Maria Guimaraes at the 2018 Women in Leadership Conference
Maria Guimaraes, UN Women regional officer for Asia and the Pacific, gave an impassioned and heartfelt speech as one of the opening speakers of the 2018 Women in Leadership Forum. The underlying argument of her speech was clear and simple: educating and empowering girls is not only the right thing to do, it’s the smartthing to do. Out of the seventeen “Sustainable Development Goals” set out of by the United Nation, only Goal n°5 directly relates to women and their empowerment. However, countless studies have proven that advancing girls’ and women’s education is a key element in achieving the other sixteen goals. Guimaraes further argued that the business community needs to be a driver of this change, not only because it represents a majority of civil society but also because it will directly benefit from it. Strong, empowered and educated women are crucial to the sustainable development of both nations and companies, especially in our ever changing and ever more complex business world. Companies with stronger female representation on their boardrooms report higher earnings of at least 2%. It is key data findings like this that awaken consciousness and will stimulate change. Strategic partnerships between the public and private sector are a win-win path to furthering gender equality, as exemplified by this inspiring conference held by the UN in collaboration with CKGSB.