Report on the Gender Alliance Summit 2020
(By Sabine Kortals Stein)
COVID-19 has magnified the gender inequalities and power imbalances that result in fragile communities. Countering these effects of the pandemic, the recent Gender Alliance Summit explored how to design proactive responses to COVID-19 by guiding and mobilizing institutions and governments to be more inclusive of women leaders.
“There are so many amazing people doing cutting edge work around gender equity and equality,” says ElsaMarie D’Silva, social entrepreneur and founder of the Red Dot Foundation and lead organizer of the three-day, online summit (26-28 August 2020). “The Gender Alliance is a means to understand who’s doing what within global networks, to mobilize those networks and identify effective practices, and to co-create how the alliance can move forward – from members mentoring other members to creating a robust database of shared resources to identifying opportunities for collaboration.”
To that end, 222 participants from 22 countries joined the inaugural summit comprising six interactive, working sessions. The Gender Alliance is one of 45 online initiatives within the Bosch Alumni Network in 2020 and is also supported by the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt. Participants of these two international networks were further joined by members of the Global Diplomacy Lab and the Global Leadership Academy.
The first of the summit’s four thematic sessions explored inclusive diplomacy as a tool for communication and representation in post-COVID social, economic, and political systems. “With many forms of diplomacy being upended, we have the opportunity to reframe this field,” explains D’Silva. “Global resilience and global consensus will only be possible when we leave no one behind, and when we instill attitudes and behaviors that promote women, and that advance female leadership to address societal needs.”
Co-facilitated by Bosch Alumni Network member Prof. Dr. Amb. Colette Mazzucelli of New York University and advocate N. S. Nappinai of the Supreme Court India, the summit opened with a critical conversation about peace and security, specifically public health security. “This is an area with significant gender impacts,” D’Silva says. “And during the pandemic, these have become even more devastating.”
Indeed, the session’s keynote speaker Penny Abeywardena, New York City’s Commissioner for International Affairs, shared how her city’s government acted quickly and responsibly to tackle the pandemic. She noted the significant influence of women’s leadership within Mayor Bill de Blasio’s government, and described how she draws on existing global best practices in her own role.
Other explorations included the many dimensions of women’s entrepreneurship, emphasizing challenges around access to capital and funding for women-owned businesses compared to their male counterparts.
On the last day of the summit, participants focused on the responsibility of men and boys as allies in ensuring gender equity. As such, the final session presented an opportunity to discover how gender-related issues run through each of our lives, how unconscious gender biases shape lived experiences, and the personal and societal impacts thereof.
Adds D’Silva, “Through the uniqueness of the Gender Alliance, we’recreating the framework and structures that will allow us to continue to learn together, to support one another’s work, to share resources and successes, and to inspire others to join us in promoting on gender equity.” Specifically, the alliance has thus far formed several working groups – including strategy, secretariat, communications and events. The alliance is also in the initial stages of developing and rolling out a “Time to Care” toolkit to help mobilize worldwide awareness and partnerships around gender themes.
The Gender Alliance Summit showcases how we can leverage different networks to learn from one another, spark new ideas and collaborate. Among such collaborations, nine distinct projects have already emerged, co-created among summit participants:
- The Woman Fund
- Transformative Lifeskills for Children
- Dignity Media Fellowship
- Global Peace Champions for UNSCR 1325
- Tech Innovators
- Alliance to Prevent GBV and FGM in Women and Girls
- The Sophie Chan Project
- Gender, Peace and Security So White
Learn more about these projects, and consider adding your voice!
Wrapping up the Summit