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The 2nd Athena40 Global Conversation
'Making the Case for Female Leadership'
March 8, 2020

California | London | Athens | Beirut  | Amman | Joburg | Istanbul | Karachi

A Call to Action engaging high-impact women from 8 countries and 5 continents
marking International Women's Day

An audience of 600 influencers across eight countries participated in a synchronised global conversation that had 68 speakers from around the world debating live just ahead of International Women's Day, March 8th 2020. 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 H. 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 H. 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.


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