International Women’s Day 2020
‘Redefining Success’ was the theme of a star-studded event to celebrate International Women’s Day at Canada House. The event was held in partnership with FCO Women and included a surprise appearance by Canada’s First Lady Sophie Gregoire Trudeau.
The Canadian High Commissioner Janice Charette was joined on the podium by inspirational role models who told their stories to a capacity crowd. Rwandan High Commissioner HE Yamina Karitanyi spoke movingly about Rwanda’s journey from genocide to the most gender inclusive nation in Africa. The FCO’s Gender Equality Envoy Joanna Roper reflected on how peace deals involving women were more durable. RUSI’s Dr Karin Von Hippel added that more women were entering the defence and security sphere, but added that this was still work in progress.
Giving the male perspective was the FCO’s Permanent Under Secretary Sir Simon McDonald who said men were allies in the process and outlined the work the FCO was doing to ensure a “pipeline of talent” in the British foreign service. Former President of the Supreme Court Lady Hale gave a judge’s view, pointing out that “diverse decision-making bodies make better decisions”, while Dame Vivian Hunt of McKinsey & Partners gave the business case, saying diversity in business was “good for the bottom line”.
That next generation needed to be involved in the conversation, emphasised Lisa Lyons Johnston, President of Canada’s leading children’s book publisher, Kids Can Press. It was a point taken up by Canada’s First Lady who said the young generation was already leading the way with role models such as climate change campaigner Greta Thunberg and female education activist Malala Yousafzai.
The event ended on a high with Canadian stage star Alice Fearn performing a song from the hit Canadian production on the West End Come From Away.