Inspiring Women: an International Women's Day discussion
Women’s rights are human rights, and human rights are women’s rights.Hillary Rodham Clinton speaking in 1995 at the Women & Health Security Colloquium during the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing which saw 189 nations unanimously adopt the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action
Monday, 8 March 2021
It is 25 years since 189 countries adopted the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, a set of commitments to promote women's equality, at the historic UN conference in Beijing. On International Women's Day, College President Carma Elliot hosted three inspiring women for a panel discussion on Beijing plus 25.
Opened with a message of support from Board Chair and DEI ally, Madan Menon, three inspiring women from the UWCSEA community joined the discussion:
- Her Excellency, Margriet Vonno, Ambassador of the Netherlands to Singapore and Brunei, who, as a young diplomat, prepared her country's delegation for the Beijing conference, and now as an Ambassador is strongly promoting equity and women's rights.
- Caroline McLaughlin, Chief Partnerships Officer at the Asian Venture Philanthropy Network (AVPN) and a UWCSEA Governor, who spoke about the importance of different perspectives and gender diversity on boards and in the College.
- Dr Ayesha Khanna, Co-Founder and CEO of ADDO AI , who spoke on how we can 'build back better' and the role of technology in promoting a more inclusive engagement for women and girls, post-COVID-19
In a wide ranging discussion on women’s equality, the panellists tackled questions posed by UWCSEA students, staff and parents, highlighting some of their own observations to provide wisdom to the next generation.
Her Excellency, Margriet Vonno
In August 2017 Margriet was appointed Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Singapore and Brunei.
She studied International Relations at Utrecht University, and holds an MBA from the Rotterdam School of Management. In 1990 she started her career at the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs and held various positions in New York, Washington DC, Brussels and The Hague. Before becoming Netherlands Ambassador in Singapore she was Director at the Strategy and Policy Advice Department at the Netherlands Ministry for Infrastructure and the Environment from 2014–2017 and Deputy Director of the Europe Department at the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 2011–2014.
Margriet was member of the advisory board of Velocity, the international cycling conference that was held in the Netherlands in June 2017. She is also a board member of the Dutch Association of Public Management. She is married to Martin Vonno and they have one daughter, Leda.
Chief Partnerships Officer at Asian Venture Philanthropy Network (AVPN) and a UWCSEA Governor, will speak about the importance of different perspectives and gender diversity. Caroline sits on the UWCSEA Board DEI Steering Group.
A passionate believer in the role of networks and partnerships to make a difference in creating impact, at AVPN, Caroline has been working for the last five years towards building a vibrant social investment and philanthropy ecosystem across Asia. Prior to AVPN and Singapore, she spent over 15 years creating and managing networks across five countries, and has lived and worked in Sydney, Vienna, London, Istanbul, Dubai and Atlanta. Whilst in Atlanta, she was one of the founders of the Ribbons of Hope Invest In Women Foundation, which supports women and girls’ organisations.
Dr Ayesha Khanna
Dr. Ayesha Khanna is Co-Founder and CEO of ADDO AI, an artificial intelligence (AI) solutions firm and incubator. She has been a strategic advisor on artificial intelligence, smart cities and fintech to leading corporations and governments. Ayesha serves on the Board of Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), the Singapore government's agency that develops and regulates its world-class technology sector to drive the country's digital economy and power its Smart Nation vision. Ayesha is also a member of the World Economic Forum's Global Future Councils, a community of international experts who provide thought leadership on the impact and governance of emerging technologies like artificial intelligence.
Ayesha is also the Founder of 21C GIRLS, a charity that delivers free coding and artificial intelligence classes to girls in Singapore. Programs that 21C Girls has partnered in include Code in the Community, a program sponsored by Google and that has taught thousands of children (8 - 14yrs) coding, and Empower, which has partnered with Ngee Ann Polytechnic to teach girls (18 - 24yrs) the basics of artificial intelligence.