It is 25 years since 189 countries adopted the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, a set of commitments to promote women's equality, at the historic UN conference in Beijing. Today, on International Women's Day, I had the pleasure of hosting three inspiring women for a panel discussion on Beijing plus 25. Where did we expect to be 25 years on, and where are we now.
Opened with a message of support from our Board Chair and DEI ally, Madan Menon, three inspiring women from our community joined me for the discussion:
- Her Excellency, Margriet Vonno, Ambassador of the Netherlands to Singapore and Brunei, who, as a young diplomat, prepared her country's delegation for the Beijing conference, and now as an Ambassador is strongly promoting equity and women's rights.
- Caroline McLaughlin, Chief Partnerships Officer at the Asian Venture Philanthropy Network (AVPN) and a UWCSEA Governor, who spoke about the importance of different perspectives and gender diversity on boards and in the College.
- Dr Ayesha Khanna, Co-Founder and CEO of ADDO AI , who spoke on how we can 'build back better' and the role of technology in promoting a more inclusive engagement for women and girls, post-COVID-19
In a wide ranging discussion on women’s equality, the panellists tackled questions posed by UWCSEA students, staff and parents, highlighting some of their own observations to provide wisdom to the next generation. Watch the full webinar here:
Women’s full and effective participation and leadership in all areas of life drives progress for everyone. Yet, women are still underrepresented in public life and decision-making: at the current rate of progress, gender equality among Heads of Government will take another 130 years.
When women lead, we see positive results. Some of the most efficient and exemplary responses to the COVID-19 pandemic were led by women.
This IWD is also a rallying cry for Generation Equality, to push for transformative and lasting change for generations to come.
So many developments over the last year show that we all need to be alert to how we address global challenges, including inequity, in all its forms. So, as the panellists concluded, let's be bold, be strong–and challenge!