FIRST INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE TO FOCUS ON WOMEN’S ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT LAUNCHES IN SCOTLAND

Scotland’s first Women’s Economic Empowerment Conference kicked off this morning in Edinburgh , hosted by Women’s Enterprise Scotland (WES) in collaboration with US based Women’s Economic Imperative (WEI).

Attracting over 100 thought leaders and change makers from across the globe, the conference focuses on opportunities and challenges for Equity, Inclusive Growth, and Sustainability. It seeks to instigate action and identify tangible next steps for transformative change, drawing on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the work of the United Nations Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment, and the outcomes of the T-20 Task Force on Gender Economic Equity.

Gathering together international speakers and thought leaders representing civil society, the private sector, public sector, and academia, participants will hear from women who are breaking every barrier as they progress careers in sectors such as technology, aviation and finance. Speakers include technology evangelist Professor Sue Black; Captain Irene Koki Mutungi, Kenyan Airways Captain and first female African Dreamliner pilot and the Hon. Luis Guillermo Solis Rivera, Former President of Costa Rica and Co-Chair of the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment.

Technology evangelist Professor Sue Black, who is working with CodeClan – Scotland’s first and only award-winning and industry-led digital skills academy – commented; “Technology has the power to transform and empower women’s lives, which is why we launched the ground-breaking TechMums programme. I am thrilled to be speaking at Scotland’s first Women’s Economic Empowerment Conference about the ways in which we need to harness technology to unlock women’s economic potential.”

Carolyn Currie, Chief Executive, Women’s Enterprise Scotland said; “We are delighted to be hosting this prestigious inaugural event here in Scotland, underscoring our reputation as global leaders in women’s economic empowerment and entrepreneurship. We must ensure that gender equality thinking is placed centre stage in all future economic policy making and economic development if we want to deliver true, transformational change here in the UK and internationally.”

Dr Margo Thomas, Founder and President of Women’s Economic Imperative explained; “The timing of this conference is right. We know the key issues and drivers of women’s economic empowerment. We now need to craft solutions, define specific actions, and secure the commitment of our participants, partners and networks to act. I am delighted that we are working with WES to deliver this conference, bringing together thought leaders and partners representing civil society, the private sector, public sector, and academia. With our WEI Board, specialists and wider team, we are leveraging our networks and expertise to share knowledge and engage participants in active dialog and problem-solving to advance the women’s economic empowerment agenda for the benefit of all.”

WEI was established in 2018 in response to the call to action of the United Nations High-Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment. Since its launch, WEI has embarked on several initiatives focussing on innovation, enterprise and trade, spearheading action to create and grow sustainable economic opportunities for women.

Conference delegates will examine gender at the intersection of politics, economics, geography, and resilience and provide thought leadership on changing perceptions and norms around women’s roles in the society and economy. This will leverage women’s entrepreneurship as an engine of economic growth, social equity and sustainable development and improve conditions for women and girls everywhere. They will also discuss ways in which to mobilise partnerships and coalitions across civil society, private sector, government and academia to advance women’s economic empowerment for the benefit of everyone to achieve concrete economic and social outcomes and impact.

Women’s equality and empowerment is one of the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals and is key to all aspects of inclusive and sustainable development. The G20, leaders of the most powerful 20 countries in the world, made this commitment at their summit in Osaka in June 2019; “Gender equality and women’s empowerment are essential for achieving sustainable and inclusive economic growth. We reconfirm their importance in all aspects of our policies and as a cross-cutting issue at upcoming Summits.” However, according to the SDG Index research, no country is currently on track to achieve all SDG’s by 2030[1].

The platinum sponsors of the conference are The Royal Bank of Scotland, Standard Life Aberdeen and Mastercard. Additional sponsors include AllAfrica, the University of Glasgow Adam Smith Business School, Newcastle University Business School, Durham University Business School, Portsmouth University and Business Gateway Edinburgh, among others.

[1] Berteslmann Stiftung and Sustainable Development Solutions Network (2018) viii

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