The Speech of Ann De Wilde (BELRIM)
Why did we choose to invite you to the cinema for a Ladies Mind Risk event?
Yesterday I’m sure you all received congratulations, flowers and chocolates to celebrate the International Women’s Day. Just in case this was overlooked, we wanted to make sure you feel appreciated.
On the other hand, the very fact that you’re all sitting here in this plush and comfortable position, that you’ve all got jobs, a home, a bank account, a say in what our governments decide, etc., etc., is thanks to the continued efforts of women (and men) who fought for women’s rights over the past centuries.
To give you a quick overview of some turning points and decisive moments in the life of women in general and more particularly in Belgium, I would like to invite you to draw a timeline in your mind’s eye, starting with the birthdate of your grandmothers and indicating your own birthday and those of your daughters and granddaughters if you have any.
I find that it helps to visualize the events and to feel the true impact of the laws that changed women’s lives.
You could wonder why we need Women’s Rights at all, as we already have general human rights. Women’s rights should not be special rights. Yet it is clear that gender equality is still no reality – even in 2023.
When we go as far back as 1495, the Italian writer Christine de Pizan published a book about women’s position in society. She commented on books written by men about the sins and weaknesses of girls and women and whether women were really human beings at all, or whether they were more similar to animals.
We need to jump ahead a few centuries before things start moving.
In 1804, under the Code Napoleon, marriage was not a union between equal partners. The woman was the property of the man, giving up her independence and legal competence in return for protection and maintenance. Only in 1985 the legal incapacity of the married woman is abolished by law. That is 180 years later!
One of my grandmothers was born in 1895. When you realize that universities opened for women in 1880, if you project that to today that would mean that as a woman you could only go to university since 2008. And realize that nowadays in Afghanistan things go backwards, as girls can no longer go to school.
In 1921 women could vote in municipal elections, and it would take more than 20 years until 1948 until Belgian men and women enjoyed the same voting rights in parliamentary elections.
1948 is the year Simone de Beauvoir wrote “Le deuxième Sexe”, known as the feminist bible.
In 1957, our country signed Article 119 of the convention of Rome, stipulating the principle of equal pay for male and female workers. Yet, it took another ten years before workers were allowed to go to court if they did not the same pay for the same work.
A small personal anecdote: In 1956, the year my husband was born, his father fell seriously ill and could no longer work. Yet, his mother, who was previously a teacher in a Catholic school, had to ask a special derogation from the bishop to be allowed to work as a married woman. And this practice continued for many years.
Until 1976, women could not open a bank account without the permission of their husband.
Only in 1979 marital rape was recognized as a crime.
My three daughters were born in 1983 -1985 – 1989.
My three granddaughters were born in 2011 – 2014 – 2016.
In 1990, abortion is fully legalized in Belgium, in 2018 it is removed from the Belgian Penal Code, which is rather symbolic as it is still punishable.
In 2023, a study published by the High Council for Employment states that female labour force participation rate in Belgium rose from 50% in 1995 to 67% in 2021. The average wage gap would now be 8,5%.
You may notice that in the last 40 years, not so very much has changed. We see protest marches of Me Too and other campaigners, and they are still needed. I will not take off my T-shirt or walk in the streets screaming for equal treatment, but I do hope that an evening like this one can be an eye-opener, a reminder or an incentive to help promote gender equality as best we can.
The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2022 projected that, at the current rate of progress, it will take 132 years to reach gender parity globally. The index was launched in 2006 and yet in the 16 years that followed, the gender gap closed by only 4%.
Changing mentalities is a very slow process. We need female leaders. That’s why we’ve chosen tonight’s film.
Diane will tell you a bit about the strong woman it’s all about.
The document “Women in Risk Management Functions: Breaking Barriers Every Day”
Gone are the days when women were only recognized as homemakers and were considered incapable of making important decisions concerning financial matters. Today, women are breaking barriers in various fields, including risk management functions.
Risk management refers to the identification, assessment, and mitigation of potential risks that could negatively impact an organization’s objectives. This function requires a keen sense of judgment, strategic thinking, and a strong financial background. While men have traditionally dominated this field, women are increasingly proving their worth in risk management functions.
In recent years, women’s visibility in risk management has increased, with many leading global companies appointing women to top positions in this field. They bring fresh perspectives to risk management, their unique leadership styles, and a wealth of experience from different backgrounds and careers.
Gender diversity in risk management is beneficial for businesses, providing different views on the business risks and a balanced approach to decision-making. Women bring different life experiences, communication styles, and problem-solving techniques, which can help organizations develop effective plans to mitigate risks.
Additionally, women are proven to be more risk-averse than men, which can play to their strength in the risk management world. In a study by Wells Fargo, it was found that female participants were more likely to identify, manage, and mitigate risks than their male counterparts.
However, women in risk management function still face certain challenges, particularly in male-dominated industries. These challenges may include gender bias, lack of mentorship opportunities, and unequal pay. Despite these challenges, women in risk management have persisted and continue to break these barriers every day.
In conclusion, the presence of women in risk management functions brings unique skills and perspectives, helping organizations achieve their objectives successfully. As more women take on leadership roles in this field, we can expect to see more innovation and better risk management strategies. It’s time for women to shatter glass ceilings in risk management and pave the way for future generations.
(Written by Ann De Wilde with ChatGPT).