Henriette Kolb: She’s Banking on Equality

May 15 - On The Dot
FIRST THOUGHT: Advocating for Gender Equality Worldwide

While some neighborhood kids were recently wildly jumping on their trampoline, I heard one boy holler, “You can’t do that; you’re a girl.” I immediately cringed. Do you remember hearing that very thing? Do you still hear it?

Today, we’re diving into worldwide gender equality, and unfortunately, this is a topic that can be pretty depressing, y’all. But when dreaming of a world in which all women are truly equal to men, keep Iceland in mind. Yes, Iceland. In 1975, 90 percent of Icelandic women walked off their jobs to protest the wage gap, bringing the country to a screeching halt. These days, Iceland is consistently ranked as the number one country for gender equality. Clearly, sisterhood can move some mountains.


There’s no doubt a key component of standing on your own two lady feet is money, honey. In a recent report titled Women, Business and the Law 2016: Getting to Equal, World Bank economists identified 155 economies throughout the world that have at least one law on the books that limits women’s economic opportunities, 100 that put restrictions on the type of work women can do, and 18 economies in which husbands are allowed to prevent their wives from working. As the president of The World Bank notes, we have to take action now. It’s time to #BeBoldForChange.

WOMAN TO WATCH: Henriette Kolb, Head of Gender Secretariat at the International Finance Corporation

When it comes to gender equality, the truth is we can’t expect men in power to fight for women’s rights. Some of the good guys will, but we really must depend on ourselves and our women leaders to get our hands dirty and push equality forward. Henriette Kolb is one woman diligently working to ensure women the world over have access to the same opportunities as men. Henriette leads the Gender Secretariat at the International Finance Corporation, a member of the World Bank Group, and serves as an advocate for gender equality issues in the private sector.

Henriette leads a team that works with IFC clients to include women as entrepreneurs, employees, leaders, stakeholders and more. She has a strategic leadership style, one in which she encourages innovation and thoughtful policies. Her strengths as an advocate for gender equality stem from her time working as the United Nations’ special coordinator for the Middle East peace process. Her work with the U.N. and the European Commission took this passionate advocate to places like Tanzania and Palestine, giving her a firsthand understanding that the most efficient and effective businesses and teams are diverse.

Prior to her work with the IFC, Henriette was the CEO of the nonprofit Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, a women’s-empowerment organization that reached more than 70,000 women in 50-plus countries under her leadership. She remains involved with the foundation as a senior advisor.

As if her day job of working to grow women’s economic opportunities worldwide weren’t enough, this amazingly hardworking lady also serves on Hillary Clinton’s International Council on Women’s Business Leadership, which is part of the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security.

We are so grateful for women like Henriette, those genuine visionaries creating and demanding a world of new opportunities for women and girls everywhere.


Inspired by Henriette Kolb’s important work, I’ll leave you today with a quote from lifelong women’s advocate, Hillary Clinton. She said:

“When women participate in the economy, everyone benefits.”

This is Melinda Garvey signing off until next time. Remember, ladies, empowered women empower other women. Share On the Dot so more women can have a voice. Thanks for getting ready with us.

To learn more about our conversation, check us out at OnTheDotWoman.com and talk to us @OnTheDotWoman on Twitter and Instagram. We’d love to hear your voice.

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