Chi Nguyen recaps the highlights from Day 2 of the Gender Alliance Summit
Day 2: A Summary
With more than 200 people from over 50 countries signed up to take part over the three days, this inaugural Gender Alliance Summit marks the first efforts to shape how this community can work together to achieve gender equality. With support from the Bosch Alumni Network Online Activities grant and the BMW Herbert Quandt Foundation, this summit is being led by volunteer members from across these networks.
Women, Peace and Security
Hosted by Collette Mazzucelli and NS Nappinai
The summit’s second day opened up an important discussion about security. This is an issue that has significant gender impacts, and in the age of the pandemic, these have become even more devastating. Co-host NS Nappinal opened the session helping to define the term security, noting that security really extends to freedom: freedom of speech, fear and the ability of women to strengthen their own privilege in society.
The session’s keynote, Penny Abeywardena, the New York Commissioner for International Affairs. Ms. Abeywardena spoke about how her city’s government acted quickly, responsibly to tackle the pandemic. She noted the significant role of women’s leadership under the current mayor (Bill de Blasio’s government). Additionally, Abeywardena noted that in her role, as she works with and adjacent to a significant diplomatic portfolio, the important role that drawing from existing global best practices is critical to inform any innovation agenda. She remarked that what was useful and of particular importance and value were tested best practices — in a time of real crisis, it is important to be able to have access to great ideas, projects and initiatives that have been tested before.
Prompted by Ms Abeywardena’s remarks, summit participants then moved into breakouts. The focus of these discussions were to help surface current projects already underway or ready for a new phase and stage in their work. In the report backs from the session, it was clear that many saw significant opportunities to collaborate to respond and address issues of security. These could include best-practice mapping, data gathering, or new tools to help track and better understand the depths of this challenge.
Investing in Women-led Business
Hosted by Sylvia Mukasa, Rania Reda, Gaurav Mehta
In the final thematic session of the day, three hosts helped us to explore many dimensions of women’s entrepreneurship. With three remarkable co-hosts, Sylvia, Rania and Gaurav each brought their own expertise. A key challenge identified in the opening of the session were the explicit and implicit ways that women lacked access to infrastructure such as capital and funding. Other challenges included the everyday sexism that women experienced as they worked to grow their business: such as being mistaken as the colleague and not the boss at pitche.
In these breakouts, summit participants explored some of the significant challenges being faced as women entrepreneurs. This include having less access to knowledge about potential funding opportunities, resources; access to peers or mentors to help them be supported to sustain and grow their opportunities; explicit and implicit sexism that meant that they were often having to prove their worth/value; the lack of role models in business; and legislative or policy barriers in their own countries that made growth a challenge. This session concluded with several ideas such as the creation of a women’s fund, coaching circles to support entrepreneurs, as well as addressing the sexism women experience in the business world.
Ms. Chi Nguyen
Chi has spent the past twenty years in the social change sector, and consults and advises on how these movements can build stronger bridges to disrupt systems of harm. She has also worked for some incredible do-gooding organizations including Social Innovation Canada, White Ribbon Canada, United Way Toronto, CBC and MASS LBP. She is a member of the BMW Responsible Leaders network, and the Global Diplomacy Lab. Her work has been recognised for improving the lives of women and girls throughout Canada by the Governor General (2004) and the YWCA (1999). She holds an MSc in Social Psychology from the London School of Economics, and loves her most important job as mom to Sam and Ellis.