2nd Athena40 Global Conversation on Women

The 2nd Athena40 Global Conversation:
‘Making the Case for Female Leadership’
A Call to Action engaging high-impact women
from 8 countries and 5 continents
marking International Women’s Day 2020
California | London | Athens | Beirut |Amman |Joburg| Istanbul |Karachi

An audience of 600 influencers across eight countries participated in a synchronised global conversation on March 2nd that had 68 speakers from around the world debating live just ahead of International Women’s Day, March 8th 2020.


Among the speakers were award-winning author, film director and LGBTQ rights activist Shamim Sharif, leading Economist and author of ‘Women vs. Capitalism’, Vicky Pryce, Rwanda’s High Commissioner, Yamina Karitanyi, BBC World presenter Tim Willcox, Athena40 Founder/Journalist Elizabeth Filippouli, MPs, Ambassadors and civil society leaders. They all connected live from London to other panels in Amman, Beirut, Istanbul, Karachi, Athens, Joburg and Irvine, California to get a sense of what challenges women need to overcome across different societies and cultures, but also to record calls to action.


“When you ‘double-click’ on the problem of gender inequality then you realise it is a longterm exercise. This not a challenge for women, it is a challenge for Humanity”, commented HE Yamina Karitanyi the High Commissioner of Rwanda a country that constitutionally mandates that at least 30 percent of government positions are occupied by women. Since
2003 Rwanda has consistently had the highest female representation, proportionally, of parliamentarians in the world—currently 61 percent in the lower house. Four of the nation’s
seven supreme court justices are women, including the deputy chief justice.


Elizabeth Filippouli, Founder & CEO of Athena40 said: “It is an absolute necessity to keep creating opportunities for women to access networks, recognition and mentorship. We also need to keep pushing the private and the public sectors to be more accountable towards women. This is the only way to create change”.

‘’Storytelling has that immense power to literally change lives. As storytellers we have a huge responsibility not to shy away from conflict, not to shy away from stories that are
unhappy or difficult to hear,” emphasised Shamim Sarif.

“We need to invest in our female youth’s dreams. Currently, education disempowers women despite higher number of women in upper education. Society needs to truly reflect its values in its behaviours.”, said Mary Nazzal Batayneh, Chairperson of 17 Ventures in Jordan.

“Cultural subjects such as being a ‘good mother’ forces women to choose between financial independency and family. We need more women role models to inspire change”, said Melike Aydin Chairwoman of the Young Guru Academy in Turkey.

“More women will be able to go back into work if we create safer, better equipped places for their children to go. Montessori raised this 100 years ago.said Leonor Stjepic, CEO of
the Montessori Group, whose Athena40 panel marked 150 years from the birth of the pioneering educator Maria Montessori.

Launched by the London-based non-profit Global Thinkers Forum, Athena40 is a platform connecting and recognising women from around the world. In 2018 at UNESCO in Paris it
launched the first ever global list of some of the world’s most forward-thinking women nominated by the public and voted by a panel of 58 independent, international judges.
Athena40 has been created as a platform to democratise recognition for women and bring to the spotlight grassroots women and women making an impact. The first list is released in
March 2020. https://www.athena40forum.com/the-2020-athena40-list

For detailed findings across panels please contact us and for more information and speakers for the April Forum in London, please visit athena40forum.com

About Global Thinkers Forum and Athena40:

Global Thinkers Forum (GTF) was launched in 2012 with the core aims of nurturing Accountable Leadership, Women’s Empowerment and Youth Development. The founding
Patron is Her Majesty Queen Rania of Jordan. GTF is a London-based non profit organisation and among our core programmes supporting the UN Global Goals is the Athena and
Telemachus mentoring programme – which connects women and young professionals respectively with thought-leaders and change-makers from around the world for one-on-one
mentoring and support, lasting 8 months.

Panellists March 2, 2020

Chaired by BBC World News’ Tim Willcox, the Global Conversation featured the following panellists:


London: Tim Willcox, Broadcaster, BBC World; Elizabeth Filippouli, Founder, Global Thinkers Forum & Athena40; Vicky Booth, CEO, Inspiring Girls International; Paola Diana, Author, Activist & Entrepreneur; HE Yamina Karitanyi, High Commissioner of Rwanda; Vicky Pryce, Chief Economic Adviser, Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR); Shamim Sarif, Writer & Film Director; Introduction by Doug Wills, Managing Editor, Evening Standard.

California: Catherine Bolzendahl, Associate Professor of Sociology, University of California, Irvine; Dr Stephanie McClellan, Chief Medical Officer, TIA Women's Health Physician, Hoag Hospital; Susan B. Parks, President & CEO, Orange County United Way; Kerry Phelan, President, Global Franchise Management, Lionsgate Entertainment; Song Richardson, Dean & Chancellor’s Professor of Law, University of California; Loretta Sanchez, Former Member, U.S. House of Representatives

London - Montessori: Leonor Stjepic, CEO, Montessori Group; Hannah Baynham, Academic Lecturer, Montessori; Barbara Isaacs, Montessori Global Ambassador; Lesley King-Lewis, CEO, Windsor Leadership; Karina Robinson, CEO, Robinson Hambro Ltd

Athens: Michael Economakis, Executive Vice Chairman & CEO, A. G. Leventis Group (Nig) Plc, Advisory Board Member, Global Thinkers Forum, Founding Partner, Athena40; Dr Dimitra Antonopoulou, Scientific Collaborator, CRWI DIOTIMA; Danae Bezantakou, CEO, Navigator Shipping Consultants; Areti Georgili, Regional Leader, Lean in Hellas; Eleni Glinou, Visual Artist, Researcher, Educator - Former Full-time Professor, The Graphic Design Department; Maria Kaltsogianni, Msc Mechanical Engineer - Head at Career, Liaison & Innovation Office, University of West Attica; Stella Kasdagli, Co-Founder, Women On Top (WoT); Elpida Kokkota, Founder & CEO, MEXOXO; Marica Labrou, BoD Member - Entersoft, Vice President - ACEO (Association of CEOs), Member of WiB (Women in Business) Committee of Hellenic American Chamber; Photini Papatheodorou, Educator, Coach & Intercultural Communication Advisor, Founder, Wisdom in Action International Consultants; Dr Anastasia Psomiadi, Founder & President, APSON CSR; Anastasia Sideri, Communications Director, Central and Eastern Europe, The Coca Cola Company & Chair Women in Business Committee, Hellenic American Chamber; Barbara Terzaki-Pallikari, Founding Member, University of the Mountains (UoM), Inspirator & Coordinator, “Mission Penelope Gandhi”; Dr Fiori Zafeiropoulou, Country Coordinator Fashion Revolution & Founder, SOFFA-Social Fashion Factory

Amman: Deema Bibi, CEO, INJAZ; Mary Nazzal-Batayneh; Chairperson, 17 Ventures and Board Member INJAZ; Lina Abojaradeh, Founder, Archismile; HE Hala Bsaisu Lattouf, Former Minister, Ministry of Social Development Jordan; Wafa Bani Mustafa, Member of Parliament, The Jordanian House of Representatives; Senator Haifa Hajjar Najjar, Senator, Upper House of the Jordanian Parliament (Jordanian Senate) & Superintendent, Ahliyyah School for Girls & Bishop's School for Boys Amman; Nadia Al Saeed, Chief Executive Officer, Bank al Etihad

Beirut: Roula A. Douglas, Journalist & Author; Joelle Abou Farhat, Co-Founder & President, Fiftyfifty NGO, Lebanon; Rana Ghandour Salhab, Talent & Communications Partner, Deloitte; Rola Hoteit, Airline Captain, Middle East Airlines; Hayat Mirshad, Co-Founder & Co-Director, FE-MALE; Dr Elise Salem, Vice President for Student Development & Enrollment Management, Lebanese American University (LAU); Myriam Sfeir, Director, The Arab Institute for Women (AiW)

Joburg: Criselda Kananda, Businesswoman, Inspirational Speaker & Broadcaster; Yolanda Mabuto, Founder & CEO, Divaine Growth Solutions; Elizabeth Marabwa, Chief Director, Department of Energy; Rooksana Modan, Director, Apex Development; Slauzy Zodwa Mogami, Chairperson, Leading Ladies of Africa; Johnny Muteba, Founder, Pan African Chamber of Commerce; Evan Schiff, Event Director, Africa for the Clarion Events Africa Company; Anni Wilhelmi, Founder, CrossRoads Company & Head, Women Presidents Organisation South Africa

Istanbul: Tim Bright, Partner, One World Consulting and Advisory Board Member, British Chamber of Commerce in Turkey; Chris Gaunt, Chairman, British Chamber of Commerce
Turkey and Advisory Board Member, Global Thinkers Forum; Melike Aydin, Chairwoman, YGA; Zeynep Dereli, Founder & CEO, Technology and Human Colleges; Zeynep Dereli, Founder & CEO, Technology and Human Colleges; Melek Pulatkonak, Founder, Turkish Women’s International Network; Judith Slater, HMTC, Eastern Europe & Central Asia

Karachi: HE Ambassador Attiya Mahmood, Former diplomat & Ambassador of Pakistan; Dr Huma Baqai, Associate Professor & Former Chairperson, Social Sciences Department, IBA; Anis Haroon, Chairman, National Commission on the Status of Women; Maheen Rahman, CEO, Alfalah GHP Investment Management Ltd; Dr Nafisa Shah, National Assembly Speaker; Shahnaz Wazir Ali, President, SZABIST University; Maliha Zia Lari, Associate Director, Legal Aid Society & Manager Law & Gender, Aurat Foundation