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Ruby attends forum to create financial equality for women

29 May 2014

Oxford University

Back in 2013 under the auspices of the Said Business School, Power Shift: the Oxford Forum for Women in the World Economy set about investigating the relationship between women and the world of finance to take action on behalf of women-owned businesses. It’s an area that is languishing world-wide.

This year, I was invited to present at the second forum and, along with my colleague Lisa Ronson (whose photos feature here), I have to say it was an incredible experience. Held at Oxford University (above) from May 27 to 29, the location made me feel like I was in a Harry Potter novel. The gala dinner was in Balliol College (below), which was founded in 1263. It’s one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England.

Balliol College Dinner

I noticed there were not a lot of females in Balliol College’s Alumni, maybe that’s because women have only been allowed to go to the college in the past 30 years or so.

If you think about it that’s not the only place from which women have been excluded. Women have been excluded from the “system” of money for more than 2000 years, and unless you are someone like JK Rowling - who in a UK Daily Mail article from 2006 was estimated to earn around £1million every three days – you will usually find women are most often engaged in unpaid labour, usually barred from inheriting wealth, frequently forbidden to have bank accounts, and commonly unable to own property.

What’s wrong with this scenario? Well, effectively it has meant women in the history of the world have been effectively left out of the world of investment and credit and the “prints of that past exclusion can still be seen in the laws and practices of developed and developing nations”.

The Power Shift Forum aims to change this by uncovering exclusionary practices, identifying effective reforms, and celebrating champions of change. 

Many major institutions throughout the world are already working together to create a more inclusive system to promote growth and equality. It’s where Westpac has been particularly strong. In fact, we are global best practice in the area and that’s why I delivered “Designing Financial Services for Women”, a workshop that discussed how to craft a holistic approach to women’s banking needs: finance, information, education, and networking.

One of the key calls to action of the Forum as a whole was to push out the petition for financial inclusion, which was launched during the proceedings: Put Financial Inclusion for Women into the UN's Post-2015 Development Goals.

The petition has had lots of traction on social media, but needs signatures. If you’ve not yet signed, please go right now to bit.ly/WomensFinancialInclusion and add your name to the global call for women’s financial inclusion.

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