Global Summit of Women

Female business elite in Basel

Women’s success in business has to be redefined. And it is this undertaking that the 26th Global Summit of Women 2019 is dedicated to in July. The 1000 or so participants include several female state presidents and business leaders.

Stage Design Congress Center Basel
Irene Natividad, President of the Global Summit of Women

For many years now, the Canton of Basel-Stadt has worked hand-in-hand with the Congress Center Basel (CCB) to acquire congresses with an international reach. And they have been successful: the numerous new international formats with illustrious participants include the OSCE Ministerial Council in 2014 and the Ambassadors and International Network Conference in 2018. The economic summit “Global Summit of Women 2019” which is being held in Basel from 4 to 6 July also comes in this category. No fewer than 1000 participants from 70 countries are expected to attend. A translation service into eight languages will ensure efficient communication.

Since the first Global Summit in 1990, the role of women in business has undergone a dramatic change. And further progress in this respect constitutes the central focus of the Global Summit of Women. The summit brings together women from politics, business, the non-profit sector and the public sector. Together they pursue a vision of improving the economic opportunities for women around the globe.

“Success means, among other things, reconciling work in the company with work at home”

An interview with Irene Natividad, founder and president of the Global Summit of Women:

CCB: This year's Global Summit of Women is entitled "Redefining Success". What are we to understand by this?

Irene Natividad: For many women, 'success' means having the same employment opportunities as men and being paid the same rate. Worldwide, there is no country, including Switzerland, where there is no pay gap between male and female workers.

For many women, success also means being able to integrate work at home and work at work. Success also means being treated as an equal. The #MeToo movement has shown that there continues to be an unequal power sharing between women and men at work. Otherwise, workplace harassment and abuse wouldn't happen. Discriminations, often based on old cultural stereotypes, plague women worldwide.
Our summit is not, however, about the challenges but much more about solutions from governments, business and society. The focus of the Basel Summit in 2019, as it has been for 29 years, is on the strategies that participants can take to their home countries, their places of work and perhaps replicate them within their specific cultural contexts.

What were the reasons why you chose Basel and its Congress Center this year?

Basel is both an artistic and a business centre. ArtBasel has placed the city on the global cultural map. Less well known, by contrast, is the fact that major companies in the pharma, biotech and healthcare industries are centred here. For a business/economic forum like the Global Summit of Women, the latter was an important consideration. The varied cultural offerings are also a key plus point. Many Summit delegates are planning to stay in Basel for a few days before or after the actual Summit.

In terms of logistics, it is ideal that the Congress Center, the hotels and numerous restaurants and shops can be reached on foot. After all, 1000 women – and a number of men – are meeting up here and also require accommodation.

Frankly, it was former Swiss President Doris Leuthard who suggested that I look into Basel precisely because of the logistical requirements.

What are the special characteristics of the "Global Summit of Women"?

Over the years that I've been organizing the Summit, I have found that banquet seating for the plenary, as opposed to auditorium seating, is the most effective arrangement in promoting networking. The Congress Centre has sufficient space to have that kind of setup for the Summit's plenary sessions. It also helps to have a permanent stage in the San Francisco room that enables participants to see the speakers better.

I also liked the translation booths being installed higher as it freed up floor space, plus I didn't have to worry about delegates tripping over thick wires, as has happened at times in other locations. Overall, the Centre's staff has been gracious and accommodating of our needs.