June 18th, 2019. UNESCO. Paris, France.
A day of advocacy with Marie Claire Magazine and the ‘Connecting Leaders’ Think Tank to achieve equality at all levels and in all social, political and economical spheres.
🇺🇳 The call for equality: a vital human right.
On June 18th, as a former intern of the UNESCO, it was nostalgic to return to the prestigious U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural establishment, but moreso an honor to answer this civic call to action.
Over 2500 women and men responded to Marie Claire magazine and Connecting Leaders’ “CALL FOR EQUALITY/L’APPEL POUR L’ÉGALITÉ”, held at the prestigious United Nations agency.
An eminent host of members of the government, business leaders, journalists, tech experts and entrepreneurs joined the conversation on how to champion equality in today’s society.
The Think Tank which was composed of political and economics insiders, delivered its proposal to the leaders under the high patronage of the UNESCO. These formal propositions were the fruit of detailed research aiming to implement pragmatic measures to bring about real change and were then signed by the aforementioned political, business, science and media leaders.
It was an all day event- of brilliant exchanges, fiery debates, inspiring testimonies, an eye-opening documentary and more.
The scientific committee of the Think Tank presented their livre blanc to business leaders, politicians, entrepreneurs, tech experts, media figures, faculty members and deans who were present to not only enshrine the measures into a solid proposal but to sign and commit to them.
The proposal contained a list of policies, divided in different sections, to minimize the gender gap and correct the many injustices that women face.
During this phenomenal civic day, the goal was to improve the working conditions, upgrade the quality of life and change the way women are viewed in our society.
The program of the day, scheduled from 8:30pm to 5:30pm, was divided into the following 6 parts: Equality for women in Business, Culture, Education, Health, Tech and the Global scale.
And that’s a vision I can advocate for.
As I listened to the myriad of statements from the different panelists and speakers, a few keywords were highlighted throughout the day.
Here are my top 3:
The need for visible representation
Indeed, girls need to see other women in positions of influence at the head of companies having agency over their bodies voices and opinions having financial freedom and taking their career to new heights.
The editor-in-chief of Marie Claire Czech Republic told a story of students when asked who they’d like to be when they grow up and a young girl saying that she would like to be president like the current president of Slovakia, Mrs Zuzana Čaputová. The teacher then asked a young boy would he like to be president as well, to which he immediately responded, “oh no that’s a woman’s job”! A candid yet powerful example of how positive role models help to concretely change the narrative.
“Invisible No More”:
The importance of visibility in the workforce, in the media, in technology and other male-dominated sectors.
The need to intentionally to make space for strong, independent and brilliant women. Concretely overcoming the mansplaining of topics that touch disenfranchised groups, which are mostly women and people of color, with authentic voices and transparent powerful opinions.
The creation of safe spaces and environments that value the female perspective and their experiences, allowing them to be seen and heard in a positive light. The breaking down of stereotypes and obsolete representations to build images that reflect a balanced and multifaceted view of womanhood.
Mentorship was established as an essential key to bringing about equality.
It is known as the guidance provided by a mentor especially an experienced person in a professional position company or educational institution.
During the different interventions, those role models, who were invisible no more were encouraged to reach back and help other women climb the ladder to success.
It was even underlined how mentoring women increases confidence in women mentees and builds awareness of the conditions and specific challenges that women face. When men mentor women they are often made aware of particular issues that they usually ignore or have been desensitized about. It opens up the communication lines and creates avenues for healthy dialogue and growth.
Furthermore, the crucial need of a transfer of knowledge and having access to sound counsel couldn’t have been stressed more.
As the statistics were revealed, most organizations lack well-defined strategies for developing their women workforce into leadership roles and mentoring was outlined as a critical tool to remedy this issue.
One of the most poignant interventions of the day was the during the International segment of the program.
The Editor-in-Chief of the Marie Claire U.S., Mrs. Anne Fulenwider, shared her thoughts about the state of America as a letter to her daughter. Her statement was symbolic that as women, our vulnerability is really our strength.
The juxtaposition of her a leadership role, advocating for equality and protective maternal instincts, wanting a better world for her child, gave a deeper perspective to why we were all present.
It’s about purpose. It’s about real lives. It’s about changing the narrative for future generations.
It’s more than just statistics and numbers. Women are really suffering from gender bias- even in First World countries.
So it’s time to raise our voices. Be #InvisibleNoMore. And change the status quo.
Although Mrs. Fulenwider’s emotion-filled letter was primarily meant for her young daughter celebrating her birthday here in Paris, it undoubtedly touched everyone present in the room.
It made me think about the legacy I would like to leave as a woman, and realize that the traits which make me different are my strength.
So thank you for being a lovely example of building a foundation of change, of speaking out against injustice and for being an attentive, transparent and authentic agent of change for women’s rights.
At the closing ceremony, the public was invited on stage and I was humbled by the opportunity to share my views on the importance of intersectional feminism in bringing about pragmatic gender and racial equality through policy changes.
Representation truly matters in the fight for equality and as a woman of color, it was truly inspiring to see women from all walks of life share their inspiring stories and uplifting insights.
We live in a world where things are evolving at a rapid pace and we all have a responsibility to promote concrete and positive change- starting with ourselves. Whether man or woman- true Equality starts at the individual level, because we’re all #One. Women Rights are indeed Human Rights.
A special thank you to Marie Claire Magazine, the ‘Connecting Leaders’ club and the UNESCO for organizing such an excellent event. I definitely look forward to the next one!
Thank you for reading and look forward to sharing more on the topic of women’s rights and Equality.
What about you? What are your views on equality in your part of the world? How will you be an agent of change? What ideas do you have? Share your thoughts on the topic below!
Thanks so much for stopping by!