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Power Shift 2014: Women and Finance

Power Shift 2014, the Oxford Forum for Women in the World Economy, is ready to go. The theme this year will be women and finance.  We have drawn in speakers to cover the full range of financial issues for women, from careers in the sector to capital access for entrepreneurs to savings accounts for poor women.  The event will begin on the afternoon of May 27, in Oxford, and will end with a bang the afternoon of May 29.

Indeed, the final gesture is perhaps the best part:  the Vice Chancellor of the University of Oxford will lead the signing of a petition to encourage the United Nations to put financial inclusion for women in the post-2015 Millennium Development Goals.  We will invite the Power Shift audience to sign it and then will take it to the lobby of the Said School, where students, faculty, and staff from around Oxford can also sign it.  We will livestream all of this activity and plan to ask everyone to shout out over social media that it is happening. Then the petition will go up on a site where the whole world can sign it.  I think it is going to be thrilling!


We really do ritual well at Oxford and I hope to bring that 800 year tradition to the signing of a very 21st century imperative: a petition for women’s financial inclusion.


This historic moment will be the culmination of two days of intensive sessions with experts from around the world talking about how we should rethink gender and money, so that we can lift the barriers between women and financial autonomy.  The experience will open with a reception at the Ashmolean Museum, which houses one of the finest coin collections in the world and curators will be on hand to talk to us about the history of women and money.

Over the next two days, the speakers will include Melanne Verveer, former US Ambassador-at-Large for Women to the United Nations, Walt Macnee, President of MasterCard Center for Inclusive Growth, and Musimbi Kanyoro, head of the Global Fund for Women.  Important financial innovations will be showcased by a range of major institutions.  We have leading thinkers in gender lens investing and feminist economics to shake up our precepts.  An array of workshops and conversations and discussion groups will allow the participants to engage with each other.


We will gather by candlelight in the ancient dining hall of Balliol College. Founded in 1263, Balliol was home to the market economy’s most foundational thinker, Adam Smith, author of The Wealth of Nations.


And, of course, there will be Oxford traditions, from a formal dinner at one of the oldest colleges to an Oxford Union debate on the tongue-in-cheek question, “This house believes that The City is no place for a lady.”

A key part of the Power Shift experience is the teaching of a case study written especially for the topic.  This year, three of our most senior faculty, Peter Tufano, John Deighton, and David Upton, will teach again.  I wrote the case with Dr. Jiafei Jin, of Southwestern University of Finance and Economics, based on research we have done in China. The focus is on the informal barriers to capital experienced by female entrepreneurs, but the problem is set against a backdrop of employment discrimination and family demands.


Dean of the Said School Peter Tufano teaching last year’s Power Shift case.


Power Shift is by invitation because we want everyone there to be actively committed to women’s economic empowerment and because we try to convene a balanced group of experts from  all sectors. However, it is by no means a “closed shop.”  If you feel you would contribute to the discussion, you should write to wwef@sbs.ox.ac.uk, telling them something about your background and why you would like to come.

For more information about Power Shift 2014 and a detailed agenda, click here.

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