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2007 Global Summit of Women

An experience like no other,1000 women from 95 countries gathered in Berlin. The outcome of this memorable event.
2007 Global Summit of Women

The Choir from The Philippines sings the closing of the Global Summit of Women 2007 in Berlin







At no time in its 17 year history has the Global Summit of Women seen such a wide representation as it did in Berlin on June 14-16th, when 1000 women from 95 countries converged on Germany’s capital for three days of strategy-sharing, networking, and simply empowering experiences that kept the participants energized, enthusiastic and engaged throughout.  From the rousing opening by Germany’s Minister of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women, and Youth Ursula von der Leyen to the Closing Ceremony when Vietnam’s Vice President Truong My Hoa announced Vietnam as the 2008 Host Country, the 2007 Summit was marked by a spirit of ‘can-do’ in its continuing focus on accelerating women’s economic progress worldwide through exchanges of best practices.

The Summit’s theme of the 21st Century Marketplace:  Challenges and Opportunities was epitomized at the outset by emerging leadership such as Ruth de Golia, a 25-year-old social entrepreneur who co-founded Mercado Global, a U.S. business that provides a market for Guatemalan crafts that is now approaching US$1 million in gross revenues.  Following the renowned Girls’ Choir of Hanover, de Golia opened the Summit, signifying her generation’s impact in the coming decades.  For the first time, the Summit scheduled a Youth Forum, wherein successful women entrepreneurs and corporate executives faced a young audience and shared their various paths to achievement.  At the Summit’s close, President Irene Natividad announced that the Youth Forum would now be a permanent component of future programs “so that we can provide tap the Summit’s vast arsenal of global female talent and share these role models with young leadership worldwide.”

A major 21st century reality of an increasingly diverse workforce characterizing a global economy was seen by a panel of experts as an ‘opportunity’, which must be tapped in order to remain competitive.  Pfizer President for European Operations Pedro Lichtinger, Deutsche Telekom SVP and Chief Diversity Officer Maud Pagel and Microsoft VP Ali Furamawy conveyed the complexity of defining ‘diversity’ within different regions of the world.

Another 21st century marketplace issue – how to deal with chronic global problems of environmental challenges, poverty and healthcare – was tackled at a session on Corporate Social Responsibility.  Office Depot VP Sabine Zwinscher, Digene Inc. CEO Daryl Faulkner, GE France President Clara Gaymard and Deutsche Poste WorldNet MD for Social Responsibility Monika Wulf-Mathies provided examples of how corporations are addressing these issues by integrating them into their companies’ business strategies as opposed to viewing them through the narrow lens of charity.  This theme was echoed at a session in which women government ministers shared best practices of public/private sector partnerships business collaborated with government agencies on projects advancing women.  Whether from corporate or political leaders, all agreed that such collaborations are necessary to create lasting economic change for women and girls.

Since the Summit was hosted by a European country, information on the major players in that market – women – was provided through a groundbreaking report by McKinsey & Company Director Claudia Funke and head of the Berlin office, Katrin Suder.  What values propel women in the region was explored in a report by market research firm, GfK Roper, through its two researchers, Heike Langner and Katherine Passerieu.  As always, Summit exchanges took place for the most part in the sessions on Leadership, Microenterprise, and Entrepreneurial Development as well as Issues faced by women worldwide.  Many of the presentations on the topics covered in each of these tracks are now available online at, click to ‘Global Summit of Women.



Fifty women government ministers of varied portfolios ranging from finance to trade to environmental affairs met in a pre-Summit Roundtable for day long exchanges of Public/Private Sector Partnerships Advancing Women’s Economic Opportunities.  Corporate and government leaders led the day with examples of successful collaborations in diverse areas affecting women and girls’ welfare.

The ministers then chose three best practices which merited special recognition at the Summit plenary.  Tanzania’s Minister for Justice and Constitutional Law Mary M. Nagu presented a Women Entrepreneurship Support Program, where the private sector partner was the Export-Import Bank and IFC.  From Europe, Georgia’s Deputy Minister of Education and Science shared her country’s effort to computerize Georgian schools’ equipment and curriculum, a project in which technology companies such as Telenet Caucasus are a partner.  Lastly, South Africa’s Deputy Minister for Environmental Affairs and Tourism Rejoice Mabudhafasi presented a unique program involving Conservation of Indigenous Medicinal Plants, which provides women in a certain region with new sources of livelihood while preserving South Africa’s wealth of medicinal plants.  Business partners include Oils of Africa and Eskom corporation.  All three projects were each awarded US$5,000 mini-grants at the Summit through funds provided by Microsoft, Cisco and IBM.


Corporate Women Directors International – an off-shoot of the Global Summit of Women released its 11th report in ten years on women serving on the boards of the 200 largest companies in the world (as ranked by Fortune magazine in 2006 based on gross revenues) at the Berlin Summit.  What the report found is that glass ceiling in corporate board appointments in the largest global companies remains in place.  Only 11.2% of board seats in the Fortune Global 200 Companies are held by women.  The good news, however, is that a larger number of these companies now have at least one woman on their boards – 77.5%, an increase of 4% since 2004.

            Two European companies lead the Top Ten List of Companies with the Highest Percentage of Women Directors.  A Dutch company, Royal Ahold has a female dominated board with four of its seven-member board being female. Coming in second place is a Norwegian energy company, Statoil, which has an equally divided board that is 50% female and 50% male.

            Overall, the largest U.S. companies on the Fortune Global 200 listing did best in appointing women to board seats, with 17.6% female representation as directors.  At the other end of the spectrum, Japan, the second largest economy in the world, only has five women directors, one each in five companies out of its 27 largest or 1.3%.  “These numbers clearly do not reflect the important role that women have as stakeholders in many companies as workers, consumers, entrepreneurs and investors who can impact on these companies’ future profitability,” states CWDI Co-Chair Irene Natividad.


For the first time in its history, the Global Summit of Women launched a major
initiative at the close of the 2007 global gathering – the Global Consortium to End Cervical Cancer.  “This may seem an unusual commitment from a business Summit, but women’s and girls’ economic participation hinge on healthy bodies, and we have the opportunity to leave a legacy of a cervical cancer-free world to future generations,” stated Summit President Irene Natividad.  Given the availability of testing and new vaccines to prevent and treat this cancer which only afflicts women, the Summit will engage its vast international network of women’s organizations in a public information campaign to inform women on the interventions now available for the first time.

     Joining the Summit in this endeavor are the International Federation of Business and Professional Women, the European Women in Management Development and the International Association for Human Values, whose leaders expressed in Berlin their intent to use their websites, newsletters and conferences to engage their membership worldwide in this initiative.