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January 23, 2018

The Wo-Men At Davos

Compiled by Shubham Ladha

This year, for the first time, the co-chairs of the World Economic Forum are all women. In a tribute to them, we highlight some of their thoughts

This month’s summit in Davos (January 23-26, 2018) – the World Economic Forum – is witnessing a historical happening. For, for the first time in its 48-year history, the summit will have women as co-chairs. Sharan Burrow, Fabiola Gianotti, Isabelle Kocher, Christine Lagarde, Ginni Rometty, Chetna Sinha and Erna Solberg are the seven trend-setting women who will shape the course of discussions – and the thoughts that emerge from it. We take a quick look at these Davos women who are co-chairing the event that is centred around the theme “Creating a shared future in a fractured world.” This is gaining a different dimension in a world – even the business one – that is being gripped by the #Metoo movement.

Chetna Sinha

Chetna Sinha is the Founder and President of Mann Deshi Mahila Bank and Mann Deshi Foundation in India, as well as a social entrepreneur, microfinance banker, economist, farmer and activist. A Yale World Fellow, she has worked with marginalized communities since 1986. Since 2006, she has developed global partnership programmes that allow corporations in the US and Europe to gain insight into the impact of microfinance initiatives on India’s rural population. In 2013, Chetna Sinha was selected as the Indian Social Entrepreneur of the Year by the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship and the Jubiliant Bhartia Foundation.

On her agenda for Davos: “The most important thing I would say at Davos, which I hope everyone takes note of, is that India is a nation of entrepreneurs.”

On her firm belief in female entrepreneurs: “It is a great time to invest in women entrepreneurs. We know manufacturing units can create jobs but how many jobs will these be? Ultimately, it will be entrepreneurs who will create jobs in India.”

Sharan Burrow

Sharan Burrow is the General-Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) in Belgium. She’s an expert on education, industrial relations and social policy owing to her own experience as a former schoolteacher. Apart from being the former President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), and a member of the boards of the Australia Institute, Global Reporting Initiative Stakeholder Council and the Committee for Melbourne, she’s strongly involved in researching global labour market trends to protect the labour movement and its rights.

On WEFs past lack of female representation amongst swarms of men: “They need to listen if they care about their families and particularly about the question of equality and equal opportunity for their daughters.”

On the widening gender disparity in society: “If you ask me whether this rise of the alpha leader has created a wave of misogyny, you know my answer is yes.”

Fabiola Gianotti

A globally renowned particle physicist, Fabiola Gianotti became first the Director-General of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva, in 2016. Because of her broad knowledge about and remarkable leadership of the ATLAS experiment from 2009 to 2013, the Higgs boson discovery was made. Apart from receiving the Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics, the Enrico Fermi Prize of the Italian Physical Society, the Medal of Honour of the Niels Bohr Institute and the Wilhelm Exner Medal, she was also a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the UN Secretary-General, Mr Ban Ki-moon, between 2014 and 2016.

On co-chairing the 2018 World Economic Forum: “It is a great honour to have been chosen for this role and I hope to show the importance of scientific input in global discussions. (With her talk, she will) highlight the role of fundamental science in the progress of knowledge, as a driver of innovation to the benefit of society and as a way to foster peaceful collaboration among people from all over the world.”

Isabelle Kocher

Isabelle Kocher is the Chief Executive Officer of ENGIE Group, a global energy company, which operates in more than 70 countries, employs about 153,000 people and achieved revenues of €69.9 billion in 2015. An engineer and physicist by education, she was the first Frenchwoman to lead a company in Paris’s CAC 40 stock market index. Apart from being a member of the boards at SUEZ and Axa, she chairs the Terrawatt Initiative (TWI), a global non-profit organisation, which aims at scaling up solar capacity in the world.

On planning to talk about the need to move towards a shared future: “We are coming to the end of a cycle. Look at what is happening in the energy sector. With the intolerable levels of CO2 in the atmosphere, society has realised that it is up against a limit with the energy model as it has been until now. There is a rift between economic development and the planet.”

Christine Lagarde

Following a career in international law and the French government, Christine Lagarde is the first female Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington DC, since 2011. A national of France, she was previously the French Finance Minister from June 2007 to July 2011, and had also served as France’s Minister of State for Foreign Trade from 2005 to 2007. Lagarde also has had an extensive career as an anti-trust and labour lawyer, serving as a partner with the international law firm of Baker & McKenzie, where the partnership elected her as chairman in October 1999.

On female empowerment, her agenda for WEF: “Giving women and girls the opportunity to succeed is not only the right thing to do but can also transform societies and economies. Time is up for discrimination and abuse against women. The time has come for women to thrive.”

Ginni Rometty

With a background in computer science and electrical engineering, Ginni Rometty is the Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of IBM Corporation. She began her career with IBM in 1981 in Detroit and has held a series of leadership positions at the global technology company. She is also a member of the board of trustees at Northwestern University, as well as the board of overseers and board of managers at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Rometty will be focusing on data responsibility and trust.

On her strongly felt message for WEF: “The data + AI economy is paving the way for new innovations, broadened access to opportunity and solutions to some of society’s most pressing problems. That’s why I’m urging all my fellow leaders in business and government to adopt principles of data stewardship and transparency.”

Erna Solberg

Erna Solberg is the Prime Minister of Norway. She has held a seat in the Storting (Parliament) since 1989 and served as Minister of Local Government and Regional Development from 2001 to 2005. Since 2004, she has been the leader of the Conservative Party. Solberg was appointed Prime Minister of Norway in 2013, and leads a government formed by the Conservative Party and the Progressive Party. She is the Co-Chair of the Millennium Development Goals Advocacy Group.

On her agenda at WEF: “We must realise that women’s potential is “macro-critical”. Delivering on this may sound like a tall order, but it simply means making the most of everybody’s talents?”

On Norway’s parental leave schemes:”Helping women stay active in the workplace while raising a family is key. Women’s participation contributes enormously to economic growth AND enables them to pick up the mantle of leadership in work, business, and public life.”

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