President Dalia Grybauskaitė opened the Women Political Leaders Global Forum “It’s about time! 100 reasons to act!” In Lithuania, it is the largest event of this type that has gathered more than 300 female leaders in politics, business and international organizations from over 90 countries.
President of Malta Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, former President of Latvia Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga, former Prime Minister of Latvia Laimdota Straujuma, Princess Marie-Esméralda of Belgium, Vice Presidents of Panama and Iran also attend the summit.
In her address to the women wolrd leaders, the President underscored that Lithuania, which granted women the right to vote one hundred years ago, had addressed gender equality issues through established legal regulation. This demonstrates that Lithuania respects women. However, 150 states in the world still have laws that discriminate against women. At the current pace, global gender gap will take at least another 100 years to close.
To this end, the President urged women leaders to concentrate effort and pursue faster progress in their own countries and at the global scale. It is necessary to regain the time lost in addressing such ingrained problems as pay gap and in ensuring equal opportunities in business, state governance and public life. Although the Lithuanian legislation provide women with the possibility to receive equal pay for equal work and equal quality of work, there is still a pay gap that has to be bridged. The World Economic Forum stated that gender parity in the labor market alone could add 28 trillion dollars to the global economy by 2025.
The President also drew attention to the necessity to further the effort in stopping violence against women. The global and national MeToo wave obliges states, businesses and society to have the environment of zero tolerance to violence and sexual harassment. In Lithuania, the Law on Protection Against Domestic Violence, initiated by the President, has been in force since 2011. The campaign “For A Safe Lithuania”, launched by the President, helps women victims of violence to regain balance via mentoring and education projects that lead to financial independence and escape from the circle of violence.
The President has also urged to fight against the stereotypes related to “male” and “female” professions and encourage women to pursue careers in science and innovations. Currently, women hold only 17 percent of positions in IT sector in the European Union. Ways to employ technological progress for enhancing gender equality is one of the key topics of the summit.
During the opening session of the Women Political Leaders Summit, former President of Latvia Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga, former Prime Minister of Latvia Laimdota Straujuma, former Prime Ministers of São Tomé and Príncipe Maria das Neves and Maria do Carmo Silveira received awards to acknowledge their merits in promoting active role of women in politics. President Dalia Grybauskatė received the award last year.
During the Summit, the women leaders will meet with 50 girls from Lithuania and abroad. The global Girl2leader initiative is aimed at encouraging young people to be more active in engaging themselves in social activity as well as in pursuing careers in politics.
In the spirit of the WPL Summit, Martynas Mažvydas National Library of Lithuania hosts publicly open events: different discussions, a workshop of creative technologies and a viewing a documentary film “Solidarity According to Women”.
The high-level event under the patronage of Dalia Grybauskaitė is held when Lithuania celebrates a Centennial of the Restoration of the State and 100 years anniversary when Lithuanian women, among the first in Europe, gained the right to vote. The International Women Political Leaders Summit is co-hosted by the Seimas of Lithuania and the Women Political Leaders Global Forum in cooperation with the Council of Women World Leaders. Dalia Grybauskaitė has been chairing the Council that unites more than 60 former and incumbent heads of state and government since 2014.