Gender Equality & Balance as a Test of Civilisation : Ethical and Economic Imperatives for Inclusive Leadership 

Italy Meetings, Rome, 21-23 November 2023, along with Women Economic Forum (WEF)-Italy 

G100 leaders gathered in Rome at the Luiss Guido Carli University on the occasion of the first ever Italian edition of the Women Economic Forum (WEF) conference, which was also the 101st global edition, on the overall theme of “Empowering Change: Advancing Gender Equality, Prosperity and Sustainable Impact.” 

It was a historic moment to hold the conference and G100 meetings in Italy, which is both in the G7 and G20, and also has the Presidency of G7 in 2024. 

We are grateful to the First Lady, H.E. Laura Mattarella for supporting WEF-Italy edition as Honorary Chair. 

Marilena Citelli Francese, President of the MUSADOC cultural association and President of Women Economic Forum (WEF) – Italy commented that, “the achievement of gender equality and female empowerment are the prerequisites for the real participation of women in the life of the country and for the achievement of benefits, not only social but also economic. This first Italian stage of the WEF represents an important opportunity for discussion with the aim of inspiring, connecting and supporting women for a more equal and sustainable future.”

The conference featured influential leaders and speakers from industry, international organisations and academia, with in depth discussions on a range of thematic panels covering subjects such as food systems, farming, sustainability, innovation, cybersecurity, behavioural change, culturally connected communication, inclusive leadership, peacebuilding, climate action among others. 

We are deeply grateful to President of Luiss University Luigi Gubitosi who opened the conference with a powerful statement that closing the gap on gender equality was indeed a civilizational test. He also implored all to observe a minute’s silence in mourning of 22 year old young woman and university student who was fatally assaulted in a heinous incident of violence against women. 

The global epidemic of gender-based violence and femicide was discussed among women and with male allies during the course of the conference as well. UN Women reports that, “Most violence against women is perpetrated by current or former husbands or intimate partners. More than 640 million or 26 per cent of women aged 15 and older have been subjected to intimate partner violence.” Facts and figures: Ending violence against women  | UN Women – Headquarters

It calls the question, “Where are the Men?” The G100 Denim Club is a step in that direction. 

“Where are the women,” was the question raised as well by eminent leader Dr. Chiara Corazza, member of the G7 Gender Equality Advisory Council and member of the President’s Advisory Council at G100. Dr. Chiara stressed that laws and leadership must ensure that women lead in top roles in areas of the future especially STEM, Cybersecurity, AI, Politics, Energy, Infrastructure, Mobility, Funding and Capital, Climate Change, these being issues where we urgently need inclusive leadership. 

Women’s labour force participation further remains low, with gender inequality, imbalance and bias being at the root of the gaps on many fronts. Misogyny, Mindsets and Motherhood penalty, which is usual in other parts of the world as well, keeps widening the gaps further more, especially the pay gap and labour force gap. Like in Japan, also in the G7, Italy has among the lowest birth rates in the world. These subjects were discussed at length in the Corporate Leader Meeting on behalf of Laura Menicucci, Head of the Equal Opportunities Department Minister for the Family, birth rate and equal opportunities, wherein some good practices and policies were also shared, as also some others that could be added such as policies for paternity leave that would also have the added advantage of changing mindsets and enable equitable parenting. 

The panel on Innovation and Food System for a More Resilient Tomorrow

President by Sharon Cittone G100 Global Chair, Food Innovation; Founder and CEO, Edible Planet Ventures, brought together ecosystem leaders from UN agencies as FAO, IFAD, Ministerial Envoy, Entrepreneurs and Economist to address the gaps in food. An interesting takeaway was the need to influence behaviour for a culturally mediated change. Instead of asking all to invest more money or spend more money for better food, the lure of saving money through behaviour changes could serve the same ends of influencing sustainable practices in systems and supply chains. The panel shared many recommendations on transforming food systems so that humanity and planet are both healthier by the choices we make as a collective global society. The glaring gender gap in land ownership by women was also raised. 

The destiny of Africa is the destiny of Italy was oft heard as well. In fact, in the recent Presidency of India of the G20, which succeeded in bringing the African Union as a permanent member, Italy has long supported the same, and will also be inviting the African nations to Rome during the G7 Italian presidency as well. Likewise Italy is committed to strengthening further connections with the Global South. 

The G100 leaders inclusive and integrative voice was resonant at all times, ensuring actions at all levels for accelerating equality and ensuring that women across the world can live and work without fear, without violence, and with empowering access to education and opportunities to fulfil their dreams and aspirations; just as anyone else.

The meetings and program concluded with a meeting reception at The Quirinale Palace where we had the blessed opportunity to meet with H.E President of Italy, Hon’ble Sergio Mattarella, who also addressed the issue of violence against women, which was widely covered by the national media as well. It was a most touching moment when Hon’ble President told us “Do Not Stop.” We promised to persevere. Together we can. 


Sharon Cittone, G100 Global Chair, Food Innovation. 

Marilena Citelli Francese, President, Women Economic Forum (WEF)-Italy. 

Secretariat led by Founder & President, Dr. Harbeen Arora Rai 

With support of Vinay Rai, Founder & President G100 Denim Club 

Special thanks to everyone in the organising team and volunteers. 

Gratitude to our hosts and sponsors. 

Participants: G100 Global Chairs Country Chairs across 10 wings, along with robust participation of country clubs and community members from across 50 countries.