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Thought Leader: Mary Ellen Iskenderian

Mary Ellen Iskenderian is president and CEO of Women's World Banking, a network of microfinance institutions and banks.

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Mary Ellen Iskenderian on


  • WHAT’S DISTINCT distinct

    It does seem like the pace of technological change, the rate at which technology is coming into our lives and changing them and shaping them, has dramatically increased. The rate at which mobile telephony has expanded, particularly in the developing world seems to be distinct in the way technology is influencing our lives.

  • CHALLENGES challenges

    It is almost becoming cliché for us to be talking about 52 percent of the world's population is underutilized. The data is just pouring in at an untold rate about if you can close the economic equality gap between men and women, the benefits that redound in every other aspect of the society are so palpable. While I hesitate to say it's the largest ethical question that we are facing, that is, in part, because it does seem like one that is relatively simple to address.

  • GLOBAL ETHICS ethics

    I almost feel that as a privileged white American woman, I am really least able to comment on whether there is a global ethic. My instinct says that there probably is not, that I know too much about the way culture affects so much in people's lives to think that there would be a global ethic.

  • LEADERSHIP leadership

    I'm a huge believer in role models. I think that pretty much any woman who gets up and puts herself out there, whether she wants to be or not, is a role model, that every time she does that, there is some girl somewhere who is saying, "I never knew I could be a fireman, and look, there's a firelady on that truck."

  • FUTURE future

    I'd love to believe that the next 100 years would be a recognition that war and violence really are things that belong in the past, and that if we achieve a greater equality between sexes, between classes, and a greater opening of opportunity, then we might be able to get ourselves past the terrible destruction that we did see in this last 100 years.