2nd Athena40 Global Conversation

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.

Welcome note from Doug Wills, London Evening Standard & The Independent

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 long- term 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 per cent 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 per cent 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, award-winning author and film director.

“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 120 shortlisted were announced at the end of February 2020.

Athena40 organises a series of initiatives to discuss and celebrate women in leadership and women of positive social impact.

For more information please visit athena40forum.com and athena40.org

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. Over the years we have been building our diverse network of thought leaders to share their vision for the future, create meaningful conversations and to achieve positive change through our mentoring programmes that support youth and women around the world.
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.
Global Thinkers Forum has a network of influencers and partners that reach more than 70 countries around the world and engages leaders across business, philanthropy, academia, science, civil society, NGOs and government. GTF has partnered with some of the world’s leading brands, organisations and foundations and has an advisory board consisting of social impact focused leaders from over 20 countries.​