May 17, 2018, CCXX

No. CCXX; May 16, 2018


With energy, passion, and a commitment to women’s economic empowerment, 1,250 attendees from 65 countries came together at the 2018 Global Summit of Women in Sydney, Australia on April 26-28 to experience the immense possibilities resulting from a vibrant gathering of women leaders from all industries, sectors, and parts of the world.  As it has succeeded in doing annually since 1990, the 2018 Global Summit of Women featured active networking, robust discussion, inspiring presentations, and a focus on solutions and skills-building unlike any other event with a truly global group of women leaders in business and government.

The diverse group of entrepreneurs, corporate executives, and government ministers and senior officials were warmly welcomed by Australia, proud to host the Global Summit of Women for the first time.  Under the theme of “Women: Creating Economies of Shared Value,” the delegates learned from over 80 dynamic presenters highlighting the ability of women to develop a more inclusive economy as they advance their own businesses and careers.  The Summit’s focus on creative solutions was never more evident than in Sydney this April.

“In each and every session, I could see the depth of learning in the face of delegates, whether they were from Azerbaijan, Vietnam or Australia,” said Summit President Irene Natividad.  “Without a doubt, they will return to their countries, companies, and communities determined to use that knowledge to make an impact in their lives and on the lives of others.”

Among the 65 countries represented at the 2018 Summit, the largest delegation came from China with 113 high-level entrepreneurs joining the Summit in Sydney.  Also reaching 100 was Vietnam led by its Vice President Dang Thi Ngoc Thinh and four government ministers followed by Kazakhstan with 91 women business owners.  Other large delegations included South Korea, the US, Mongolia, South Africa, Azerbaijan, and the 2017 Summit host country Japan. In addition, participating in the Global Summit of Women for the first time were representatives of several Pacific Island countries.

“It was especially rewarding to welcome women from countries such as Nauru, Palau, Kiribati,  Vanuatu, among others, to the Summit,” said Summit President Natividad. “Their level of engagement in the discussion added greatly to the overall discourse at this year’s event and helped to create a dynamic spirit among all participants in Sydney.”  The participation of Pacific Islander Ministers and business leaders was supported by Australia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

(left to right) Hon. Julie Bishop, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Australia, Hon. Atifete Jahjaga, Former President of Kosovo and H.E. Dang Thi Ngoc Thinh, Vice President of Vietnam welcome participants to the 2018 Summit

The Summit opened on April 26 with a joyous Opening Ceremony in the Darling Harbour Theatre at the International Convention Centre Sydney. Taking the stage at the Opening Ceremony was the former President of Kosovo Atifete Jahjaga, Vice President of Vietnam Dang Thi Ngoc Thinh, and Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop alongside Summit President Natividad, and Australian Host Committee Co-Chairs Ann Sherry, Chairman of Carnival Australia, and Lyn Lewis-Smith, CEO of BusinessEvents Sydney.  During her speech, Minister Bishop welcomed the delegates and stressed that promoting gender equity globally is an integral part of Australia’s foreign policy.

“We came to Australia to showcase its many successful public and private sector initiatives to level the playing field for women,” said Natividad.  “Through the expertise of the many Australian presenters and the warm embrace by the host country’s participants, I know that the delegates who came to Australia for the Summit left with a better understanding of this country’s ongoing efforts toward gender equity.”

For more photos from the 2018 Summit, visit


For the first time since Corporate Women Directors International (CWDI), the research arm of the Global Summit of Women, began examining the composition of the Boards of Directors of companies in the Fortune Global 200 listing in 2004, the percentage of women directors crossed the 20% line in new research presented at the 2018 Summit in Sydney.  The current percentage of 21.4% doubles the percentage of women directors of these global powerhouses which stood at 10.4% in 2004.

The increase has largely been driven by European companies in the listing whose percentage of women on boards has increased from 9.1% in 2004 to 32.1% at the start of 2018.  The surge of women directors in Europe has been due to national initiatives to accelerate women’s access to board positions, primarily through quotas.  Leading the way in Europe and globally are France and Italy, both of whom have legislative quotas which moved rapidly the numbers of women appointed to board seats.  From 2004 to the present, women on boards of French companies in the Fortune Global 200 have increased from 7.2% to 43.4%, while women holding board seats of Italian companies have increased from 1.8% to 34.8%.

Lagging behind Europe are the U.S. and other countries in the Americas. Since 2004, the percentage of women board directors on the American continent has increased only 0.5% per year, from 17% in 2004 to 24.5% in 2018.  Further behind Europe, but having shown some significant increases in certain countries, is the Asia-Pacific region. While the current percentage in the region is only 7.6%, this represents a major jump from its percentage in 2004 when it was a paltry 0.9%.

The report makes the case for quotas and other national initiatives to move the needle.  “The ‘supply’ of board-ready women has been there for some time, but what quotas do is force the demand from companies within a specified timeline,” said CWDI Chair Irene Natividad.  “That’s why they are effective.”

For more key findings from the CWDI report, click here.                                                 
For a Wall Street Journal news article on the CWDI Report, click here.


The Global Summit of Women was honored to present its Global Women’s Leadership Award to the Prime Minister of Bangladesh H.E. Sheikh Hasina at the Summit’s Global Women’s Leadership Award Gala Dinner at the Summit in Sydney. Prime Minister Hasina was saluted for her outstanding leadership in advancing education for women and girls and increasing opportunities for women entrepreneurs in Bangladesh and throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

In accepting the Award, the Prime Minister urged all people to work together to overcome traditional gender stereotypes regarding women’s ability and to reach out to marginal and vulnerable women still living in poverty. “We have to forge a new alliance to support women and to uphold their rights,” she said. “Together, we must act on our shared culture, tradition and values to benefit millions of women in need.”

For the video showing why Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina received the Award, click here or the photo above.

The Summit also awarded the Former Governor General of Australia Hon. Dame Quentin Bryce AD CVO and Australian indigenous women’s leader Andrea Mason with the Australian Women’s Leadership Award for their work in ensuring economic opportunities for women in Australia.   Dame Quentin Bryce was saluted for her work throughout her career as an academic, lawyer, community advocate, senior public official, university college principal to advance human rights and equality and the rights of women and children.  Andrea Mason, Chief Executive of the Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Women’s Council, was recognized for her dedication to helping women the central desert region of Australia while also working with Australian corporations and government departments to develop their Reconciliation Action Plans.


2018 Awardees, Andrea Mason, CEO, Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Women’s Council,  H.E. Sheikh Hasina Wazed, Prime Minister of Bangladesh and Dame Quentin Bryce AD, Former Governor General with Summit President, Irene Natividad


Featured in a plenary session on “Why Millennials Are Critical to 21st Century Economies” three successful women entrepreneurs, who have thriving businesses they formed in their 20’s, shared with Summit delegates the impact their generation will have on the workplace of the future and the economy at large.

They areHolly Ransom, CEO of Emergent, a company specializing in disruptive strategy and building the capacity of leaders to execute change; Elise Apollini, Managing Partner of Capital Chemist Waniassa; and Alison Green, the Founder and CEO of Pantera Press.  Each of the panelists detailed how each of their enterprises strives to effect change in the broader society by how they conduct their business both internally among their workers and through their clients and customers.

Cindy Hook, CEO of Deloitte Australia, kicked off the panel by sharing the findings of Deloitte’s Millennial Survey which illuminated some key millennial trends. Among the key trends:

  • Minority of millennials believe businesses behave ethically and business leaders are committed to improving society;
  • 43% of millennials would choose to leave their jobs within 2 years; and
  • Only 36% of millennials say their organization is preparing them for Industry 4.0.
  • This generation finds entrepreneurship an attractive route to a career.

To enable millennials to access the Summit, 200 university students were invited to attend for free the Summit’s “Youth Forum”, where the three entrepreneurs cited above were able to expand on their respective enterprises to underscore that creating one’s own business may be a route for those attending.  In addition, 20 outstanding young women were selected by a committee to attend the entire Summit for free.  “The Summit is committed to ensuring that young people gain access to the expertise available from the wealth of talent showcased at this gathering,” said Summit President Natividad. “Likewise, it is important that Summit participants hear from the young entrepreneurs.  We can both learn from each other as we move forward.”


In the wake of women globally speaking up against sexual misconduct by men in the context of work, the Closing Ceremony of the 2018 Global Summit of Women powerfully addressed the economic cost of violence against women.

Atifete Jahjaga, the former President of Kosovo, opened the ceremony by sharing her efforts to fight the use of rape as an instrument of war as was experienced by women in her country.  Andrea Mason, the CEO of the NPY Women’s Council and recipient of the Australian Women’s Leadership Award at the Summit, spoke about her efforts to address domestic abuse among indigenous communities in Australia.  Lastly, Tracey Spicer, the Founder of NOW Australia, discussed what public and private sector leaders can do to stem the continuing sexual misconduct inflicted on women.

Together, the three presentations outlined the economic and social impact of violence against women and provided Summit delegates with a deeper commitment to ensure the safety of women and girls globally.

To see more from the Summit, please visit




JULY 4-6, 2O19

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