Girls are going to Save the World!

Girls are going to Save the World!

Girls are going to Save the World!

Quicklinks for this Post:
SME Summit 2012
FEPS Trans-Atlantic Seminar
October Women’s Events
Women’s Forum 2012
Women 40% Update


What an amazing, exhilarating, excruciating and exciting month October 2012 has been.  In a word it’s been cathartic!  Of course, the highlight of the month was easily my last-ever event as part of the greenlight for girls organization. I know you all were not aware that our Brussels event on 13 October was the last I would organize, so this will come as a surprise.  But I did not want to lessen anyone’s experience of the day — least of all the girls’ — by sharing this news earlier.


In September I officially resigned from the board of directors of g4g.  It was a long and painful decision in the making, but I am very happy to have made it and to now be moving on to other exciting things.  Naturally, I am grateful to the organization for the beautiful experiences, cherished memories and uplifting moments that contributing to their work permitted me over the past three years. And, for them and for everyone, I promise to carry on realizing the vision of getting more girls and women into STEM, especially Technology, as this has long been a passion of mine that, happily, we all share.

Second only to our Brussels event was the fact that I got to do my very own TEDx speech this month on 6 October at TEDxVilnius!  The topic was — you guessed it — “girls are going to save the world!”

I absolutely loved every minute of the generosity and attention lavished upon me by the lovely organizers and participants in Vilnius (yes, I even got my makeup done — and am kinda flattered that it only took five minutes)!  And, more than that, it was simply awesome to get to share a completely new message that links two topics I am very passionate about:  Improving how girls and women are portrayed in entertainment and media, and getting more girls into STEM studies and careers. 🙂 Crossing fingers now that the speech itself made the TED grade, and that I’ll be able to share it with you all here very soon. Meantime, there’s something above to whet your appetites.

Vivian Reding Women's Forum 2012

Resistance against #women40 is bcs “old boy network doesn’t want to let women in” @vivianeredingeu @womens_forum #wf12…

— Every Woman Digital (@EUWomen) October 11, 2012

A truly pinnacle event this month was the Women’s Forum for the Economy and Society which took place in Deauville, France on 10-12 October.  This event was easily the finest gathering of women doing great things around the world that I have ever had the honor of participating in. From the Cartier Award night that showcased initiatives by amazing young women doing positive things in their communities on every continent, and candid high-level interviews on issues of imminent importance to all of us, to intimate panel sessions led by the likes of Cherie Blaire… Every moment was an eye-opening, mind-broadening experience with the brightest lights on the political and business horizon, worldwide.

Women's Forum 2012

On a personal note, I am thrilled to say that the people I met at the Women’s Forum are among the most beautiful, brilliant and generous I have ever had the privilege of encountering, and we are all already working on ways, together, to keep making the world a better place. 🙂  And although my story is only a very small one among those belonging to 1500 people from 130 countries who attended the 2012 Women’s Forum, I’m sure that the experiences across the board were very similar.

So congratulations for a great success all around to Véronique Morali and the entire organization behind the eighth edition of this global meeting of the Women’s Forum (I wish I could have been at the previous seven too)!  And I herewith pledge my support to help this undertaking and everything it stands for continue to grow in reach and impact in the coming years!

Among the other events to which I had the honor of contributing in the past weeks, the FEPS meeting on “female leadership in business and politics” provided an epic opportunity, in the four-year history of this trans-Atlantic dialogue, to reparter with some of the most respected thinkers and actors on women’s issues on either side of the pond.  Needless to say, I felt extremely humbled at the discussion table among the luminaries present, some of whom had literally just stepped off the plane from attending the second US presidential debate.  But being women with a shared vision and commitment which includes getting Hillary into the White House in 2016, I thoroughly look forward to “womaning-up” with these amazing people and continuing this immensely important dialogue.

The first weeks of October also celebrated the annual PES Women Conference, the 21st anniversary of Professional Women International, a follow-up to the TWIST project promoting women and science in Europe, a seminar on women entrepreneurship in the EU and Turkey, and launch of the mentoring program of the International Young Women’s Partnership — all of which I had immense joy in participating in given the contribution these organizations make to improving the situation of women in Europe and beyond.  They deserve our most earnest encouragement to continue their important and beneficial work, and I am honored to contribute to their respective missions even in the smallest way.

SME12 Finance Panel

Because organizers of the European SME Week Summit 2012 had the timely insight to focus on “Women’s Entrepreneurship” this year, I eagerly accepted an invitation to this gathering on 17 October.  Besides benefiting from another fabulous finance panel including Brigitte Baumann, I also learned that the European Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan, coming out in November, will have specific objectives for women entrepreneurs in Europe.  Among other things, this is great news for our initiative.

For the record, my two biggest questions for the SME summit were related precisely to the topic of finance and economic growth, and to another problem — that of the abysmally low male representation at these women-focused conferences — latter which the inimitable Madi Sharma responded to with her characteristic pragmatism:  We agreed that our next initiative on “the economy” be a 50-50 conference where male attendees are challenged to participate in numbers equal to women.  I suggest aiming for 40-60 representation as a start, to see if we can manage to get that.  😉

In big, related news, 21 October saw the first rebuff of Viviane Reding’s draft directive to get 40% women on the boards of Europe’s companies.  In the face of this setback, I am proud to say that we have nonetheless already gathered over 1000 signatures on our petition supporting Ms. Reding’s proposal.  With these up-and-down outcomes in a month also witnessing the shooting of a 15-year-old girl for wanting an education and the first-ever International Day of the Girl, as claimed, the whole period has been quite cathartic.

Since “purging,” “purifying” and “clarifying” are all synonyms of the word cathartic, it is a rather appropriate way to describe the momentous events of the recent weeks, at least for me personally.  At the same time, the one clear theme across these events happening in the world — only some of which I personally had the opportunity to partake in — is that a powerful, positive and far-reaching change in the situation of women and our role in society is underway everywhere, in every way and on a great scale, today.  This fact reinforces the realization that started this whole catharsis for me.  It is one I first felt two years ago, first articulated one year ago, and, further emboldened by these recent events, that I will continue to repeat as my mantra going forward:

Girls are going to save the world.

As evidenced here, they already are.  And it’s time for the rest of us to roll up our sleeves and help, or get out of the way!  😉

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