The Era of Women: The Drive to Achieving Balance


A Global Selection of Powerful Female Minds

Panel Discussion in the British Library

London (UK) - May 30, 2018

Baroness Scotland of the Commonwealth Launches Athena40 in London among top global women

The Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC, Commonwealth Secretary-General, officially presided over the UK launch of Athena40 at an event last Wednesday night (30 May 2018) celebrating ‘The Era of Women’.

An audience of 130 movers and shakers from all over the world attended the launch, among them the UK Minister for Defence People and Veterans, Mr. Tobias Ellwood MP, Dr. and Mrs. Sanjeev Kanoria, Founder of Advinia Health Care, Jonathan Townsend, CEO Prince’s Trust International, Patrick Fleming, Director of Development British Library, philanthropist Rebecca Thomley, CEO Orion Associates USA, Christopher Gaunt, Chairman British Chamber of Commerce Turkey.

“Today I was absolutely determined to be with you, because what Athena40 is trying to do, I think it is of pivotal importance and I am pleased to see that there are both men and women in this audience, because it is going to take all of us.”, said The Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC, Commonwealth Secretary-General, during her keynote speech.

Baroness Scotland’s keynote was followed by a panel discussion on gender balance, which was moderated by Sarah Hall, President of CIPR and featured Elif Shafak, Author, Prof. Saskia Sassen, Columbia University, Dr Yvonne Thompson CBE, Managing Director of ASAP, Elizabeth Filippouli, Founder & CEO of Global Thinkers Forum & Athena40, Justine Lutterodt FRSA, Director & Leadership Consultant at the Centre for Synchronous Leadership.

The evening also included an exclusive interview with 86-year-old renowned Egyptian writer and activist, Nawal El Saadawi.

“Athena40 aims to highlight the importance of fearlessness and inspire women to step outside their boundaries. We need to enable women to follow their dreams, challenge themselves and be trailblazers”, said Elizabeth Filippouli, Athena40 Founder.

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


“Societies tumble back into authoritarianism, religious fanaticism, ultra-nationalism and every time these are on the rise it means sexism is on the rise. Activism has an urgency, it is not an abstract question.” Elif Shafak

“I am one of those that for decades have been fighting to recognise the intelligence of women. Having more female leaders, in multiple sectors, would be necessary. Athena40focuses on intelligence which makes it different” Saskia Sassen

“We have a duty to celebrate, and emulate, success stories of fellow women. We have a duty to be rebels and mavericks and forward thinkers. Athena40 is a movement. It is a vision -and it is action.” Elizabeth Filippouli, Founder Athena40

“Athena40 makes me optimistic that women can organise. we need to work together. Women should be ourselves, say what we feel and pay the price.” Nawal El Saadawi

“When you have global companies that do not reflect the gender or the race of their audiences, how are they supposed to make the right global decisions?” Dr. Yvonne Thompson CBE

“Athena40 is a fantastic initiative to recognise the world’s most innovative and pioneering female leaders, and comes at a time of unprecedented political turbulence, media disintermediation and societal change.” Sarah Waddington


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