Event Report: G(irls)20 Summit
Is there a way to deconstruct the persistent and systematic underrepresentation of women in corporations, academia, governments, entrepreneurship, and other areas of society?
The panel discussions and conversations that took place at the G(irls) 20 Summit 10th Annual Global Summit centered around this enormous, yet meaningful question.
G(irls) 20 is a global initiative that aims to cultivate young female leaders who can take up decision-making roles in different areas of the world. G(irls) 20's investment in young women takes forms of leadership training and education, provision of networking opportunities, and offering access to unparalleled opportunities at home and abroad. The Summit is one of the pillar activities of G(irls) 20, in which delegates from different parts of the world spend around a week together in one location and attain knowledge, experiences, and connections that they can bring back to their respective home countries to promote women's and girls' empowerment.
This year, G(irls) 20 Summit was held in Japan, and I was privileged enough to join a whole-day panel event hosted at the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo. Japanese delegate was Irene Evbade-Dan, a graduate student of environmental studies currently based in Germany.
The event consisted of five panel discussions with distinguished activists, business persons, and educators, and a keynote speech by Alexandra Loras who has dedicated her life to urging racial and gender justice.
In one of the panels titled "Unlocking Digital Inclusion Through STEM & Entrepreneurship,"Janelle Sasaki, Director of Gender Brand, Marketing & Communications at EY Japan and W20 Japan Committee Member, revealed a shocking fact. According to Ms. Sakaki, it would take approximately 202 years to achieve a complete economic gender parity, if gender equality continued to advance at the same rate as today.
One of the reasons for such a slow progress was provided by another panelist Astrid Fontaine, Member of the Board for People, Digitalization and IT. Ms. Fontaine explained that much of the changes for gender-equality promotion were implemented by private corporations, but very by governments. Any positive changes towards equality and inclusion are welcome, but an expansive, dramatic, and orchestrated change requires government policies and law enforcements.
"We cannot just rely on private areas to improve the situation." Ms. Fontaine claimed. "It has to be a governmental move."
Another problematization made by the third panelist Marieme Jamme, founder of iamtheCODE, was that policy- and decision-makers spend excessive time on "talking" and "adopting action plans" but lack the ability to implement them swiftly and effectively. Ms. Jamme urged the G(irls) 20 delegates to utilize their voices to pressure the political leaders to produce actual and visible changes.
Talking about women's empowerment is necessary, but certainly insufficient if we want to achieve a complete gender equality while we are alive. We need to take decisive actions. This was the major takeaway from the Global Summit. The event also made me ponder how WE Int.'s activities and platform could be utilized for the acceleration of gender inclusion in Japan. But one thing I am excited about is the development of WE Int. in the next decade. G(irls) 20, after ten years from its establishment, has become a major accelerator and influential advocate for gender equality. I hope that WE Int. follows the path of G(irls) 20 and becomes the central change-maker in the Japanese society and beyond.
Learn more about G(irls) 20 at: https://girls20.org/
Learn more about Global Summit 2019 Tokyo at: https://girls20.org/2019-japan/
Article written by Yuki Nakao, Co-founder of WE Int.