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Co-sponsored by:

Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi)

Kingdom of the Netherlands

Wednesday, March 13th  | 6:00 – 7:15PM

Delegates Dining Room, UN Headquarters

Watch Event Recording


The Women Entrepreneurs Finance Code (the WE Finance Code or, simply, the Code) is a commitment by financial service providers, regulators, development banks, and other financial ecosystem players to work together to increase funding provided to women-led micro, small and medium enterprises (WMSMEs) around the world, so that they can grow and add value to the economy and their communities. Coordinated by We-Fi and its Implementing Partners – six multilateral development banks, the Code will be piloted in 26 countries, a majority of which will launch their National Codes in March/April 2024.

Organized by We-Fi and co-sponsored by the Permanent Representation of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the United Nations, the CSW event aims to recognize the commitment and leadership of these countries through engaging their finance ministers and other public/private-sector champions in a high-level dialogue. The event aims to inspire collective action toward unlocking the economic potential of women, introduce the WE Finance Code through launching country-level pilots, and discuss the role of leadership, data, and innovation in driving systemic change in the financial ecosystem.

For more details on the WE Finance Code and a list of pilot countries, visit:

Opening Remarks

  • Ambassador Yoka M.G. Brandt, Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the United Nations in New York
  • Sima Sami Bahous, Executive Director, UN Women

Video Message

  • Bärbel Kofler, Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, Germany, Chair of the We-Fi Governing Committee

WE Finance Code Introduction

  • Wendy Teleki, Head, We-Fi Secretariat

Panel 1: the Gender Gap in Entrepreneurship and the Need to Invest in Women

  • Lenny N. Rosalin, Deputy Minister on Gender Equality, Ministry of Women Empowerment and Child Protection, Indonesia
  • H.E. Hanan Ahli, Managing Director of the Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Centre (FCSC), UAE
  • Moderated by: Asya Akhlaque, Practice Manager, Investment Climate, The World Bank

Panel 2: WE Finance Code: Driving Systemic Change for Women

  • H.E. Wafa Saed Bani Mustafa, Minister of Social Development and Chair of the Inter-Ministerial Committee for Women’s Empowerment, Jordan
  • Eseta Nadakuitavuki, Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Protection, Fiji
  • Dalma Hernández, Social Banking and Relationships Manager, the Dominican Banker’s Association
  • Mary Ellen Iskenderian, CEO, Women’s World Banking
  • Chantal Korteweg, Director of Inclusinve Banking, ABN AMRO (via video)
  • Moderator: Shakuntala Santhiran, International Journalist

Closing Remarks

  • Hana Brixi, World Bank Global Director for Gender

Hana Brixi, World Bank Global Director for Gender

As Global Director for Gender, Hana Brixi leads a global effort to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment. She sets the overall direction for the World Bank Group’s Gender knowledge agenda, drives Bank-wide efforts for results in closing gender gaps, and fosters partnerships with public and private sector stakeholders toward innovations at scale.

In her career, Ms. Brixi has contributed to advances in human development, public finance, and governance. As Manager of the Human Capital Project, she led a global effort to protect and invest in people with an emphasis on girls and women empowerment. Prior to this, she held managerial and leadership positions in the Social Protection & Jobs and Governance Global Practices and in the Middle East & North Africa, East Asia & Pacific, and Europe & Central Asia regions. Based in China during 2001-10, she also served as World Health Organization’s Manager and UNICEF Chief in China.

Ms. Brixi has published articles in professional journals and written several books on economic development, including Trust, Voice and Incentives on service delivery and Government at Risk on fiscal management. She holds graduate degrees in physics and economic policy from Masaryk University and Princeton University, respectively.

Wendy Teleki, Head, We-Fi Secretariat

Wendy Teleki is Head of the We-Fi Secretariat, which is housed in the World Bank Group. The Secretariat is responsible for supporting the We-Fi Governing Committee in the allocation and supervision of We-Fi funding as well as communications, advocacy, and learning focused on strengthening opportunities for women entrepreneurs in collaboration with the GC, Implementing Partners and other stakeholders.  Ms. Teleki joined We-Fi in May 2019.  Prior to that, Ms. Teleki worked with the International Finance Corporation leading numerous activities and initiatives focused on small and medium enterprise development in emerging markets around the world.   This included several blended finance, investment and advisory programs, including IFC’s We-Fi program and the Global SME Finance Initiative.  Wendy has an MBA in Finance from the Wharton School of Business and an MA in International Economics from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

Asya Akhlaque, Practice Manager, Investment Climate, The World Bank

Asya Akhlaque is Practice Manager for the Global Investment Climate Unit in the Finance, Competitiveness, and Innovation Global Practice at the World Bank Group. Since joining the Bank, she has worked on East Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia Region. In her most recent assignment, she was the Lead Economist in the East Asia and Pacific Region, based in Washington DC. Asya’s primary specialization is in microeconomic analysis of economic development.  She has led and coordinated analytical and operational work in the area of regulatory and business environment reforms, enterprise innovation and FDI and domestic linkages. Asya holds a Doctor of Philosophy and a Master’s degree in Economics from the University of Cambridge. She received her Bachelor degree in Economics from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

H.E. Yoka Brandt

Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the United Nations

Yoka M.G. Brandt is the Permanent Representative of the Netherlands to the United Nations in New York, and presented her credentials to the Chief of Protocol of the United Nations Ms. Beatrix Kania on September 2nd, 2020. Before her latest appointment, Ms. Brandt was Secretary-General of her country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs beginning in 2016, having previously served as Deputy Executive Director for Partnerships at the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) from 2012 to 2016.

At the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, she was Director-General for International Cooperation from 2008 to 2012, having served as Deputy Director‑General for International Cooperation from 2007 to 2008. She was Ambassador to Uganda from 2004 to 2007 and Ambassador to Eritrea from 2000 to 2004.  She also held various positions with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in The Hague and at missions from 1985 to 2000.

Ms. Brandt earned a master’s degree in geography and development economics at Utrecht University from 1976 to 1983.

Sima Sami Bahous, Executive Director, UN Women

A champion for women and girls, gender equality and youth empowerment, as well as a keen advocate for quality education, poverty alleviation and inclusive governance, Ms. Bahous brings to the position over 35 years of leadership experience at the grassroots, national, regional and international levels, coupled with expertise in advancing women empowerment and rights, addressing discrimination and violence, and promoting sustainable socio-economic development towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Ms. Bahous most recently served as Permanent Representative of Jordan to the United Nations in New York.  Prior to this position, she served as Assistant Administrator and Director of the Regional Bureau for Arab States at the United Nations Development Programme from 2012 to 2016 and Assistant Secretary-General and Head of the Social Development Sector at the League of Arab States, from 2008 to 2012.

She has also served in two ministerial posts in Jordan as President of the Higher Media Council from 2005 to 2008 and as Adviser to King Abdullah II from 2003 to 2005.  She was Media Adviser and Director of Communication for the Royal Hashemite Court from 2001 to 2003, Acting Executive Director for the King Hussein Foundation from 2000 to 2001 and Executive Director of the Noor Al Hussein Foundation from 1998 to 2001.  She also worked for UNICEF and with a number of United Nations and civil society organizations, and taught development and communication studies at different universities in Jordan.

Ms. Bahous holds a PhD in mass communication and development from Indiana University, United States, a Master of Arts in literature and drama from Essex University, United Kingdom, and a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from Jordan University.  She is fluent in Arabic and English, and proficient in French.

H.E. Hanan Ahli

Director of the Federal Competitiveness & Statistics Center, United Arab Emirates

Her Excellency Hanan Ahli is the Director of the Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Centre (FCSC), a government entity affiliated with the Ministry of Cabinet Affairs in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The Centre works on developing and enhancing the UAE’s performance in the sectors of global competitiveness, statistics and data through coordination with partners to implement initiatives and define policies of importance to vital sectors across the UAE. The Centre is considered as one of the most important government sources for national data, and for monitoring the competitive performance of the UAE in global reports, and hold the responsibility for the SDGs in the UAE.

In her capacity as the Director of FCSC, Hanan looks after a range of policies outlined in the UAE’s National Agenda, with a particular focus on supporting gender balance, promoting favorable business regulations, and strengthening the performance in the UAE’s public sector.

Prior to this designation, Hanan held the position of the Executive Director of the Competitiveness Sector at the Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Authority (FCSA) (name amended to the Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Centre in 2020), a UAE federal entity created by a Presidential decree in 2015. During her tenure as Executive Director, Hanan focused on supporting the competitiveness of the United Arab Emirates, by enhancing the performance of major economic, commercial and social sectors in the country, through launching initiatives and strategies that aimed at improving the performance of the country’s institutions on global competitiveness indexes and reports.

Hanan Ahli has extensive experience in business administration, policy-making and financing programs. Prior to joining the government sector, Hanan worked for Mawarid Finance, PJSC, where she led finance operations with a special focus on Islamic finance.

Hanan holds an MBA from the American University of Sharjah, and a Bachelor’s degree in Business Sciences from Zayed University. She is a graduate of the UAE Government Leadership Program, in the Future Leadership category and Policies Diploma, and has credentials from the London Business School, Institute of Management Development (IMD), and Harvard Kennedy School

Lenny N. Rosalin, Deputy Minister on Gender Equality, Ministry of Women Empowerment and Child Protection, Indonesia

Ms. Lenny Rosalin is Deputy Minister for Gender Equality, Ministry of Women Empowerment and Child Protection. She has vast experience in the issues of demography, gender equality, child protection and development. She is the co-writer of several publications that include Gender Analysis Pathway (GAP) in Indonesia and the editor of a number of other publications such as Gender Analysis in the Development of Education and Gender Analysis in the Development of Social Welfare. She also took active part in the writing of the Income and Saving for Indonesia published by Bappenas and East West Centre of Hawaii, USA. With a Master of Science Degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA, she was a lecturer at the post graduate school of Sociology at University of Indonesia, Borobudur University and Atmajaya University.

H.E. Wafa Bani Mustafa, Minister of Social Development and Chair of the Inter-Ministerial Committee for Women’s Empowerment, Jordan

H.E. Wafa Bani Mustafa previously occupied the position of Minister of State for Legal Affairs (2021-2022). Wafa is a lawyer and a former Member in the Jordanian House of Representatives representing Jerash governorate for three consecutive terms (2010-2020). She is the first Jordanian woman MP to chair a parliamentary bloc. She is a founder of the Jordanian Women Caucus, and the Chairperson of the Coalition of Women MPs from Arab Countries to Combat Violence against Women.

Wafa is a member of the Constitution Sub-Committee of the Royal Committee to Modernize the Political System, and has occupied the position of the Vice Chair of IPU Standing Committee for Sustainable Development.  She is a founding member in the Forum of Arab Parliamentarians for Population and Development. She occupied the position of Women Political Leaders’ Ambassador to Jordan and now occupies the position of WPL Special Envoy to Arabia.

Wafa’s interests are not limited to women’s issues and human rights only, but she also has interests in preserving the environment and the climate as she is a member in the Climate Parliament, a member in IRENA Legislators Forum, and an international observer on the legislative elections within the international missions.

Eseta Nadakuitavuki, Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Protection, Fiji

Ms. Eseta Nadakuitavuki is Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Protection in Fiji. Ms. Nadakuitavuki is an experienced manager with a demonstrated history of working in the banking industry. Skilled in banking, sales, commercial banking, public speaking, and management. Ms. Nadakuitavuki holds a Bachelor’s Degree focused in Management and Public Administration and Industrial Relations from The University of the South Pacific.

Dalma Hernández, Social Banking and Relationships Manager, the Dominican Banker’s Association

Dalma Hernández is the Social Banking and Relationships Manager at the Dominican Banker’s Association. She is a graduate in Economics from the Pontifical Catholic University Mother and Teacher (PUCMM) and holds a master’s degree in Applied Economics from the Central University of Finance and Economics in Beijing, China. She has more than 10 years of experience in economics and economic and social development.

Mary Ellen Iskenderian, CEO, Women’s World Banking

Mary Ellen Iskenderian is President and CEO of Women’s World Banking, the global nonprofit devoted to giving low-income women in the developing world access to the financial tools and resources they require to achieve security and prosperity. She joined Women’s World Banking in 2006 and leads the Women’s World Banking global team, based in New York, and also serves as a member of the Investment Committee of its two impact investment funds.

Prior to Women’s World Banking, Mary Ellen worked for 17 years at the International Finance Corporation, the private sector arm of the World Bank. She had previously worked for the investment bank Lehman Brothers. Mary Ellen is a permanent member of the Council on Foreign Relations, as well as a member of the Women’s Forum of New York. She serves as a Director on the Board of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

A 2017 Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center Fellow, Mary Ellen holds an MBA from the Yale School of Management and a Bachelor of Science in International Economics from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. Most recently, she was recognized in the Forbes 50 over 50: Investment list, which highlights female investors and financial leaders. Her first book, There’s Nothing Micro About a Billion Women: Making Finance Work for Women, was published by MIT Press in April 2022.

Chantal Korteweg

Director, Inclusive Banking ABN AMRO Bank N.V. and Dutch UN Women’s Representative 2023

Trained as a lawyer, Chantal feels strongly about social justice. She is a strategic executor and contributes to making our world a better, inclusive and more sustainable place. She is a proud mother of a son and daughter and has become an all-round professional. She started her career as an attorney-at-law, and then worked for FMO, the Dutch Development bank for 13 years in different roles as development banker and later as Director for Strategy and Stakeholders and ExCo member responsible for different teams and running change programs. She grew up in England and the Netherlands, which sparked her love for travel, culture and different perspectives. She was privileged to work on many investments and transformational initiatives in emerging markets. During the past 10 years she passionately worked on female leadership and gender finance. She initiated the Fempower Your Growth partnership, a Dutch Financial Sector initiative, connecting the worlds of bankers and female entrepreneurs. She is an advisory board member at NABC (Netherlands Africa Business Council). Currently, she works as Director Inclusive Banking at ABN AMRO to make banking products and services more inclusive and accessible for women and others. In addition, she is a member of ABN AMRO’s ethical committee. In 2022 Chantal was nominated as 1 of the 50 Dutch female leaders in sustainable finance and as 1 of the 30 Dutch inclusive leaders (Sprout). In 2023 Chantal is appointed as the women’s representative of the Netherlands and will deliver a speech in the UN General Assembly.

Shakuntala Santhiran, International Journalist (MC/Moderator) 

Ms. Shakuntala Santhiran, Shaks for short- is an international broadcast journalist and professional moderator. She has more than 2 decades of experience as a television news anchor, reporter and producer with leading media organizations including the BBC, CNN International and Al Jazeera English. Born in Singapore and educated at Smith College and Boston University in the United States, Shaks has lived and worked in multiple cities around the world including Boston, London, Hong Kong, Kyoto, Doha and now New York. She speaks several languages including English, Mandarin and conversational Japanese.