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“The Power of Collaboration” – Women Aim for Leadership Roles through Dialogue

UNITED NATIONS, Mar 3 2014 (IPS) - Last September, , IMPACT Leadership 21, an organisation geared towards promoting the visibility of women in leadership roles called for the appointment of a woman as the next UN Secretary-General, a first in the history of the world body.

Exactly five months later, IMPACT Leadership 21 continues its mission to push for full equality between men and women.

And in a recent panel discussion titled “The Power of Collaboration: Women and the Future of Global Leadership,” the organisation took the issue a few steps further with an open dialogue featuring ambassadors, business leaders, students and media.

“Peace is inextricably linked to equality for all women, girls and men.” said Ambassador Anwarul K. Chowdhury and former UN Under-Secretary-General, during his opening remarks at the discussion.

It is estimated that there are over 193 heads of state in the world with only nine of them being women. In parliament, only 13 percent of women legislate and when it comes to chief executive officers (CEO’s) of big corporations, 15 to 16 percent of them are women.

The stark reality of the underrepresentation of women in leadership roles is what worries Janet C. Salazar, CEO and Founder of IMPACT Leadership 21.

“In order for economies and global leadership to be sustainable, it is imperative that those who are in top leadership positions in both public and private, commit to a political will and a conscious effort to make women’s leadership equality at the top of a normal, daily aspect of every institution in our society.” Salazar said in a statement.

As the global community faces its fair share of political and social instability, peaceful negotiations and dialogue are sought after, but most do not include women.

“Women need to be at the peace tables to make a difference in the transition from a culture of violence to a culture of peace.” said Chowdhury, who also expressed his disappointment for the lack of women present at the table during the recent Geneva II peace talks on Syria early this year.

According to Constance J. Peak, Chief Financial Officer and Chair of the Global Advisory Council and a panellist at the event, women fighting for leadership roles need to cultivate certain characteristics like innovation, tenacity and a sense of collaboration. Collaboration, she believes, is important because the world is “interconnected” and one cannot function without the other.

Peak also believes that it is integral for men to become involved in the push for women at the forefront. “In order for women to accelerate, we must include men in the conversation.” Peak said.

And it is not merely a conversation that IMPACT Leadership 21 hopes to create; it is a culture of collaboration that allows men to see women as leaders in both the peace process and in business world.

Creating a platform for both women and men to share ideas on equality, pushing for access to education for women and girls but also understanding that education is not enough, and empowering women to participate in both the decision making process and implementation, are just a few of the steps that “The Power of Collaboration” discussion emphasized to its audience.

And as the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, Ahmad Alhendawi, said in his closing remarks, “Don’t support women, they don’t need your support. Invest in women.”

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