Davos 2020: Inspiring Leadership of Women and Girls despite their Discriminatory Low Participation

The World Economic Forum (WEF), taking place in the Swiss city of Davos on the 21st-24th January 2020, once again reaffirmed a lack of gender balance in its attendees’ list: only 682 (24%) out of the 2820 participants were female.

Though there was a slight improvement in women’s participation when comparing the numbers from last year (22% in 2019), the perpetuation of such low percentages of female attendance underlines the need for better gender inclusivity efforts in bringing women at a table during high-level international discussions. However, some of the most influential female leaders attending the event sparked and inspired discussions on sustainability and climate change: including, 17-year-old activist, Greta Thunberg; German chancellor, Angela Merkel; the newest president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen; Finnish Prime Minister, Sanna Marin.

Greta Thunberg spoke up on the first day of the event, stating the importance of this year’s main theme: Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World. Her eloquent speech underlines the fact that her "… generation will not give up without a fight", because " […] our house is still on fire. Your inaction is fueling the flames by the hour". The 17-year-old’s harsh words towards the world’s leaders gathered at the conference caught the attention of US president Trump, who stated that "The perennial prophets of doom" with "predictions of apocalypse" must be ignored, while calling them – without mentioning Thunberg directly - "the heirs of yesterday's foolish fortune tellers".