Athena40 Global Conversation on Women

The Global Conversation: “The Way to the Top”

International Women’s Day 2019

For the first time in history Athena40 connects fearless, innovative and diverse women across 4 continents

in 6 country conversations

New York | London | Athens | Amman | Istanbul |Lahore

An audience of 500 influencers across six countries and four continents participated in a synchronised global conversation March 6ththat had 45 speakers debating live just ahead of International Women’s’ Day, March 8th.

The conversation in London was hosted by the Evening Standard and saw BBC World’s Tim Willcox as global moderator, connecting live to the 5 other panels to get a sense of what progress has been made regarding women’s empowerment, where the major challenges and opportunities for women lie, who are the real change makers globally, and what can be done to promote diversity and inclusivity – collaboratively and internationally.

“As a CEO, I never felt I had reached the top… I just got on with the job. I could just do more, make changes. Trust yourself, use your intuition because your intuition will serve you well”, commented Bridget McIntyre, one of the youngest female CEOs at a FTSE100 firm.

Doing stand-up is scary… when they announce me, I have an out-of-body experience… and then you just have to do it, and it’s fine! Don’t let ‘the best’ be the enemy of ‘the good”, said Ayesha Hazarika, writer, broadcaster and stand-up comedian.

Elizabeth Filippouli, Founder & CEO of Athena40 said: “They say that it has never been a better time to be a woman. I agree…but then that is not the case for every woman, this is why we started the Athena40 movement to understand and engage women across all cultures, into empowering conversations”.

“If you’re not failing, you’re playing it too safe. To overcome failure. you probably learn more than when you’re successful”, said Annabel Karmel MBE, UK’s No 1 author of children’s recipes.

Doug Wills, Managing Editor of the Evening Standard opened the London event talking about the importance of having such conversations about gender equality. Among the audience worldwide was HRH Princess Eugenie of York; British artist and songwriter Ellie Goulding; The Rt. Hon. Lord John Alderdice; Sangita Kanoria, Founder of Advinia Health Care; Geraldine Sharpe Newton, GTF Advisory Board Member and Athena40 Founder Member; Dr. Fawaz Zubi, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Silicon Badia; Ciara Hurley-Stewart, Head of Retail Marketing and Partnerships, Asprey; Shada El Sharif, Director Jordan Investment Fund; Rebecca Thomley, CEO Orion Associates and Athena40 Founding Member; Sheila Gulati, MD Global Capital;Julie Goran, Partner,  McKinsey (NYC);Alexandra King, CNN (NYC);Katherine Berjoan, Liberty Mutual (NYC); Ruba Borno, Cisco Systems (NYC);Irina Sacha, Founder, Verizon Media (Athens); Dana Rawashdah, Metlife (Amman).

Launched by the Global Thinkers Forum, a London-based social purpose organization with Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah as its Founding Patron, Athena40 is the first ever global list of the 40 top forward-thinking, innovative women from across all industries. It was officially announced at UNESCO on International Women’s Day 2018.

Nominations through

Findings across panels included:

London, UK: “Women have smashed the glass ceiling in the corporate world, but more progress is required. There is still not enough appreciation of diversity. The biggest barrier is the fear from within and by creating mechanisms for recognition, such as Athena40, women will be acknowledged and encouraged to continue doing great things.

Athens, Greece: “There is no glass ceiling, but a glass feeling. We create our glass ceilings. So we need mentors.  Women need more mentoring than men, so as to enable networking, break down gender obstacles to networking. We need to give back, on a one-to-one basis.”

Amman, Jordan: “Panelists stressed the importance of change starting in the education system to prompt positive change toward empowering women in Jordan, to disrupt the stereotypes and stop the perpetuation of gender disparity and decrease the masculinization of language in text books.

New York, USA: “While conversations around women in leadership are happening, and there is a will to make them happen more, we need to focus on the steps that are taken after the conversation. Confidence starts at the age of 5. It’s important to start these conversations with younger generations and get young girls excited about being leaders”.

Istanbul, Turkey: “We are in need of more initiatives to encourage women to enter the business world, more opportunities for easy access to education, mentorship programs, scholarships, grants and obviously government support to scale impact. Solidarity and unity between women has a huge importance. Role models have great influence on the women especially suffering from lack of self-confidence”.

Lahore, Pakistan:“Technology is our partner and is helping women to be more successful. Civil societies need to work to raise awareness on women issues along with media. Data tells us women who are running businesses are twice as likely to send their children to school than women who don’t have their own businesses”.