By Lucía Díaz-Martin, Grant Writer, Pro Mujer International
On Tuesday, March 13th, Pro Mujer presented the “Champion of the Year for Women’s Global Leadership” award to Laura Liswood at an intimate gathering of women business leaders at the Cornell Club in Manhattan. The award was originally to be given to Laura at our 2012 “Giving Women Credit” Benefit, which was postponed due to Hurricane Sandy.
As the Co-Founder and Secretary General of the Council of Women World Leaders, a network of women heads of state and government who promote good governance internationally, Laura is a long-time advocate of women’s rights and leadership. In addition, she is also a Senior Advisor to Goldman Sachs, where she was formerly Managing Director of Global Leadership and Diversity, and is the Co-Founder of The White House Project, an organization that supported women to hold the highest levels of public office for the last 14 years.
In a speech titled, “The Headwinds and Tailwinds of Women’s Leadership” given to more than 50 women in the club’s wood-paneled library, Laura addressed the challenges and opportunities faced by women leaders around the world. Laura, who is also the author of the book “The Loudest Duck,” highlighted that one of the greatest difficulties for professional women no longer lies in entering the workforce, but in advancing up the corporate ladder. “It’s not an intake problem anymore, but an upgrade problem,” she said, adding that gender-based expectations affect women’s promotion and pay levels.
It was fascinating to learn about the many incentives around the world being implemented in order to promote gender equity and ensure that women have a place at the table. Laura detailed examples such as the higher representation of women in corporate boards in the U.S. and Europe and the institution of quotas for women to be included in local councils in India.
Of particular interest were her comments about the need for a critical mass of women in the boardroom and legislature and the importance of scale in transforming societies. In order for this to occur, women and men from all levels of society and organizations from both the public and private sector need to work together.
These kinds of collaborations are the foundation of Pro Mujer’s work. By working together, we now reach 275,000 women microentrepreneurs with our integrated financial, health and human development services, so our clients can take these tools and transform their lives and the lives of their children. In the upcoming years, Pro Mujer will be forging new partnerships and scaling operations as we seek to serve more women working for a brighter future.
Editorial note – Pro Mujer’s 2013 “Giving Women Credit” Benefit will take place on Tuesday, June 18th at Cipriani 42nd Street in NYC.