In My Own Words: Women In The World Summit 2016
April 14 – New York, NY
I have never felt more pride in being a woman than I did this past week, having attended the Women in The World Summit (WITW). From April 6-8, WITW, in its seventh year, convened women from all walks of life “in the headlines and on the front lines”, who utilized the platform of a progressive conference to discuss what it means to be a woman in 2016.
What captivated me the most was this: There truly is no aspect of life where women do not play a crucial role, or have a significant voice, that goes overlooked or unheard. Among stories of oppression and inequality, there were moments of sheer joy in being connected by a global bond of sisterhood with women who have overcome discrimination, prejudice, intolerance, and revocation of basic, human freedoms. And, that is what WITW demonstrated most; that as women, we are all perseverance personified.
Apart from the more devastating topics, I was pleased to have been offered the perspectives of successful women in business – a boon for BritishAmerican Business’s work and initiatives surrounding the many types of diversity and inclusion, and what they mean for a modern world. I was especially intrigued by the topics explored by PepsiCo’s Chairwoman & CEO, Indra Nooyi, and New America Foundation’s CEO, and author of Unfinished Business: Women, Men, Work, Family, Ann-Marie Slaughter who agree that the landscape of work-life balance for women executives oftentimes presents difficult decisions between the progression of a career, and personal responsibility, specifically as mothers and wives.
Similarly, I was eager to learn from Christine Lagarde, Managing Director, International Monetary Fund, who professed the unfortunate necessity of “thick skin” for women in business. She went on to maintain that the global marketplace is, “missing half the skills, the talent, the views, [and] the humanity that we so badly [need] at the moment,” as she commented on a photo showing her almost-exclusivelty male Board of Directors. Additionally, what I found particularly interesting was her view on the EU Referendum – a perspective of “riskiness” consisting heavily of apprehension and uncertainty in a changing regime. More to the point, she drove home the need of an interconnected world, one “completely without borders” of both the geo-political, and gender kind.
This past Tuesday marked what the United States called “Equal Pay Day”, symbolizing how far into the year a woman works to earn as much as a man did the previous year, and I couldn’t help but feel that the timing for WITW couldn’t be more poignant. As a country, we struggle with the gender disparity on a daily basis; On a global scale, the notion of equality, within seemingly infinite venues, is still a human issue at its core, that is doomed to be repeated without the proper voices heard. To have taken an active role within WITW has been an honor, and allows me to continue the conversation of gender equality as a human issue first, and business issue second – one that, evidently, deserves attention.