More than 400 GWI delegates, independent members and friends from more than 50 countries celebrating together a century of international friendship between graduate women who believe in Peace through Education at the 33rd Triennial General Assembly (GA), Centenary Celebration and conference – Geneva, 25-28 July 2019, the University of Geneva (UNIGE).
UWE Board was honored to take part at this historic event hosted by the University of Geneva (UNIGE) which was possible thanks to the organizers: the Graduate Women International (GWI) Board , Swiss Association of University Women (SVA) and all their interns and volunteers.
On a first day at GWI 33rd General Assembly, after welcome speeches by GWI President, Geeta Desai and Doris Boscardin, President of the Swiss NFA, Lisa Mazzone, member of the Swiss National Council, evoked women pioneers, role models that paved the way for women, a century ago there were only 10 percent of women in universities, thankfully this has changed. She mentioned the historical mobilization in Switzerland on 14 June 2019 when half a million people gathered to bring awareness about equal pay.
Next speaker about “Education: A Tool Against Misogyny” Brigitte Mantilleri, Director Gender Equality – UNIGE illustrated us the gender inequality and misogyny in the portrayal of women through history.
By lunch we were invited by GWI Vice President Eileen Focke-Bakker to take part to a short Regional Leaders Group Meeting and share our top five issues of each region.
During the evening we embraced this lifetime opportunity to be invited at the WTO for a Keynote Discussion on Women’s Empowerment followed by a reception, the discussion highlighted the work of the WTO on trade and gender and the role of trade in fostering education, peace and women’s empowerment. Speakers were Roberto Azevèdo, Director General, WTO via video message, Ambassador Sunanta Kangvalkulkij, General Council Chair, WTO; Arancha Gonzalez, Executive Director, International Trade Centre; Ratnakar Adhikari, Executive Director, Enhanced Integrated Framework; Gabrielle Marceau, Counsellor, Legal Affairs Division, WTO; Anoush der Boghossian, Trade and Gender Focal Point, WTO; Geeta Desai, GWI President.
The Peace through Education conference started on 27 July with an emotional speech of keynote speaker Zamaswazi (Swati) Dlamini Mandela, granddaughter of Nelson Mandela, Human Rights Activist, Founding Partner and Shareholder of Qunu Workforce, South Africa’s leading consultancy creating equality in the workforce for those living with disabilities, who shared her remarkable heritage and the influence of her grandfather and grandmother on her life, highlighting how the fight for education, empowerment and freedom for all is deeply rooted in their ideals and life’s work.
Very interesting to hear the experts from the first panel discussion – The Evolving Roles of Education and Gender Equality in the Prevention and De-Escalation of Conflict and in Building Sustainable Societies. Dr. Barbara Mercer- Moser, Founder of In – Zone, who has pioneered innovative approaches to multilingual communication and higher education in communities affected by conflict and crisis. Dr. Christelle Rigual, Researcher and Coordinator at the Gender Centre at the Graduate Institute. She has researched the relationship between gender inequality and armed conflict and how gender equality can de-escalate conflict. Adiba Qasim, from Sinjar District in Iraq, student at UNIGE and young leader in foreign and security policy at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy, with a unique perspective as a woman in a conflict zone and an understanding of the role of women in security, she experienced the invasion of her district.
According to GWI, more than 68 workshops, papers and seminars during the conference, shared their experiences and expertise in research, policy development and inspired us to develop strategies to prioritise education, women and peace.
During the Swiss Culture Night we sailed on smooth peaceful waters and enjoyed the wonderful tour of the Lake Geneva, Swiss Cuisine and traditional music on boat steam Simplon with efficient and strong engine put into service in 1919, same age as GWI.
On Sunday lunchtime we had our successful short Annual General Meeting in the presence of our delegates from all over Europe and Israel, with interesting topics on the agenda, emphasizing the work on the collective complaints and on the Erasmus Project “NET POWER” aiming to create a network for promotion of women empowerment recognition in partnership with Italian in Italy, Les Femmes Chefs D’Entreprise Mondiales, University Women Romania Association, Finnish Federation of Graduate Women and University Women of Europe.
Marion Gibson, leader,motivator and peacemaker, nominalized by the Irish Federation of University Women received the Jans Gremmée Award from Terry Oudraad, new GWI President and Annelies P. Bults was reelected Treasurer with unanimous support.
Thank you all for coming, congratulations to them and to the newly elected GWI Board of Directors, Committee Convenors and Committee Members for the next term: 2019 – 2022, see you next year at the UWE Conference & Annual General Meeting – Paris, 18-20 September, when we will celebrate 100 years of AFFDU and 40 years of UWE!
More pictures on our facebook album HERE