World leaders and distinguished guests gathered on May 18th to commence the Global Women Leaders forum in Sofia, Bulgaria, among whom were the President of Bulgaria, Mr. Rosen Plevneliev, H.E. Sheikh Hasina, guest of honor and keynote speaker, Ms. Aminata Toure, former Prime Minister of Senegal and Special Envoy of the President of Senegal. The event was organized by UNESCO and the Council of Women in Business in Bulgaria (CWBB).
The opening ceremony took place in the historic National Art Gallery in Sofia where Director General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova stated the importance of bringing world leaders from all different disciplines together to inspire the next generation of women leaders. Ms. Bokova stressed the importance of Gender Equality and the empowerment of girls and women as not only a global priority, but as a human right. Next, the President of Bulgaria, Mr. Rosen Plevneliev, highlighted the important relationship Bulgaria has with UNESCO in creating a just world for all walks of life in order to promote sustainable development. He commended UNESCO for its work and pledged his support to continue working for the causes UNESCO's mandate enacts.
The Guest of Honor and Keynote Speaker, H.E. Sheikh Hasina, gave a compelling speech to commemorate her first official trip to Bulgaria as Prime Minister. She stated that, "gender equality and the empowerment of girls and women is an issue close to my heart, and one that everyone must unite together for. Gender equality is a human right and must be mainstreamed in all our development efforts."
Lastly, Dr. Eng. Boriana Manolova, Chairperson of the Executive Board of the CWBB and CEO of Siemens, Bulgaria spoke about inspiring the next generation of women leaders. She commended the distinguished leaders and guests from many countries for coming together in Sofia for this momentous occasion. The conference will take place from May 18th until the 20th, where women from government, business, academia, peace and security and the media will offer their insights on best practices for women leaders and how we can move forward to advance gender equality around the world.