WOMANi PATRON-IN-CHIEFSTELLA COX, CBE
It is almost ten years since WOMANi embarked upon its mission to raise awareness of influential women who are active in Islamic finance and business. During the time elapsed since, we have witnessed a transformation within our Islamic financial services industry, apparent also within various other halal economy sectors that are very closely aligned with us, as we have grown year upon year and extended our footprint into new markets, sectors and geographies.
In parallel, the past decade has also embodied a significant and necessary transformation of the profile of the many women who work within our markets, sectors and industries. As a result, we have, I believe, proven the direct correlation between their proactive and increasing participation at all levels of our business and the elevation of positive impact that is being delivered in combination with more traditional products, services and outputs. It is an impact so positive that it extends beyond business and markets, permeating family, community and wider society.
I believe that the elevation of awareness amongst our global Islamic banking and finance practitioner community, that being a greater awareness of the professional merits of women in their own right as well as of their role in corporate contribution, is in no small way due to the concerted efforts of WOMANi to recognise, annually and variously, the achievements of the numerous and ever-expanding community of women that it represents so positively.
When I was honoured by being named as the Most Influential Woman in Islamic Finance in 2018, I was proud to join a cohort of 100 individuals, WOMANi having recently expanded its ranking from 10. In 2021, WOMANi recognised the contribution and achievements of 350 professional women within a ranking that was widened to encompass areas of business, as well as finance, and which reflected not only talent, skills and achievement but also diversity in practice, perspective and geography. In 2022 further initiatives have been introduced to reflect specific areas of achievement and excellence.
Of course, the ambition and progression of WOMANi has not been without its challenges and, for its organisers, it has necessitated the scoping of the ranking to extend beyond banking and financial services to business, thereby supporting the potential inclusion of many more women, including public and private sector influencers, academics and entrepreneurs. As a result, WOMANi has needed to reprofile its own ranking considerations by using a methodology that, as always, remains focused on leadership, advocacy and recognition of peers and other parties, but it is now combined with a quantitative, weighted approach to evaluating the relative contributions of each individual that is determined by their own sphere of business and engagement as well as the territories and markets in which they are active. The outcome is a process designed to embody a more balanced approach to assembling a ranking of individuals growing rapidly in number and whose credentials, focus, business and professional activities display such diverse characteristics and factors.
From its inception, WOMANi has committed to empowering women; to enabling, accelerating and celebrating their success; to ensuring women receive just recognition of their skills and achievements. It is equally committed to supporting women as they continue to reset their own ambitions and the expectations of others; gain access to opportunities to pursue the careers to which they aspire and for which, increasingly, they have been educated and trained; to assume their rightful place in the business and finance world and, in the words of WOMANi “to shatter the glass ceilings that remain”.
WOMANi’s work will, god willing, continue to raise awareness, provide opportunities and celebrate the achievements and success of women from its global platform but, equally importantly, it will serve to support and nurture an extraordinary network of women. For these are women who emanate from incredibly diverse backgrounds, but who have come together through WOMANi and who are positioned to play a central and essential role in accelerating the trajectory of Islamic finance and business in the years to come. I am immensely proud to call them my sisters, my friends and my colleagues, as I am immensely proud to be the current Patron-in-chief of WOMANi