How can we amplify women’s voices to ensure an equal future for all? On March 2, a dynamic panel of eight women leaders gave their insight into this, and other questions at the Women’s Voices For An Equal Future virtual event which was streamed live on YouTube.

Hosted by the United Nations System Staff College and Global Woman Leaders Voices For Change and Inclusion as part the #WomensVoicesForAnEqualFuture thought leadership series, the event featured brought together

Drawing from their experiences, panel members joined forces to convene a powerful discussion highlighting the significance of women’s leadership, gender equality, women’s empowerment, and much more.

Panellists reflected on their upbringing, and the role of environments that emphasize the value of education, belief in oneself and women’s equal rights.

“ What was fundamental was the empowerment from my parents, there was no doubt in my mind that I could achieve whatever I work for,” said Susana Malcorra, dean of IE School of Global and Public Affairs and Foreign Minister of Argentina from 2015 to 2017.

Echoing this view Isabel Saint Malo ,Former Vice President and Minister of Foreign Affairs, looked back on her own upbringing and summarized the panellists shared experiences to explain the need for enabling environments.

“We have been surrounded by an enabling environment that has allowed us to get to where we are, and that is so important and critical, because unless there is an enabling environment, we would not have been able to have the achievements that we have.”

Anita Bhatia, Deputy Executive Director, UN Women, underscored education and her professional experiences as key contributors to her success.

“I would say that it is my personal experience in benefitting from education and a family that believed in education as the lever to unlocking empowerment, as well as my professional experiences in seeing how deeply feminised poverty was, and really wanting to bring that lense to the work I do.”

The need for the proper implementation of policies, and programmes that recognize the importance women’s equal participation also formed part of the high-level discussion.

“For me it is linking the high policy level with the community level, because we will never achieve gender equality if we are not able to pull it together,” said Fathita Serour.

Rebecca Grynspan, Ibero-American Secretary-General, also spoke about policy as a game changer for uplifting women who are sinking deeper into poverty as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We need to push for public policies that will take into account the differentiated effects that the pandemic has had on women. If we don’t do that we won’t have  economic recovery, we won’t have a dynamic economic growth, and we will have a large proportion of the population having lost the rights, and the progress that we have made in the last 30 years.”

Throughout the discussion, panellists contemplated how we can all get more involved in supporting women’s leadership and gender equality.

Purmina Mane, Former President and CEO of Pathfinder International and Susana Malcorra noted that to achieve this, women’s voices would need to be brought to the fore as a means to empower women, and ensure that they have a seat at the table.“It’s time to raise our voices, it is not enough to say it, we have to make it happen, we need to go from words to deeds, but at least let’s start to say and say it clearly. We need our power, a share of power that corresponds to us being more than half of the population,” said Susana Malcorra.

Anita Bhatia and María Eugenia Brizuela de Ávila, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of El Salvador, shared the same sentiment and underscored the need to have men and boys involved in the gender equality agenda, as it cannot be fought by women alone.

Maria Fernanda Espinosa ,President of the United Nations General Assembly for the 73rd session ,emphasized the importance of strengthening the sisterhood within our communities. “What we call sorority is not always part of every woman’s DNA, and I believe that it needs to be built deliberately.  We are so much more powerful when we act together and when we act in solidarity.”

In his welcome, UNSSC Director Jafar Javan acknowledged the importance of the event as an initiative as a space for learning, and idea sharing in support of the Secretary General’s agenda on Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women.

“We at UNSSC believe that learning can enable women’s economic, political and social empowerment. This recognition has inspired our thought leadership series, and this event. We hope it will be a space for us to gain and share knowledge on how we can all advance women’s equal and meaningful participation, and contribute to reducing gender inequalities.”

A live stream on the event is available on YouTube and social media discussions can be tracked using the #WomensVoicesForAnEqualFuture hashtag.