Renowned women leaders from around the globe gathered for the Global Women Leaders forum in Sofia, Bulgaria, which took place from May 18th until May 20th. The Forum concluded with the adoption of the Sofia Declaration to advance women’s leadership in all spheres and to inspire young generations. The forum was co-organized by UNESCO and the Council of Women in Business in Bulgaria (CWBB).
The forum hosted heads of states as well as global high-level speakers from business, government, academia and intentional organizations. Participants came together to learn from each other and from best practices and to identify measures that contribute to women’s empowerment and leadership and to identify the challenges that still lie ahead.
The Conference began with an Opening Ceremony on 18 May, which featured H.E. Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, keynote speaker and guest of honor, the President of Bulgaria, Mr. Rosen Plevneliev, as well as Ms. Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, also an honorary member of the CWBB, along with several high-level government officials from all over the world, including ministers from Bulgaria, the host country.
The forum addressed a wide range of issues concerning women in politics and government, the current trends and future direction of women in business, it highlighted the importance of education and training for future women leaders, women in science, technology and innovation, women’s role in peace-building, security and development and examined how to use Information, Communication Technology (ICTs) and the media to be a channel for women’s empowerment.
At the closing ceremony, on May 20th, the Sofia Declaration on Women’s Leadership was adopted in the presence of Ms Irina Bokova, Director- General of UNESCO, Ms. Aminata Toure, former Prime Minister of Senegal and Special Envoy of the President of Senegal, Ms Yordanka Fandakova., the mayor of Sofia, Yordanka Fandakova , Dr. Boriana Manolova, CEO of Siemens and Chairperson of the CWBB. All participants as well as global media outlets witnessed the occasion in formalizing the commitment to continue united efforts in empowering girls and women everywhere.
Ms. Bokova, stated that 21 years after the adoption of the Beijing Platform for Action, acknowledging women’s rights as human rights, the Sofia Declaration builds on existing commitments for gender equality.
“This declaration carries moral weight as it serves as a personal commitment we can take with us from this forum and calls on the international community to rally on behalf of women’s leadership and to inspire the next generation of female leaders,” she said.
The Sofia Declaration acknowledges advances made towards gender equality and women’s empowerment since the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (PFA) and other relevant international agreements like the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). In closing the forum, Ms. Bokova called on Member States, partners, participants and stakeholders to join forces to advance gender equality ever more in every society. As she stated, “there is simply no greater force for justice, sustainable development and lasting peace.”