Enact, Act, and Interact: Champions of Change, building beyond challenges. 

G100 European Meetings, along with (WEF) Spain, (W7) Italy, Austria, Switzerland and France (Cannes Film Festival), 5-22 May 2024.

The public meetings began in Rome with a meet and greet hosted kindly by Soul Sister Marilena Francese Citelli and spouse Ambassador Piero Francese. The meet was a first one in Rome after the last year’s meeting during the Women Economic Forum (WEF), and this time on the cusp of this year’s W7 (G7) meeting in the presidency of Italy. We discussed the upcoming Women Economic Forum (WEF) in Rome in 2024 as also the Women Economic Forum (WEF) – Mediterranean being planned for 2025 covering 22 countries. 

On 7 May, at the WEF Iberoamerica and G100 Meetings in Madrid, the panels covered companies’ perspectives and practices on empowerment, diversity, and inclusion, providing a platform for influential decision-makers, women and male allies, from various private and governmental sectors for driving initiatives to close the gender gap. 

Key highlights shared as below: (from Patricia Gonzales, G100 Global Chair, Human Resources & Talent Development). 

Leadership Visits and Engagements: Our events began with visits from Michelle Ferrari, President of WEF Iberoamerica and G100 Global Chair of Corporate Boards & Gender Balanced Companies, and Patricia Gonzalez, WEF Iberoamerica Counselor and G100 Global Chair of Human Resources and Talent Development. Their meetings with Don Juan Duarte, the Spanish Ambassador to Mexico, along with a previous visit in March by our founder Harbeen Arora to the ambassador’s residence, reinforced our ties and commitment to diversity, inclusion, and equity.

Special Guests in Madrid included H.E. Doña Josefa González Blanco, the Mexican Ambassador to the United Kingdom. The events kicked off with a dinner in her honor and was attended by notable G100 members, stakeholders, and Rodrigo Pintado, the Political Minister from the Mexican Embassy in Spain.

Over 200 attendees gathered at the historic Ateneo venue, a site where laws and Nobel prizes are sanctioned, and significant events are held. This event featured a robust cross-sectoral agenda, on the theme “From Words to Action.” Discussions covered cutting-edge topics like ‘Finance for Life’ by Covadonga Villar and ‘Equality’ by Teresa Viejo, addressing public policies and women pushing new horizons, along with advances discussed by Spain board members, ambassadors and ministers from SEGIB and the UN. Awards were presented in the social, health, economic, business, and communication sectors. Additionally, three iconic women were honored as Ibero-America Icons: Doña Josefa Gutiérrez Ortiz Mena, Maribel Dosantos, Senior President of Oracle Mexico, and Patricia Espinosa, First President of the Women’s Institute in Mexico. This event was recorded and streamed by our partner El Confidencial, reaching over 100,000 people worldwide, inspiring change among many women and allies.

G100 Leaders meeting featured G100 wings from Europe and Mexico, setting the stage for 2024 action plans. Esteemed speakers included Rodrigo Pintado from the Mexican Embassy, with closing remarks by Doña Josefa González Blanco. The meeting was attended by over 15 Global, Country, and City Chairs, including Maria Fernanda Reyes, Global Chair of Farming Agritourist and Agritech, Michelle Ferrari, Global Chair and Gender Balance Companies, and Patricia Gonzalez and Blanca Estela Pérez, Global and Country Chairs of Human Resources. Concrete actions to be implemented and evaluated in October 2024 were discussed. 

G100 Panel on Empowerment was organised by Blanca Estela Perez, Country Chair of Human Resources and President of the Diversity Committee of the CCE, this panel at the Casa de México discussed concrete actions to advance empowerment initiatives. The panel included Michelle Ferrari, Blanca Estela Pérez, Dr. (HC) Patricia Gonzalez, Begoña Vizcaíno Martinez, Irantzu Diez-Gamboa, and Alia Lorena Ibarra Avalos, expertly moderated by Carlos Herrero. The commitment to progress was established for 2025, emphasizing measurement because “what isn’t measured doesn’t exist.” 

This series of events concluded splendidly, marking a successful chapter for WEFIberoamerica and G100, and paving the way for future advancements.

Back in Rome on 8-9 May we participated in the W7 (G7) Summit at the Sala della Protomoteca, Rome. we are grateful to the W7 Italy President Lella Golfo and co-chairs Soul Sisters Martina Rogato, Claudia Segre, and Annamaria Tartaglia (also G100 Global Chair), for their continuing support and empowering leadership. G100 represented by its Founder and President, Dr. Harbeen Arora Rai, had the opportunity to provide perspectives during the concluding panel on “Gender Equality Pivot for Sustainability Reporting,” moderated by SKY Journalist Mariangela Pira. 

The W7 summits every year are an opportunity to mainstream gender inclusive suggestions in the G7 deliberations and find a way in the G7 Leaders Declaration through recommendations made in the W7 Communiqué. The W7 Communiqué was developed (as given in the official communique) “through discussions of feminist experts from 42 countries including youth and those from low- and middle -income countries (LMICs), and further refined through youth as well as public consultations with participation from around the globe so that voices and lived realities of those often unheard are reflected.“ In the W7 2024, Italy Presidency, thematic priorities included: labour, financial empowerment, fighting violence against women and girls, climate justice, peace & security. 

On 10 May we were in Vienna, Austria, at a hybrid conference organised by Global Chairs Brunhilde Schram (SDGs) and Ursula Oberhollenzer (CSR) followed by a meet and greet dinner. We discussed the planning of the larger event in 2025 in Vienna along with the UN. G100 Members from the denim club, advisory council, and President’s Advisory Council attended as well and ensured their support toward the project for 2025. We also learned of about inheritance laws for women, and the changes and challenges especially for overcoming traditional mindsets, like in many cultures across the world. It was very reassuring to learn of how the Vienna Philharmonic just then had asked a woman, after 180 years, to conduct one of its concerts. Change takes time but surely arrives with positive advocacy, consistent efforts and collective will. 

11-15 May were the multi-city events across Switzerland. It was so interesting to know about the idea of federal presidency in Switzerland where every new year is a new president by rotation. A female leader H.E. Viola Amherd has the Presidency for 2024. 

G100 Meet-up in Geneva was a celebration of Vision and Connection. Key highlights shared as below: (from Anila Hussain, G100 Global Chair, Business Networking). On Saturday, May 11th, the elegant Hotel d’Angleterre in Geneva was abuzz with excitement and anticipation as the G100 members and friends gathered for a remarkable meetup. The event was graced by the presence of distinguished leaders Harbeen Arora, Vinay Rai, and Melanie Rolli, Group CEO at Helsinn, Switzerland. This meetup brought together 21 G100 members and friends, all united by a shared mission and vision.

The G100 meetup in Geneva was more than just a networking event; it was a celebration of shared goals and the power of collective action. Harbeen Arora, a visionary leader known for her efforts in empowering women and fostering global connections, set the tone for the evening with her inspiring words. Her speech emphasized the importance of unity, collaboration, and the G100’s mission to create a better world through leadership and innovation. Vinay Rai, another notable figure, echoed these sentiments, highlighting the critical role that like-minded individuals and organizations play in driving positive change. His address focused on the necessity of strategic partnerships and the impact of collective efforts in achieving the G100’s vision.

One of the highlights of the evening was the keynote address by Melanie Rolli, Group CEO at Helsinn, Switzerland. Her speech was a testament to her leadership and commitment to innovation in the healthcare sector. Rolli shared insights into Helsinn’s groundbreaking work and the importance of fostering a culture of innovation and resilience. Her words resonated deeply with the attendees, inspiring them to pursue excellence in their respective fields.

The gathering of 21 G100 members and friends provided a unique opportunity for attendees to connect, share ideas, and forge new partnerships. The atmosphere was filled with enthusiasm as participants discussed ways to advance the G100 mission. Conversations flowed seamlessly, fostering an environment of mutual respect and shared purpose. The event also featured interactive sessions where members could exchange their experiences and discuss future initiatives. These sessions underscored the value of collaboration and the importance of maintaining strong networks to achieve common goals.

As the evening drew to a close, it was evident that the G100 meetup in Geneva was a resounding success. The presence of leaders like Harbeen Arora, Vinay Rai, and Melanie Rolli, along with the active participation of the members, highlighted the strength and potential of the G100 community.

The meetup not only reinforced the G100’s mission and vision but also demonstrated the power of connection and shared goals. As the attendees parted ways, they carried with them renewed energy and a commitment to continue working towards a brighter future.

The G100 meetup in Geneva was a testament to the organisation’s dedication to fostering leadership, innovation, and global connections. It was an afternoon  of inspiration, collaboration, and a shared commitment to making a difference in the world. 

We were so grateful to also have Soul Sister Global Chair (Business Accelerator) Diah Yusuf from Indonesia join us at the event. 

On 13 May were meetings in Montreux and Bern. Before leaving Geneva, we had a breakfast meeting with Soul Sister Wendy Luhabe who happened to be in Geneva for a board meeting. We were also able to meet sister Patricia Elias, G100 Global Chair, Government & Ministerial Advocacy, who had just arrived in Geneva. Wendy and Patricia also connected later at leisure. 

In Bern we had a meet and greet over dinner, while earlier during the day we were in Montreux. Dr. Nicoleta Acatrinei, G100 Global Chair of Sustainable Banking & Finance organised an official meeting with the Municipality of Montreux, represented by Madame Irina Gote, the municipal in charge with the  development of sustainable strategies for the city of Montreux and its surroundings. Madame Irina Gote, a political figure of Montreux, President of the Socialist Party Montreux, Head of Sustainability of Montreux Municipal Council, President of the Finance Commission of Montreux, Chair of the Municipal Council as well as other commissions, presented the “Montreux in action” – the plan, she and her team designed and implemented in order align the municipality’s activities with the SDGs. Under her leadership, the municipality achieved significant growth in sustainable development, including in terms of improving gender equality, SGD 5. Her initiatives show that when there are committed political actors who put words to action, it is possible to significantly better the life of local communities while fostering sustainable development. The G100 community it is grateful of such an inspiring presentation and meeting. Dr. Acatrinei shared that she is further working to make known the Montreux model to a larger audience. This experiment was thus shared also at the Federal level on May 14-15 when Dr. Acatrinei participated and met with several public officials working on local and cantonal sustainable development policies. 

On 14 May we were at the University of St. Gallen. We met in the afternoon with Prof. Dr. Gudrun Sander. She is Director of the Competence Centre for Diversity and Inclusion at the University of St. Gallen. We discussed projects together for the future over a convivial dinner meeting in sharing and caring. 

On 15 May we had a fruitful meet and greet with members and those interested in joining the G100. The meeting was organised by Iwona Fluda, Switzerland Country Chair for the G100 wing of Communication, Advocacy & Mediation. We discussed candidly the pervasive issue of sexual harassment at workplace and how might we be able to address the same as a collective through a multitude of measures that will make it safer for women to work and live their lives without fear of assault, intimidation and harassment in public places. 

Further meetings at Cannes were led by Beena Unnikrishnan, G100 Global Chair, Arts Leadership & Films. Highlights from her are shared below: 
“I had the privilege of attending the prestigious Cannes Film Festival 2024. Initially, I had planned to host an exclusive G100 meet at Cannes, but upon reflection, I realized that individual meetings would offer a more impactful and personal connection with fellow attendees. Recognizing the extensive preparation that attendees put into this event, with schedules often set months in advance, I understood the importance of maximizing our interactions. During the festival, I had the privilege of connecting with filmmakers, commission representatives, and funding bodies from around the world. Our discussions focused on the G100 initiative, a program dedicated to supporting women filmmakers, technicians, and artists globally. One of the main topics was our ambitious plan to create short films from each participating country. This idea was met with overwhelming enthusiasm and support, reaffirming my belief in the initiative’s potential and feasibility. Presenting our ideas here was truly rewarding. The positive reception and the encouragement we received underscored the importance and impact of our mission. I am confident that with continued collaboration and effort, the G100 initiative will achieve great success in empowering women in the film industry worldwide. Sharing this journey at Cannes has been a significant milestone for G100, and I look forward to the remarkable progress we will make together in the years to come.” 

Overall the meeting built momentum for stronger actions toward influencing positive change through: 
legislations enactment ( such as the dire need to address sexual harassment through legal measures); 
actions for new modes of collaboration and projects in partnership (such as in Montreux, in Vienna); and
interactions (such as in W7, WEF Iberoamerica, and the meet and greet events). 

The world is going through very precarious and challenging times where our shared humanity must persevere ever more to protect our created spaces of connection and conversation beyond borders and boundaries.

Change is channeled through Champions. Champions change with change. Embracing risks, discomfort and uncertainty that change brings us all, we can carve new nodes of engagement and enrichment through new chapters and new choices. Together we can.

Chairs in respective meetings as given above. Along with the Secretariat. Special thanks to all in the organising team, volunteers, hosts and sponsors.