The Business and Professional Women (BPW) Danube Net invited me as an EESC speaker as part of the 9th BPW Danube Net Forum in Regensburg, Germany. My topic was “Female entrepreneurship it’s an economic imperative”, in line with the SOC opinion of the EESC, however I also covered the issues of women in decision making, women in the EU political spheres and women on boards.
BPW Danube Net is the network for business women in the Danube region, and was set-up to promote networking among the Danube countries. The network is designed to be a platform for the exchange of ideas, opinions, experiences and life-long learning in the fields of work, business and culture. BPW Danube Net is part of BPW International, the umbrella organization which aims at developing the professional, business and leadership potential of women on all levels through advocacy, mentoring, networking, skills development, and economic empowerment programs and projects around the world. The annual Forums are an opportunity for members to get together, get informed on the new trends and topics within the Danube Region - also with respect to the EUDSR - as well as exchange ideas on the priorities for women entrepreneurs and professionals in the Danube Region.
The seminar was a two day event, where I attended the evening reception and spoke at the conference. For the reception we were guests of the Mayor of the stunning and very prosperous Bavarian town of Regensburg. I was personally introduced to the Mayor and to the regional MEP to share the work of the EESC. . I was delighted to see friends from Croatia who knew me well thanks to my presentations of EESC opinions in Istria.
My presentation began with harsh words against the Islamic extremist who are today targeting particularly educated girls, especially the Taliban and Boko Haram .
I highlighted that the Sustainable Development goals had two overarching objective, gender equality and human rights. Un women would have 3 objectives : Violence against women and girls, unpaid domestic work and the exploitation of women in the labour market.
I shared my story to demonstrate the power of entrepreneurship and demonstrate that human capital and ideas were a key asset of Europe’s growth, and we must do everything possible to turn ideas into action. This promoting the INT report “ Entrepreneurship as a mechanism to exit the crisis” . I shared the value of profit, values and people and promoted the Danube Strategy as an excellent opportunity for women and young people to engage in regional development.
Having attended the meeting on gender equality in the parliament the days before ( see Mission report Spring forward for Women ) I shared the current situation for women globally and in europe. The key statistic being that it would be 2095 before we reached gender equality in Europe if we allowed things to continue.
I concluded with sharing the positive statistics of female entrepreneurship and the value to the economy and job creation, and the benefits of women on boards as stated in the SOC opinion on the Commissions communication.
The challenges I raised were
- To get men in the room and stop the female only seminars
- Request statistics which allowed us to demonstrate the discrimination and unequal allocation of funding
- Question when implementation is not taking place where legislation is present.
At the end of the day, it is our responsibility to drive the change!
I was honoured to receive a very long applause and lots of questions and contacts who wanted to include the EESC opinions in its work.
The full programme and photos are available on www.bpw-danubent.org
I always appreciate speaking to an audience which accepts its responsibilities. The BPW women are great advocates of civil society inclusion in the decion making process. Thankyou, to the EESC for giving me the opportunity to address them.