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Uniting empowered women: First-ever Forbes Women’s Summit

30 May 2013 07:49 pm - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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There are many ways the world could be changed – at least if not the world, then maybe one individual at a time. The new generation of women is bubbling over with ideas on how it could be done. They stole the limelight at the recently concluded Forbes Women Summit, the first-ever conducted by the highly respected Forbes magazine, an event that combined both innovation and action.

Idea sharing platform

The summit was not a cliché that chose to dwell on the same old issues concerning women. Instead, it focused on redefining the notion of power through innovation and disruption, joining with more traditional stakeholders towards solving some of the major issues the society faces today.

The event that was featured across Forbes desktop, tablet and print platforms was part of the Forbes annual 100 Most Powerful Women’s List, giving many women the platform to share their ideas, their take on the social issues at large, connecting them all together on topics that affect us all.

Some 200 women – among them CEOs, entrepreneurs, philanthropists, innovators, disruptors, educators, heads of foundations and NGOs, artists and politicians came together to create a transformational and multigenerational platform for change at the summit.

The Forbes Women’s Summit also makes a point in relation to what concerns women most. Many social issues have a profound effect on us all and it was relevant for women to be able to have a say on how those issues could be tackled. It made sense to go from dealing with profit margins and share issues to larger, global issues that have a lasting impact ultimately on every business in every continent.

Most powerful women

If there was something important to learn here, it was that Forbes has been able to connect with and become relevant to half of the world’s population – women.
The summit focused on initiating a peer-to-peer discourse, enabling everyone to participate equally well in creating a dialogue and initiating action. The event featured women from the Forbes Most Powerful Women, 30 Under 30 and Celebrity 100. It coincided with the 10th Most Powerful Women issue and launched a yearlong Forbes editorial initiative that focuses on the size, influence and scope of the multiple platforms of Forbes.  From a viewpoint of empowering women, the 95-year-old institution still respected and recognized for its unique positioning on entrepreneurial capitalism, was committed to gathering a group of power-packed minds representing multiple spheres of influence that can indeed change the world - someday.

Among some of the participants were very different women who represented very different areas. Amanda A. Ebokosia, founder and CEO of the Gem Project, an NGO that creates educational enrichment programmes in leadership and community organising for youth, was one of them. Her work has been featured on the website of the White House and she has been listed as a 2012 alumna of the Forbes 30 Under 30 list. Ebokosia says she is passionate about education and its accessibility – “access to quality education strengthens families and communities,” she says.

Belief in innovation

Katia Beauchamp, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Birchbox e-commerce site on beauty and lifestyle products, is Harvard Business School alumni. She is passionate about levelling the playing field and giving more talent an opportunity to impact the world.

In contrast, Radha Agrawal, Founder/CEO of Super Sprowtz and Co-Founder of THINX, believes strongly in innovation. Her company focuses on enabling children to make better food choices – while her latest project THINX provides sustainable underwear for women during their period.

Slater Jewell-Kemker, an award-winning 20-year-old with a passion for movies, was also invited to attend the summit. Born in Los Angeles to filmmaker parents, she has handled the production on ‘An Inconvenient Youth’ chronicling the rise of the global youth climate movement. She says she is passionate about adapting to climate change.

The diversity of the participants stood testimony to the varied interests represented in the gathering. It also helped Forbes focus on issues that define and give rise to a wide variety of concerns. In the process, it also brought out and put together many different women, united by a common cause.

(Nayomini Weerasooriya, a senior journalist, writer and a PR professional, can be contacted at nayominiweerasooriya@gmail.com)
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