“Rise up, Reach out and own the opportunity” was the much encored mantra and motive of 7th International Women Leaders Summit held on 7th February in Karachi, Pakistan. New World Concepts has been dabbling with projects involving Women In Business since 2012. This Summit was another link added to the chain of successful events organized in the above-mentioned front.
A platform for dynamic leaders, entrepreneurs, opinion makers from across the world to come n share their success stories and inspire many others in their lead.7th IWLS had the privilege of hosting 14 International speakers. The names of Dr.Gülden Türktan, Anabel Gonzalez, Neil Buhne, Daniela Simonetta Sfameni, Squadron Leader Saira Amin, Dr.Adnan Ali Hyder and Dr.Eleni Rossides were most distinguished among others.
The Summit started off by a welcome speech delivered by Ma'am Yasmin Hyder, Chief Executive New World Concepts’ since 15 years. She talked about sustainable and meaningful women leadership by making gender inclusiveness a powerful priority. Since women supposedly control 20 trillion Dollars worth world economy. She also put some light on WE-Net (Pakistan Women Entrepreneurs-Network for easy trade), a Pak-China project launch soon to occur.
Next came Dr.Gülden Türktan, Founder President of W20; the G20 outreach group focused on promoting gender equality globally. At present, the G20 countries have 86% job employment ratio for men and 25% ratio for women. Dr.Türktan shared her target at W20 to decrease the workload to 25/25 i.e. a difference of 25 percent by 2025.She believe that women are of a saving mind, i.e. they know how to turn earnings into savings. She also quoted some of the W20 recommendations as to connect women on national and international level, say no to gender discrimination, minimize violence, involve women in decision making and Global Value Change to name a few. The audience beheld a video address by Anabel Gonzalez, Senior Director Trade &competitiveness-World Bank then. Anabel professed that over a 100 countries worldwide display gender based job discrimination. In Pakistan alone, men earn 71% more than women.
She stressed upon the need for establishing open and reliable ecosystems, secure transportation and creating capacity building programs for women. She advised women to collaborate, be a mentor, own up to the great sense of fulfillment and responsibility by overcoming adversity and making hard choices between personal and professional life.
A dialogue on ‘Women+Health: Handling stress & Emotions' between Dr.Adnan Ali Hyder and Surg. Cmdr.Nuzhat Mushahid followed shortly afterwards. Whereby, Dr.Adnan extracted adequate childcare and workplace environment to be the major stress inducing factors for working women. Commander Nuzhat shared the psychology behind stress by divulging the fact that “We; women want to be perfect mothers, daughters, wives and professionals. In this quest for perfection, we stretch ourselves too far which often tend to break us.”She also relented that stress can be relieved by both external and internal forces. But some structural inequalities are inherent in our society hence conscious efforts should be taken to curb them and relieve stress consequently.
‘Valuing Female Talent: Opportunities and Challenges' session showcased Daniela Simonetta Sfameni; Managing Director HR UBS Switzerland. She highlighted the Global Women March that occurred on 21 January in over 81 countries and consolidated over 4.8 million men and women, with a single bold message: women rights are human rights. She discoursed about women in corporate world-the demographic change. “The world is aging; young people are outnumbering old ones. There has been a talent shortage in G7 countries since 2010.Still, qualified women are the most un-utilized resource in the workforce.”
Today’s gender reality in statistics shows that almost 4 in ten businesses in G7 countries have no women in senior management positions. Globally, women represented 51% of those enrolled in tertiary education in 102 of 166 countries. In 1990, the average participation of women in tertiary education was recorded to be 26% in East Asia and Pacific Region but they too disappear later. Get married, stay at home etc. Daniela believes that gender diversity increase performance. She shattered some myths and proposed a work structure relating Flexible working arrangements for women which entails;
Daniela stated that “women’ aspiration to the top increased by nearly 30% when they have access to Flexible Working Arrangement System”. Hence, “Let’s stop fixing women and start fixing culture and environment”.
A panel discussion on the topic of ‘Promoting gender inclusiveness in the Corporate World’ was moderated by Ayesha Tammy Haq. Panelist Speakers included Reem Badran, Jawad Cheema and Noman Ansari.Important questions like how are women members good for business?How women can play a major role in boardroom? And how to make men comfortable with women in boardrooms were tackled efficiently.
Neil Buhne (UN Resident Coordinator Pakistan) shared his experience with women across diverse cultures; covering different regions including Pakistan. Mr. Buhne said, “Home based female workers make the loins share of work sector in Pakistan; 8 million women from Punjab alone at that”. He also mentioned the upcoming UN projects like ‘Women Lawyers Association’ and ‘Women in Wheels’ set to empower Pakistani women.
Wonder women; well accomplished and strong willed women from all three armed forces of Pakistan were present in the Summit as well. Col. Gulnaz Ahmed (with 32 years experience in Pak Army)shared the heart moving stories of sisters in arms, widows of military martyrs and devastated mothers of APS attack. Pakistani army currently comprises of 12,750 female officers, a remarkable number. Colonel Gulnaz talked about the brass ceiling effect. She believes in “being stubborn about your goals and being flexible about your methods”. Since, “self trust is the essence of heroism.”
Squadron Leader Saira Amin; first Pakistani Jet Pilot and first Asian women to be awarded with Sword of Honor also shared her inspirational life battle to reach this milestone and the obstacles she faced.
But as 53 years old Dr. Eleni Rossides (leading psychologist and board member-Special Olympics Cyprus) quoted in her address on Championing a cause: Giving Back to Society; “I choose to seek the stepping stones rather than the obstacles”. She brought on stage some talented athletes from Special Olympics Pakistan to share their achievements. They received a standing ovation. Dr. Eleni believes that leadership can be in any form and reorganization keeps these kids motivated to play their part in the society.
Women In C-suite; Dr. Shahida Makhdum (Managing Director Pharmatech), Fauzia Kehar (Director & Cluster Lead Head Citi Bank NA, UAE) and Huma Fakhar (Director MAP Services) partook in a panel with Mr. Suleman Khan on gaining the way forward. Some valuable advices like following your passion and conviction, growing thick skin and blocking all the external noise around you were given. As a leader, if you are inclusive at the communication front; you have it going good for you. You keep reinventing yourself.
Another comprehensive panel was set by Dr. Mahnaz Shah with High Commissioner Australia; Margaret Adamson in equal seating with Ambassadors of Nepal and Netherland; Sewa Lamsai Adhikari and Jeanette Seppen. Comparative views on their work experience in Pakistan were exchanged and debated upon.
CEO Alfalah GHP Investment Management; Maheen Rehman stated that the world’s top five populated countries contribute around 45% to the global GDP. But Pakistan being the 6th most populated country only imparts a total of 0.35%. And the question was as to why? Ma’am Maheen’s session on “Investing Your Earnings for Higher Returns” was a real eyeopener. Women comprises of half the Pakistani population hence their role in economy is clamorous. “Your country can’t progress until half of you are held back”, she said.
Factors like false perception, fear factor and access to financial products are some of the leading factors that hinder women to approach investment professionals in banks. But if given the opportunity and much needed awareness for opening up investment accounts, women can enjoy a sense of security and financial freedom.
Ma’am Daniela engaged the audience in a witty exercise of meridian pressure points for relieving all sorts of negative emotions.
The Summit was wrapped up by round-table mentorship sessions on health and well-being, fueling self-development, importance of networking and managing your earnings into savings.
Qurat Ul Ain Narejo