, I know that we have achieved much in the past century. The changes I have experienced in my own lifetime in terms of attitudes to women have been tremendous. I often recount the story of my first job – many moons ago. When asking for support to undertake my accountancy studies, my boss told me that he did not think women made good accountants! You can rest assured that I voted with my feet and left shortly after this encounter. My next employer was much more supportive and I was able to complete my studies to qualify as an accountant which helped me to achieve a successful career in business.
Although you would believe it unthinkable that such statements could be made today, the reality is different – remember the controversial Google memo last year about women in tech! There is still a lot of work to be done in order to change minds and perceptions. Legislation has a role to play but it cannot achieve it alone. It was astonishing to find out in a survey carried by Tech City this week that girls did not think they could make it in tech jobs.
As women, we have a key role to play in ensuring change. It has to start at grass roots level. This starts at home with your daughters giving them the confidence that they can achieve anything if they set their mind to it. It continues at school – we must interact with teachers and pupils to show them role models and encourage them to move to areas which may have been traditionally considered ‘male’. Then we must support each other at work by mentoring and sponsoring our younger colleagues.
At the same time, it is not all doom and gloom. In the UK as in other developed economies, women have made significant contribution to society and we should celebrate all their achievements. Just look at the Women in FinTech Power List published by Innovate Finance.
However, I would like us to think about women in emerging economies who have not yet seen the same gains we have made here. Women in many places around the world are still being refused basic rights such as education or being able to have and use their own money.
It is startling to think that in this day and age, 1.1 billion women are not within the formal financial system. Although still far too high, this number is slowly shrinking and technology is helping. The rise in digital mobile money accounts where funds can be used directly from mobile phones without the need for a bank account, has given women greater financial autonomy.
So today let’s celebrate but also let’s see what each and everyone of us can do at home, school or in the workplace and let’s not forget all the women around the world who are struggling. Let’s speak out for them and support organisations who are working to help them achieve a better life.