The 3rd Athena40 Global Conversation

The 3rd Athena40 Global Conversation

“Women’s Leadership in Times of Crises”

For a third year Athena40 hosted multiple panels around the world marking
International Women’s Day 2021

London | Zagreb | Beirut | Amman| Irvine, CA | Oregon| Lagos| Nairobi | Karachi

London March 8, 2021 –On International Women’s Day 2021, the international organisation Athena40 brought together for a third year, leading women from across eight countries participating in a synchronised online global conversation, debating live about women’s role as effective leaders in times of crises, but also local challenges that have been exacerbated by the pandemic.

The speakers covered a variety of industries, ages, cultures and five continents. Among them: Margery Kraus, Founder & Executive Chairman APCO Worldwide, Mary Carlin Yates, Ambassador (ret.) of the U.S. Department of State, Elizabeth Filippouli, Founder of Athena40, Ivana Gažić, President of the Management Board of Zagreb Stock Exchange, Tsitsi Mutendi, Co-founder of African Family Firms, May Chidiac Former Minister & President of May Chidiac Foundation, Tram Anh Nguyen, Co-founder of the Centre for Finance, Technology & Entrepreneurship (CFTE), Leonor Stjepic, CEO of the Montessori Group, Diana Moukalled, Editor of Daraj Media, Hajara Kabeer, Founder of the Girl in STEM Initiative, Manoah Esipisu MBS High Commissioner of Kenya to the UK, Donica Pottie, Canadian Ambassador to Jordan,Doug Wills, Editor Emeritus Evening Standard and BBC’s World Tim Willcox.

They all connected live from London, with Tim Willcox being the ‘Global Chair’ and linking live to other panels in London, Zagreb, Amman, Beirut, Karachi, Nairobi, Lagos and later in the day Oregon and Irvine, California to get a sense of what challenges women need to overcome across different societies and cultures, but also to discuss the virtues of women’s leadership and how women can bring back trust, vision and accountability in a world that is so uncertain.

HRH Princess Sumaya bint El Hassan, President of the Royal Scientific Society opened the global conversation: “Let’s all choose to challenge. Remember always that compassionate leadership is strong leadership. This is what truly benefits our world, and benefits the future that we all deserve.”

Elizabeth Filippouli, Founder & CEO of Athena40 said: “Paving the way for more women into leadership positions is our only chance to recover fast from social and financial setbacks and it is also critically important for the emotional and psychological balance of our societies”.

"Women's empowerment benefits everyone in society and continuing progress on gender equality cannot be abandoned in times of crisis", said Catherine Bolzendahl, Director of the School of Public Policy, Oregon State University.

“During my experience of 30 plus years as a diplomat, I witnessed civil wars and crises from Burundi to Liberia, Sudan to Somalia just to name a few. I can unequivocally testify that the contributions and leadership of women during such times was undeniably critical”, said Mary Carlin Yates, Ambassador (ret.) of the U.S. Department of State.

“For women leaders, there is a true power in being underestimated, and when we speak up for ourselves, we are speaking up for the women who follow us. We also have huge potential to make a clear impact on the daily lives of our employees and our communities through sharing our stories of what it took to get here”, said Margery Kraus, Founder & Executive Chairman of APCO Worldwide.

“Women have always been known as the craters of balance in society. They are as we know half the society and the other half is delivered by them”, said HRH Sayyida Basma Al Said, Founder, Whispers of Serenity Clinic for Mental Health.

We are individuals in a collective and a collective of individuals. What intertwines us is that we are a product of the collective. When we harm one, we harm all, but when we strive for the betterment of all, we become stronger and better together”, said Tsitsi Mutendi, Co-founder of African Family Firms.

“If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is how exceptional women leaders have been in times of crisis. We are witnessing a transformation in leadership and governance, and I firmly believe that it is a result of more women being in positions of power”, said Dr May Chidiac Former Minister& President of May Chidiac Foundation & Media Institute.

"This year is a year of being reborn and reset for many people. I would encourage women to start building your knowledge, learn and try new things. Embrace and love the change”, said Tram Anh Nguyen, Co-founder of the Centre for Finance, Technology & Entrepreneurship (CFTE).

“In a time of crisis, good leadership is vital. How women’s leadership has contributed and can contribute to managing this crisis is an essential discussion for Women’s leaders to have”, said Leonor Stjepic, CEO of the Montessori Group.

"The research is clear. Organizations perform better when gender equality is embraced. And that is just as true in times of crisis", said HE Andrew Dalgleish, British Ambassador to Croatia of the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office.

“Compassionate leadership in times of crisis achieves better results”, said Katarina Kecko, Partner of KPMG in Croatia.

“Throughout history, women have shown great resilience and adaptability in times of crisis. In order to make greatest use of these two very important leadership skills, we need to have more women in business and in leading roles”, said Ivana Gažić, President of the Management Board of Zagreb Stock Exchange.

“Women pay heavy prices in times of crisis as we all witnessed during the previous months due to the pandemic. And yet, they are still not considered in strategic decision making”, said Diana Moukalled, Editor of Daraj Media.

“There will be no victory in environmental causes, peace, justice, equality and human dignity without the meaningful participation of women in decision-making”, said Amani Beainy, political & human rights activist and Co-founder of the National Campaign to save the Bisri Valley.

“Feminist leadership is transformative and yields real change by challenging mainstream power relations and structures to bring about social justice”, said Myriam Sfeir, Director of the Arab Institute for Women (AiW).

“Sometimes we're fractured by the choices we make; sometimes we're shattered by things we would never have chosen. But our brokenness is also the source of our common humanity, the basis of our shared search for comfort, meaning, and healing”, said Teresa Njoroge, Founder & CEO of Clean Start Solutions in Kenya supporting women former prisoners.

“Over and over, women keep proving themselves as leaders in times of crises, whether as frontliners in the health and security sector, local leaders serving their communities, or as leaders in leadership positions ensuring that planning for responses to crises is gender responsive and does not exacerbate inequality within society.”, said Dr Salma Nims, Secretary General of Jordanian National Commission for Women.

“Year 2020 has allowed us to witness relational Women’s leadership at its best, as we saw countries led by women faring better than others”, said Deema Bibi, CEO of INJAZ Jordan.

“Women are having by nature the capacity to lead. All we have to do is nurture young girls for better leaders for tomorrow”, said Farhat Asif, Founder President of the Institute of Peace & Diplomatic Studies in Pakistan.

“Women have a special button which gets "ON" in times of crisis. They instinctively take control and act with compassion, care and empathy”, said Attiya Mahmood, Former diplomat & Ambassador of Pakistan.

“I choose to challenge the unconscious biases that often lead to incorrect assumptions about what women are capable of!”, said Yewande Sadiku, Executive Secretary/CEO of the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission.

“It is no doubt that the glass ceiling is shattered but the broken rung exists between entry level and top leadership. This is because women are often the minority in the room”, said Hajara Kabeer, Founder of the Girl in STEM Initiative in Nigeria.

"If you are a woman leader, leave the ladder down. Even better, help someone up the ladder behind you", said Maccs Pescatore, CEO of Montessori Centre International.

Panelists March 8, 2021

Note to editors –for findings from each city please contact:

e: t: 07790762352

About Global Thinkers Forum

Global Thinkers Forum (GTF) is a non-profit organisation with a core mission to promote values-based thinking and accountability in leadership. The Forum is London-based and was incubated at Oxford University’s Said Business School in 2011. It was launched in 2012 under the patronage of Her Majesty Queen Rania al Abdullah in Amman, Jordan.

About Athena40
Athena40 was officially launched at UNESCO on International Women’s Day March 8 2018, as a women-led platform promoting the work of innovative women from around the world. The Athena40 developed into a family of initiatives focusing on strengthening the role of women worldwide and nurturing accountable and visionary leadership. Athena40 offers access to networks, recognition, mentoring.