Over 600 participants are expected to attend the Conference of Francophone Women taking place Wednesday and Thursday in Bucharest under the logo “Creativity, Innovation, Entrepreneurship, Growth and Development: Women Assert Themselves!” The conference brings together officials from 48 French-speaking countries to debate subjects related to women’s rights and access to the labor market, their contribution to innovation and entrepreneurship, women’s leadership in economic governance structures, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs says in a release.
Secretary General of La Francophonie Michaelle Jean, Mauritius President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, ministers and other dignitaries, leaders of organizations active in business and the promotion of gender equality, businesswomen from more than 30 states will be attending. Nobel Peace Prize winner Ouided Bouchamaoui, president of the Tunisian Union of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts, will also grace the meeting.
The conference will provide women entrepreneurs and civil society representatives engaged in economic, cultural and social activities with a framework for the exchange of information and best practices in areas that are key to ensuring sustainable economic growth and development. The meeting is aimed at setting up, in a first, a Francophone network of women entrepreneurs.
The participants in the conference will also enjoy some entertainment with a dedicated program featuring a fragment of the “National Magic” show directed by Ion Caramitru.
The conclusions of the conference hosted by Bucharest will contribute to the adoption of a Strategy of La Francophonie for Equality between Women and Men, a document that will be discussed at the 2018 La Francophonie Summit, the Foreign Ministry reports.
“Romania, a standard bearer of La Francophonie in the region”
Romania’s President Klaus Iohannis said on Wednesday that although important progress has been made in Romania in terms of gender equality, the country needs to speed up bridging the gaps.
“I firmly believe that equality between women and men is a pillar of the future-oriented society, for which all of us have the duty to act every day. (…) Romania has already taken important steps for the commitment that we have pledged to set up the new profession of equal opportunities expert. Although important progress has been made in Romania to meet the objectives of equality, we are aware of the need to speed up the gap bridging, first of all by changing mentalities and also by an integrated and multidimensional approach of policies in the area, including supporting female entrepreneurs,” Iohannis told the Conference of Francophone Women in Bucharest, an event organized on November 1 and 2 under the High Patronage of the Romanian President, by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in cooperation with the International Organization of the Francophonie and the National Agency for Equal Chances.
He added that, by organising the conference, the capital of Romania is a “genuine international agora of equal opportunities.”
“A standard bearer of La Francophonie in the region, Romania considers that the International Organisation of La Francophonie has the vision and determination to get engaged alongside the international partners in the challenges of gender equality,” said Iohannis.
According to him, women working in business, research and development, those who become entrepreneurs and those who want to start up businesses are models for the younger generation, but they face a number of serious problems.
“They have difficult access to funding resources and feel the lack of professional support networks. Their presence is much lower in decision-making and managerial positions than men’s. Last but not least, women are victims of stereotypes and prejudices related to their roles and abilities in the family, economy, but also in society,” said Iohannis.
The head of state welcomed the proposal to launch a network of French female entrepreneurship.
He added that Romania supports the adoption of the La Francophonie Strategy of Gender Equality at the future of Summit of La Francophonie in 2018, showing that this is a concrete contribution to the universalisation of fundamental human rights.
He pointed out that since its Greater Union, Romania has provided a number of important female personalities for politics, culture, science, education and sports.
“It is our duty to honour this valuable contribution, making gender equality one of the great achievements of the world, a precious legacy for generations to come,” said Iohannis.
Among the attendees of the Conference of Francophone Women were Secretary General of La Francophonie Michaelle Jean, and President of Mauritius Ameenah Gurib-Fakim.
OIF Secretary General Michaelle Jean: Romania is a very committed member of La Francophonie
Romania is a very committed member of La Francophonie, the Secretary General of the International Organization of La Francophonie (OIF), Michaelle Jean, stated on Tuesday evening.
“Romania plays a very important role in the Organization. It is a very committed member. Romania insisted on organising this conference (Conference of Francophone Women – editor’s note),” Michaelle Jean told Agerpres.
She unveiled the fact that last year, on the occasion of her official visit to Romania, President Klaus Iohannis promised her that he will do everything possible to have this event organised in Bucharest.
Moreover, Michaelle Jean said that “Romania wants to revitalize its connections with the African countries, through exchanges and economic agreements.”
She also hailed the presence of the many businesswomen at the conference in the Romanian capital.
“Bucharest has never seen so many Francophone businesswomen and their energy is very present. And this happens because we are between 400 and 450 businesswomen in the Francophone space. We want to celebrate women’s courage, their achievements in the business world, their contribution to the development of economy in various sectors. We hope that in the end we will have a very strong statement and that, at the end of the conference, we will be able to create a network of Francophone businesswomen,” said the OIF Secretary General.
Michaelle Jean noticed the manner in which Romania succeeded in becoming “a bright country, opened to the world.” “When I talk about Bucharest, I call it “the magnificent,” she said.
OIF Secretary General Michaelle Jean on Tuesday evening participated in the official opening of the Francophone Film Festival at the Romanian Cultural Institute headquarters, an event taking place over October 31 – November 2, on the occasion of the International Conference of Francophone Women in Bucharest.
The Festival also included the “Women/Femmes” exhibition of French photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand, who traveled through 60 countries to capture portraits of women and the animation film “Aya de Yopougon,” made by Marguerite Abouet and Clément Oubrerie in 2013.
PM Tudose: Society needs to understand the very important role of women
Romania’s Prime Minister Mihai Tudose on Wednesday sent a message to the Conference of Francophone Women in Bucharest pointing out that society needs to understand the very important role women play.
“Romania has made a significant breakthrough. (…) However, it is facing vulnerability, but it is on the right track to provide the best conditions. The society needs to understand the very important role of women. Mariana Gheorghe – first lady manager of Petrom – and the director of the Catena [pharmaceuticals] company represent two important companies in the Romanian society and economy, and I fully agree with the idea that the future of La Francophonie and the Francophone Economic Space cannot be imagined without taking into account the role of women. Romania also have two female ministers – Carmen Dan, the interior minister, and Lia Olguta Vasilescu, the labour minister; in addition, the Social Democratic Party (PSD ) gave the first female general mayor of Bucharest and recommended Corina Cretu to a seat at the European Parliament. Women must have power, regardless of society and the role of society,” Tudose said in his message delivered to the conference by Gabriel Andronache – a state adviser with the Prime Minister’s working team.
Tudose also said that Labour Minister Lia Olguta Vasilescu launched a public debate on the promotion of equal opportunities for men and women, the prevention of, and the fight against domestic violence for in 2018-2021.
“The history of Romania is deeply marked by the Francophone elements. Gender equality is a priority in our government programme, paying political attention to support for women,” Tudose said in his message.