A two-day conference is coming to Toronto with the goal of advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment. The Women’s Forum for the Economy and Society will take over Toronto’s Fairmont Royal York Hotel on May 10 and 11, where female leaders from the worlds of politics and business will congregate to tackle the world’s biggest problems.
“We want to bring added value, not just on gender issues, but human issues,” said Women’s Forum managing director Chiara Corazza. “What’s happening in Japan is very different than what’s happening in Germany … but we want to listen, we want to highlight the good ideas.”
Those ideas will be tested and workshopped in various panels and speeches at the conference where more than 600 global leaders are expected to attend. Speakers will include World Bank CEO Kristalina Georgieva, Me to We CEO Roxanne Joyal and Vogue Mexico’s editor in chief Karla Martinez.
Corazza hopes that the event will “change the world through women and their vision.”
The event comes a month before the 2018 G7 Summit in La Malbaie, Que., and Corazza expects the conversations at Women’s Forum to influence the decisions that are made at G7.
“(People at the G7) need to hear different voices,” Corazza said. “They need to hear women’s voices.”
For Corazza, women’s empowerment is not about giving women opportunities just because they are women; it is about “putting women who deserve (opportunities) where they deserve to be.”
Canada was chosen as the location for the event because of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s administration and how it pays “true attention” to women, according to Corazza. Trudeau’s wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, who has long advocated for gender equality, will also be speaking at the forum.
Vicki Saunders, founder and CEO of SheEO, a Toronto-based non-profit aimed at funding female entrepreneurs, will be a part of a panel at the conference to talk about funding innovation to support women. She aims to change the current landscape, which she says doesn’t always benefit female entrepreneurs.
“We’re not trying to level the playing field — we’re trying to create a new field,” Saunders said.
For Saunders, the Women’s Forum provides an opportunity to meet like-minded people and collaborate in business endeavours. She said a woman she met at last year’s Women’s Forum in Mexico is now helping Saunders expand her business into that country.
“Bringing together amazing individuals in a room together and giving them room to collaborate is the biggest intervention we can make to create a better world,” Saunders said.