BNY Mellon Opened America’s First Bank By And For Women in 1921

(3BL Media/Justmeans) –Around the world today there are approximately 98 million girls who are not in school. While, again globally, one in three women will experience gender-based violence in her lifetime and in the developing world, one in seven girls are married before their 15th birthday, with some child brides as young as eight or nine. Every year more than 287,000 women, with 99% of them living in developing countries, die from pregnancy and childbirth-related complications. And the statistics go on…women make up more than 40% of the agriculture labour force, yet only 3 to 20% are landholders. In Africa, women-owned enterprises make up as little as 10% of all businesses and in South Asia, that number is only 3%. Crucially, in spite of representing half the global population, women comprise less than 20% of the world's legislators.

Investing in gender equality and women’s empowerment can unlock human potential on a transformational scale. BNY Mellon was one of the first financial institutions in the States to do business with women, dating back to the 1870s when it started to encourage women to take control of their finances.

Embracing change began when Alexander Hamilton founded The Bank of New York, which would later become BNY Mellon, in 1784. He had a vision to create a national financial system that would lay the foundation for a modern economy.

However, prior to the women's liberation movement in the States, women did not have the right to vote, own property or even manage their own bank accounts. In 1921, the first significant victory of the movement culminated in the passing of the 19th Amendment to the American Constitution, which granted women the right to vote. Shortly following this historical achievement, BNY Mellon’s heritage bank in San Francisco, Bank of Italy, opened the country's first bank by and for women - the Women's Banking Department. For the first time in America, women had access to their own accounts where they could manage their finances without the involvement of their spouses.

Since Alexander Hamilton invested in America more than 230 years ago, countries have been created, borders have been erased and new markets have emerged. Now, striving for gender equality within and outside its four walls is key to BNY Mellon’s success. It’s an economic driver that can enhance company performance and generate significant market returns. It recognises that women account for one-half of the potential human capital in any economy and that more than half a billion women have joined the world’s work force over the past 30 years.

BNY Mellon’s view is shared by the World Bank, who also believes countries with greater gender equality are more prosperous and competitive. An extra year of secondary school for girls can increase their future earnings by 10-20%. When women participate in civil society and politics, governments are more open, democratic and responsive to citizens. When women are at the negotiating table, peace agreements are more inclusive and durable…

Photo Credit: BNY Mellon