WOMEN’S FORUM SPECIAL REPORTS
An ongoing series of articles highlighting upcoming topics and topical outcomes from Women’s Forum events around the world
WOMEN’S FORUM ITALY 2015
Mark your calendars: The next major Women’s Forum event is happening at the end of this month, during the 2015 Universal Exhibition in Milan. Women’s Forum Italy 2015, taking place 29-30 June and kicking off the Women’s Weeks conference series, is devoted to the theme Nurturing a Sustainable Future, and will examine issues surrounding food and nutrition from the perspective of gender.
WELCOME TO TO WOMEN’S FORUM ITALY 2015
Last October Ertharin Cousin, Executive Director of the World Food Program, attended the Women’s Forum Global Meeting in Deauville, France, and gave a moving, memorable talk about world hunger and the campaign to eliminate it within a generation. She demonstrated how hunger and malnutrition relate to other problems – food insecurity, lack of access to adequate healthcare, gender inequality – and she raised awareness of the disturbing and all-too-common scenario where “women eat last” when there is not enough food for the whole family. Poor women around the world first feed their children, then their husbands, and finally – if anything is left over – it is their turn, Ms Cousin said.
Ertharin Cousin, who was named one of the 50 most powerful women in the world by Forbes, will be a much-anticipated key speaker at Women’s Forum Italy, taking place 29-30 June in Milan. Other key speakers include Italy’s Foreign Affairs Minister Paolo Gentiloni and environmentalist-author Vandana Shiva.
Building on the theme Nurturing a sustainable future, some 500 participants – men and women leaders from around the world – will focus on issues relating to food and nutrition from the perspective of gender. Women farmers produce more than half of the all food worldwide, and women typically bear a greater responsibility for buying and preparing meals. Women and girls suffer more from food insecurity than do boys and men. They are also more vulnerable to obesity and far more exposed to eating disorders. Women leaders from varying sectors and geographies will speak along with their male counterparts on topics relating to feeding the planet in a sustainable future.
The Women’s Forum Italy sessions will focus on three specific program streams drawn from Expo Milano 2015:
- Feast and famine, a contemporary paradox
- The future of food: What will we eat in the future?
- Sustainable food = An equitable world
Other featured speakers include:
- Guido Barilla, Chairman, Barilla Group and Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition Foundation
- Fiona Dawson, Global President, Mars Food
- Oscar Farinetti, Founder, Eataly
- Alessandro Marchionne, CEO, Genagricola
Partners for the event:
- Strategic Partners: CHOPARD, THE COCA-COLA COMPANY, GENERALI GROUP, SISAL
- Associate Partners: CNH INDUSTRIAL, INTESA SAN PAOLO, MARS INC.
- Media Partners: EURACTIV.IT, FRANCE MÉDIAS MONDE, L’HUFFINGTON POST
This first appearance of the Women’s Forum in Italy also provides an opportunity to draw Italy’s corporate culture into the frame. The support and involvement of the Women’s Forum’s two co-organizers for the event, Valore D and WE-Women for Expo, ensure that our discussions will reveal some interesting insights on women’s leadership.
Valore D (valore is Italian for value and the "d" stands for donne, or women) is the first association of large companies formed in Italy in order to support women’s leadership in the corporate sphere. The association got under way in 2009 when 11 Italian female managers joined forces. Their idea: to use creative management-training techniques to remove barriers preventing women from attaining leadership positions. From those initial 11 companies, Valore D’s membership today includes some 125 major corporations, and activities focus on five areas: mentorship, skill-building, role-modelling, social innovation, and work-life balance.
According to Valore D, the representation of women in Italian companies has been characterized by a wide presence in the middle and lower levels of management and a rather low representation of women at the highest levels (in 2011 women on boards of directors in Italy were only 6.8%).
WE-Women for Expo is an historic undertaking that places women’s culture at the heart of Expo Milano 2015. Organised in cooperation with Italy’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and the Arnoldo and Alberto Mondadori Foundation, WE-Women for Expo is the first such female-centric initiative in more than 150 years of Universal Expositions. The specific focus of WE-Women for Expo is nutrition and sustainability. According to the mission statement for We-Women for Expo: “Our conviction is that global sustainability will be achieved through a new alliance between food and culture, and that the creators of this new approach and new pact for the future will be women.”
Following the 29-30 June sessions at Women’s Forum Italy, the Women’s Weeks series will continue until 15 July, as women from participating countries at Expo Milano speak about “nurturing the body, and nurturing freedom and intelligence”.