All posts by Desirée Bela-Lobedde

A big thank you!

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It’s been a few days since our big event took place in Casino l’Aliança del Poble Nou and, on behalf of the whole team of TEDx Women Barcelona volunteers, ​​we want to say “Thank you!”.

Thank you for making the event from last 10th of June so special and emotional; without your participation, the event would not have been possible.

Thanks also to those who attended Walkiria Hub Space to see the event in livestreaming.

Thanks, of course, to the sponsors, patrons and media partners, without you the event would not have been possible either.

And thanks to everyone for the dissemination, support and comments through all our social networks.

We also want to thank you for having supported and followed our blog throughout the season. For those who could not attend or those who want to remember it,  we can announce that, in short, from the TEDx Women Barcelona blog ​​we will tell you everything that we lived in the Casino L’Aliança through a chronicle of the event.

So, stay on line, because we will soon be back again; although the event is over, the TEDx Women Barcelona blog will remain active, and we’ll be sharing news, projects and interesting information about gender equality.

Let’s shift the balance!



We are sold out!

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TEDxBarcelonaWomen is bigger than ever this year and it’s sold out! The event on the 10th of June which will be held at the Casino de Poblenou from 10.00h to 20.00h, is going to be full of high profile speakers who will share their view on gender and shifting the balance. For those who missed the chance of getting their ticket, there will be livestreaming of the event which you can book for free on this site. Read More

Europe’s V Day

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May is an important month for Europe. A day in May back in 1945, the great war that had the whole world involved and put Europe at stake, came to an end. This year, seven decades later, the whole world remembers that date that changed the course of history. Read More

Women, empower yourself

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According to the Oxford English Dictionary, some definitions of power are:

  1. The ability or capacity to do something or act in a particular way;
  2. The capacity or ability to direct or influence the behavior of others or the course of events.

Historically, women have been suppressed in practically every aspect of their life. Being currently the 50% of the population, it is a very hard to understand and assume this fact. Why can’t we be equals? Why should women be suppressed and minimized? Read More

Do we, women, dedice?

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It is worth investing in women; not only because we are half of the talent, but also because diversity benefits businesses. It has been shown that policies of inclusion of diversity in organizations tend to reduce conflicts, generate creativity and innovation and improve corporate performance. Moreover, women-led businesses get a 35% higher return on investment and are 12% more profitable than those led by men only. Read More

Women in elite sports

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Gradually, women are making headway in elite sports, competing in Olympic circuits, forming teams and obtaining national team gold medals. This is not only a professional development for them, but it also represents a major shift in gender equality. In sports that require much technical and physical excellence like sailing, women are getting equaling male categories. In the sailing competition Trofeo SAR Princesa Sofia that takes place from March 28 to April 4 in Mallorca, there’s several women’s categories and teams competing. There’s already five female categories in the competition, which is part of the Olympic classification: 470 Women, double Olympic class with light boat of three sails; FX 49er category, double class 49er boat for women, it will be Olympic for the first time at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro 2016; Laser Radial, single female class with a single mainsail; RSX, female Olympic windsurfing category; and the women’s kitesurf, this not being an Olympic class. Read More

Smart time for equity

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Smart time

The working schedule reform is an issue of the day in the Spanish State. And this is so because the full-job days interrupted by endless lunchs and the long hours of work to beyond 7 and 8 pm are still very common in Spanish companies. There are many initiatives that claim for a time rationalization in our country, with a more reasonable working time compatible with private and family life. Read More

Women and their power to change the world

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Among the different causes that women of different societies have pronounce themselves are gender discrimination  – socially, professionally and in the families, feminicide, the downgrade of the female figure in the artistic scenes, abuses caused by religion, rape and domestic violence, which is manifested verbally, physically, morally and economically. Read More

Women story-tellers

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For centuries, history has been written by men. They wrote the manuscripts narrating battles to conquer kingdoms, they told about the adventures of explorers, and it was they who wrote the guidelines for a news report or broadcast that would explain what was happening daily . But after these many centuries, it is time to shift the balance. Read More

Men do make a difference for Women

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For centuries, different societies worldwide have shared a similar vision on the genders’ roles. For her, among her main roles there would be: aspiring to get married and having children. Focusing on being a staying-home-mom, who manages to cook, clean, raise the children -many times all alone, and make her husband happy. As for him, among his main priorities would be: have a job, be successful, provide, and be the “head” of the family. Read More

Between the war and the management of media

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Information has always been a powerful weapon for nations. In fact, journalism, which by nature seeks to communicate the information, is the fourth State’s power. The other three, the Executive, the Legislative and Judicial, have a strong male tradition, but the fourth power, even that is strongly dominated by the above mentioned, has a more neutral tradition when it comes to gender.

Journalism is a profession that has attracted equally both, men and women. Being such a broad field, it is not surprising that according to the scope, the gap between men and women is more or less wider. However, we must highlight that the media keeps being part of big companies who aim to produce money; therefore, we continue to also find many of the inequities that are part of many other industries.

In a field as conflictive journalism, the gap between men and women is even wider, having many more men in this profession. Historically, they have been associated as the correspondents of war, as well as all kind of social and war conflicts. But, among the men that cover some of the worst atrocities that happen in the world, women are also gaining participation.

Mayte Carrasco, war reporter who has covered conflicts such as the war in Georgia in 2008, the war in Afghanistan, conflicts in the Caucasus, Mali, the Arab revolutions and most recently, the revolts in Syria, claims to have been the only women among the journalists in the latest conflict. In the Arab countries, she states that things that distinguish her from men is having to use a hijab, but besides that, and the tradition to no eye contact or shaking hands with other women, many Taliban leaders have treated her like as the professional she is. According to the journalist, “the difficulties are found here, when we’re back” because “there is more discrimination here; they invite us to talk about ≪female reporter in conflictive zone≫ or the rape of women in Africa. But, why is this happening? Can’t we speak about the war in Syria?”, and she reiterates that in Spain, unlike England or France, “there is still sexism in the newsroom”.

In Spain newsrooms, the directive is still predominated by men. The number of women with the position of chief editor or director is increasing little by little, but the tradition, as in many companies, is still sexist. Same situation is happening worldwide, being that only one of the 25 most important world’s capital is led by a woman.  Not the case in Bulgaria, where the journalism and especially the directives of the news media, is often run by women. Unfortunately, the reason of this is that this profession has never been taken too seriously. Under a communist government, the press was censored and the jobs in this field were very precarious.

Thus when it is the fourth power, when it comes to a prestigious profession with a significant influence, the roles in the directive are hardly achievable for women. Also in this companies some risks should be taken, they must go in front of men and “sell them the story” to prove that, just like her war reports are equally worthy as his, there are also women with what it takes to direct media and possibly able to give them a added value.

Image source

New year… new TEDx Barcelona Women event

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In this last post of the year we want to felicitate all our followers and wish you Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. We feel so grateful for your support and feedback in last months. But above all, we want to remind you that in 2015 we have a new TEDxBarcelona Women event, June 10th, so save the date in your brand new calendar of the new year.

We will keep you posted!

The blog will be closed for vacation until January 7th; we hope to see you around when we come back!

Happy 2015!

Merry Christmas

When playing is sexist

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To end with gender inequality in our society we have to start promoting a non-sexist approach to education in early childhood. However, we only need to have a look at toys catalogues, so common in our houses these days, to notice that even in early infancy there is a sexist bias in those toys we buy for children.

However, it seems that the number of initiatives to end with sexist toys is increasing: one of them has been carried out by the toy store Toy Planet, which has published a Christmas catalogue in which, with a very visual example, boys push strollers and girls play with trucks. Last year this company noticed that families really wanted to move forward from stereotypical toys.

And indeed, this year the company has decided to break away from gender stereotypes and show, for instance, boys with babies and kitchens and girls pushing trucks and riding motorcycles. It has only been done with toys from their own brand, since the rest of brands send pictures already designed for their catalogues. The product has immediately been very positively welcomed as the pictures of the catalogue shared in facebook have been shared twice as compared to other years and the number of  “likes” has notably increased as well, as reported by the company directives. The initiative has also being very appreciated by the owners of the more than 200 stores the chain has in Spain, who have also received congratulations from their clients.

And it seems that the toy sector is aware that playing girls’ and boys’ roles is a trend that has been fading for years. For instance, toy kitchens are nowadays an unisex product for many toy producers because it is an imitation game and as nowadays both fathers and mothers cook, the number of boys asking for this toy is increasing. There are also studies showing how the number of girls who like superheroes is increasing as well.

In fact, there have been initiatives claiming for not sexist toys for years now. In countries as the United Kingdom, thanks to organizations as Let Toys Be Toys, more and more British toyshops and malls no longer segregate between toys “for boys” and “for girls”.

In Catalonia, the Catalan Institute for Women, has launched an awareness campaign “Juga per la igualtat” (Play for equity), which promotes the transmission of values to boys and girls, as equity of opportunities between men and women, through games, which is aimed to educate children in the recognition of the differences and mutual respect.

But fighting against stereotypes is difficult; for instance Playmobil, during the last football World Cup in 2010 was planning to bring to Spain a box with the women’s football team but met with opposition from toy stores, which were still seeing football as a “boys’ thing”. This was however not only happening in the stores, because the online offer had no success. It seems that even if society is demanding the industry to adapt themselves to equalitarian values, it is not responding to it anyways.

So, if those initiatives to avoid clichés in toys are so well welcomed, why is Santa still bringing to most of homes dolls for girls and cars for boys?

Image source: Toy Planet on Facebook.

A game of men and women for equity

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equity at sports

In the field, on the court, on the track, the distance between men and women becomes larger. We hear about gender inequality in professional or family environments but often forget that there is also an important gap in the field of  sport. Whether football, basketball, surfing, sailing or tennis, the challenge presented to women is twofold: to compete and to overcome the hurdles of gender inequality.

Spain is one of the countries with the greatest football tradition. In fact, it is a great engine of the country that moves masses and also a lot of money. Fans of this sport fill stadiums with every game; acquiring tickets reaching rocket high prices when it comes to one of the renowned leagues played each year. The signings of players are becoming more expensive and the numbers are in the hundreds of millions of euros. Some teams have made it easy for companies billing millions a year through the sale of corporate products for the undisputed fans who want a shirt or scarf in the colors of their favorite team. But when it comes to this hobby, this industry that gets such good results, we always refer to a sector: the men’s game.

This year, the Spanish women’s football team managed to qualify for the World Cup and will also have the opportunity to compete in the Olympic Games in Canada between June 6 and July 5, 2015. This classification seems to be the light at end of tunnel as it hopes to break with tradition that prevails in our country in terms of women’s sports: scarce public, little media presence, absence of sponsors and above all, little investment.

In an interview to El País, Mari Mar Prieto, leader of the Spanish football team that reached the semi-finals of Euro 1997, explains that for her, football meant an economic loss: “Iwas losing money. I reached agreements with the company to pay Social Security when I did not come to work.””We did not charge” the former footbal player explains, “We paid to play. You put the car, the physiotherapist if you get hurt … “

The comparison is simple and clear. According to the report, in the men’s game “First stadiums received 9.6 million last season, in the transfer market this summer clubs spent 471.7 million euros, despite debt teams first and second with Treasury amounted to 479.8 million, and televisions pay 800 million per season. “In contrast, in women’s football, everything changes and no one fights for the retransmission of their games. As if that were not enough, only GolTelevision retransmits. And in stadiums, low influx: between two and three hundred people except for Champions League match, where they reach the thousand spectators.

But not only in the field of football. Also on the tennis or paddle the comparison is inevitable. Martita Ortega, paddle tennis champion explains as on the track there is a huge inequality but she says that this is because “people try to compare” but she adds that “female and male paddle, for example, can not be compared. They are different sports, really play with the same, a paddle and a ball, but are different ways of practicing the same sport and perhaps closer to female.“.

As stated by Maitane López Millán, First Division Spanish football player, that “may be the same in Spanish sport, society would have to give a huge mindset change, since in this aspect it remains a patriarchal society”. This requires hard work but slowly, competition by competition, trophy by trophy, it will be achieved.

Image source: Vysa.

What happens with feminine ambition?

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Ambitious women

It seems that women start their professional career with high expectations and goals of development, however, this confidence vanishes as they advance in their profession, according to the data provided by an study of Bain & Company, Everyday Moments of Truth (, made between 1.000 men and women of a wide range of ages and professions. This study revealed that almost half of the new female employees aspire to a managing position; however, after 5 years only the 16% keeps the ambition, compared to the 34% of the men who still maintain their goal after two or more years of professional experience.

Therefore, the aspirations for the managing positions drop more than a 60% among women as they advance in their profession. The 43% of the new female employees have as a goal the high direction, but only the 16% of women with 2-5 years of professional experience aims it.

In other hand, the confidence of men stays the same as they advance in their professional career. Even that both, men and women increased their confidence and ambition to direction positions when they reach a senior level, this trend is more pronounced in men. More than half of the men in the senior level, compared to a third of the women in the same level, feel that a higher position is achievable.

The widespread belief that marriage or founding a family are the reasons that make women to place their profession in a lower priority seems not to be the main reason. The study revealed that the marital status did not differ significantly between women who aspire to grow in their profession and those who don’t. The key reason is that women lack of recognition and support from their bosses during the middle of their career, which is exactly when professional goals are met and the confidence is built.

According to the report by Bain, there are three areas where women, in the middle of their professional career, encounter with negative experiences and perceptions that forced the stop of the development of their aspirations. First, there is a lack of connection with the ideal worker stereotype, an ambitious guy, always “connected to the job”, who progress quickly in his career. Secondly, there is the lack of support that women get from their directors in the middle of their careers. The third is the lack of feminine role models to follow in the managing positions.

Being this the case it is suggested that the direction committee should put its efforts in promoting the gender equality especially during the period of formation of the employees. The supervisors could play an important role in the support of the women, helping them to shape their professional aspirations and developing their confidence. According to this investigation, it is the directors the ones with the biggest influence in the employees and their compromise.

To improve this, Bain recommends the directors in the middle level of management to adopt a more balanced image of the ideal employee; invest more time in giving individual attention to their employees; and promote the equality of opportunity for women and men among their employees.

What is your opinion? What are the reasons of this lack of feminine ambition in the companies?

Women are not equal to men

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Source: NoticiasSin

Listening that “women are not equal to men” is an injustice that should be treated, but it is even more when is expressed by someone not too far from Spain and by a president of state. It is the case of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, president of Turkey, who in a conference about women’s right in Ankara decided to express his opinion, establishing that women are not equal to men and that their main role in society is motherhood.

This statement has awakened a large number of critics towards the president, who argued his statement with the following explanation: “it is against nature [that women are equal] because their nature is different”. In other hand, the president of Turkey attacked the feminist collective by stating that no everyone understood that the main role of the women is to be mothers and that “this can not be explained to the feminist because they do not accept the concept of maternity”. According to him, the position of being a mother is the most important and defended that his “religion has given a position to women, and it is the position of being a mother”, and this is “the higher position” that can be achieved.

The sexist and fanatical argument Erdogan proclaimed at the congress of women’s right held in Ankara has a clear target, other faithful devotees like him who believe in male chauvinism imposed by religion. But, how much can be tolerated a speech like this?

The reality in Turkey is very diverse. A very religious country where Islam reigns but has strong European influence, the contrasts are very pronounced. In the capitals, the clothing is very varied and can be found from very modern clothing to turbans. In the big cities, the freedom of choice is little wider. But far from the city, most of the country side, the reality is different.

The Turkish Yakin Ertürk, special reporter of the ONU on violence against women, visited various cities in southeast Turkey (Kurdistan) to investigate if the suicides of women are forced and if some crimes are masqueraded as such to preserve the honor. According to the rapporteur, the media has fanned the suspicion that, due to criminal hardening, are increasing behaviors that already existed: the family members that induced women, normally young, to commit suicide (avoiding that one of the relatives goes to prison). Therefore, she explained, they make her feel guilty of a conduct which stains all to then leave her alone with a rope, a dose of poison and a loaded gun. At other times the murder has been tried to masquerade as suicide or an accident.

At the end of her trip, Ertürk declined to pronounce herself in depth – she still has to announce her report-, but she asked the authorities to investigate carefully some cases of murder by honor disguised as suicide, or if such has been forced.

She also reported other abuses that are being committed against women’s rights, stating that “the patriarchal order and the violation of human rights implied, as the forced marriages and early, domestic violence and the denial of the reproductive rights, are usually facts that contribute to the suicide of mature and young women”.

If to this we add presidents who support sexism, of the impositions of this character that makes religion and who underestimate women, treating them unequal to men, refuting a situation such as this experienced in the country but also in the city, will be impossible.

My dress is my choice: Clothing, a weapon of violence against women

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My dress, my choice

There are things we may think would have already been banished in the XXI Century, as would be the speech about whether a woman can wear miniskirts or not; but this is not a reality in many places of the planet. And so, thousands of women, many of them wearing miniskirts, and some men, have spoken up in protest these days on the streets of Nairobi, Kenya, under the slogan “My dress, my choice” to show their support for the Kenyan woman assaulted and savagely assaulted at a bus stop by a group of men who claimed she was dressed indecently.

This assault became public after a witness of the aggression uploaded the video onto YouTube. Authorities are investigating the case but it seems that the assailants called the victim “Jezebel” and accused her of provocation by the way she was dressed, before attacking and ripping her clothes, leaving her naked, to strike next.

According to Rachel Shebesh a government representative in Nairobi, “when it comes to violence against women, there can be no tolerance and no excuse; I hope the perpetrators are duly punished for assault“. And the thing is that violence against women comes in many forms, not only in the domestic sphere, but also in the public domain.

The incident has caused #MyDressMyChoice campaign on Twitter, where the support to the victim and protesters keeps growing.

Laws “anti-miniskirt” in Uganda and Swaziland

And the control for women’s dresscode has resurfaced in several African countries such as Uganda, which has banned the use of  provocative clothing such as miniskirts. Worse of all: this is under penalty of imprisonment for incitement to rape.

The legislation was approved in February by the Ugandan president, Yoweri Museveni, along with the controversial anti-gay bill, which dictates life imprisonment for anyone with homosexual practices, as part of new rules against pornography.

Another case is Swaziland, a country where hundreds of young women dance bare-chested before the king each year. Since 2012, a colonial law of 1889 applies, prohibiting indecent clothing like miniskirts or low-waist pants. Those who breach are exposed to six months in jail. According to government spokesmen, a miniskirt  makes “rape easier because it is easy to remove the small piece of cloth worn by women“.

Thus, according to authorities in this country, women wearing these clothes are responsible for attacks and violations against them.

However, the ban does not affect the traditional costumes that girls wear when the renown ‘reed dance’ is celebrated each September in the African country which attracts many tourists. This is the country dance where women dance shirt-less in front of King Mswati III, who has the right to choose among them, a new woman.

Are we going back in time? Are they backing the rights of women worldwide?


Women who changed the world and women that change it today

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Rosa Parks y Kakenya Ktaiya

There are people whose philosophy is to leave a world behind a little better after their existence. Actually it is a premise that many still yearn and reach. Many succeed, because not only those who go down in history for it, change the world. But today we meet a woman whose name has been written for her contribution to humanity and we also mention a woman struggling today to fix minor problems in our planet.

Rosa Parks

The name might not sound familiar to many, but this woman was a civil rights activist in the United States and a big game-changer. She was a key figure in thefight against segregation movement in the country; a struggle that lasted many years but which they eventually beat.

What came to be known as the Montgomery bus boycott, a protest against the policies of racial segregation in the public transport system, started in 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama (USA). For over a year, many boycotted the separatist laws and challenged those who wanted to impose them. The boycott lead to a couple of arrests, including that of Rosa Parks. The activist refused to leave a free seat for white people when there was not even white people on the bus. Her challenge led her to prison and soon, the following leaflet was spread around:

Another women have been arrested and thrown in jail because she refused to get up out of her seat on the bus for a white person to sit down. It is the second time since the Claudette Colvin case that a black women have been arrested for the same thing. This have to be stopped. blacks have rights too, for if black did not ride the buses, they could not operate. Three-fourths of the riders are Negro, yet we are arrested, or have to stand over empty seats. If we do not do something to stop these arrests, they will continue. The next time it may be you, or your daughter, or mother. This woman’s case will come up on Monday. We are, therefore, asking every Negro to stay off the buses Monday in protest of the arrest and trial. Don’t ride the buses to work, to town, to school, or anywhere on Monday. You can afford to stay out of school for one day if you have no other way to go except by bus. You can also afford to stay out of town for one day. If you work, take a cab, or walk. But please, children and grown-ups, don’t ride the bus at all on Monday. Please stay off all buses Monday.

People joined the movement to pressure against segregation laws. Taxi drivers went on to charge a lower rate for blacks so that they used the taxi rather than the bus as a means of protest. That was how, slowly and struggling for a year, on December 20, 1956 they got the Supreme Court to declare segregation laws on buses in Montgomery unconstitutional.

Kakenya Ktaiya

She has also done her bit to create a better world and continues to do so today. In Kenya, her country, 25% of girls under 15 are married. Within the Maasai people, nine out of ten become wives when they reach puberty. Kakenya Ntaiya said “I don’t want this”. She had dreams of education. But being enganged five years after their first menstruation, tradition dictated that Kakenya had to go through FGM to marry and drop school. She begged her father to continue studying and promised that if he let her do so, she would undergo mutilation. At 14, she endured the pain of it.

In return, she promised to be the best student and that the education she would receive, would help her Enoosaen community in the future in some way. This girl could not imagine that her life would reach where it did years later, fulfilling her promise.

Kakenya Ktaiya is 36 years now and has a doctorate in Education from the University of Pittsburgh and she directs Kakenya’s Dream (The Dream Kakenya), the first school for Enoosaen girls that is actually much more than a school; it is an important proyect for the education and empowerment of girls.

How do you fight to be a game-changer? What do you do to leave the world behind a little better than it is today?


Maternity and professional development… Is it still a myth?

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Maternidad y desarrollo profesional

Being the 21st century, it is difficult to understand how the mentality continued to be stuck in the old paradigm that women and fertility didn’t match with a profession.

It is surprising to come across in the news with declarations such as the one by Ms. Monica de Oriol, the President of the Association of Businessman in Madrid, Spain – also mother of 6. Ms. Oriol stated that she prefers hiring women below 25 years old and above 45, and who wouldn’t get pregnant. This type of statements set delicate and dangerous boundaries for the society.

Family is a reality of our society, it is the base. So is the professional development of both, women and men. The family is not something exclusive to women, as men are normally implied as well in the labors of parenting.

How can a society expect to evolve and grow if women are discriminated over their age and their possible will to start their own family? How is that the potential, professionalism and expertise of a woman can be shadowed by her desired live the motherhood?

The balance between work and family shouldn’t be a hazard or a obstacle for any person, regardless of their sex and career selections.

It is not a secret that the in the countries with the best quality of life the management of the time at work is different. Motherhood is seemed as something good and deserving of attention. The employees don’t expend as much time as others do in most of the other countries, such as Spain, United States, etc.

Let’s not forget that women represent nearly 50% of the world population, however they don’t yet receive 50% of the opportunities.

Thanks to the exhaustive labor of many organizations, the gender gaps have been closed in many of the world’s nations. This should serve as a source of inspiration and motivation to continue the work and bring the opportunities to many more countries, and of course, remind the leaders in the different areas that this is something that concerns us all.

Every year since the 2006, the World Economic Forum releases its annual “Gender Gap Report” which studies and examines the gaps between women and men in for categories: Educational Attainment, Health and Survival, Economic Participation and Political Empowerment.

It is known that there are some countries very known for their benefit to the working parents. For example, Iceland has one of the highest rates or working moms of any developed country. 85% of the mothers of children under 1 year old have a job. They have a paternity leave policy since 1970’s and on 2012 they passed a new law known as 5-2-5, according to which mothers and fathers and entitled to five months leave and they have two months in additional to divide among themselves as they find prefer.

Another example is Sweden, where the maternity leave can extend for several years and can be shared by a mother or father. The government entitles parents with a combined 480 days to leave, 80% pay approximately, and the timing is flexible.

Parenthood and specially motherhood should not be seen in the society as a difficulty and as a barrier in the professional development of women.  The society and its governments are the responsible of defending the equality rights as well as the opportunities to the women who wish to have a career and also a family. It shouldn’t be one or the other. With balance and support, it’s possible for women to have great career along with their own families, which we shall remind, are the future of our society.

Image source: Women News Network.

If not me, who? If not now, when?

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Emma Watson

Emma Watson, known for her acting, especially in the Harry Potter movies, is also Goodwill Ambassador for women’s rights at the UN. Last week she did a speech at the HeForShe meeting held in the UN Headquarters in New York, which went viral in Social Networks and on-line platforms.

The young activist and actress spoke about gender equality and how gender equality is an issue that concerns both men and women. Therefore, she defended that men have to get involved in gender equality because without them, it would take much longer or perhaps even forever to accomplish. Watson brought up several examples of her particular case when stating the following:

My life is a sheer privilege because my parents didn’t love me less because I was born a daughter. My school did not limit me because I was a girl. My mentors didn’t assume that I would go less far because I might give birth to a child one day. These influences were the gender equality ambassadors that made me who I am today. They may not know it, but they are the inadvertent feminists that are changing the world today. We need more of those.

Like her, many of us can probably think of inadvertent feminists who change the world. But, are they enough?

There are things that keep going on and that keep being a reality even if there’s an ongoing fight for gender equality. These things that set us apart come from the root of our education and both boys and girls, women and men, take part in them. It’s things like calling a woman bossy when she’s being a great leader, sexualizing her instead of giving her credit for her intelligence or creativity, it’s classifying as ‘tomboy’ a woman who does sports or enjoys adventure activities, it’s allowing men be aggressive when they are angry rather than encouraging them to express their feelings and it’s calling a ‘crybaby’ those who do have the courage to do so. These are just some examples of the ongoing pattern that is constantly present in our society and that ties us back in our fight for gender equality.

The media plays an important role in establishing these ‘rules’ that attain to men or women, girls or boys. The portrayal of women in the media is negative and degrading and this has been translated into our society, for we imitate what we see on TV.  But so is the portrayal of men. As stated before, men are portrayed as strong, never expressing their feelings, not vulnerable and not caring. Are men really like that? No, and if they are, they shouldn’t because we are all human beings and we have in common one thing: we are social animals that have the need to express. So, men shouldn’t be less. So it’s our responsibility not to allow the silence of men.

And it’s as simple and as logical as the words of Watson when she stated the following during her speech:

If men don’t have to be aggressive in order to be accepted, women won’t feel compelled to be submissive

If men don’t have to control, women won’t have to be controlled

This vicious cycle could end if men say NO to the fake expectations society has set on them; expectations that indirectly oblige them to undertake certain attitude that not only hurts them, but also hurts women. Men don’t deserve to be silent, they don’t deserve the punishment of not expressing their feelings, they don’t deserve the pressure of ‘having’ to be strong and like sports just because society dictates so, they don’t deserve not getting the chance to be vulnerable and being accused of weak if they allow themselves to be so. And in order to stop this, it takes both men and women.

Mothers, encourage your son to cry his anger out and to express his deep sorrow when sad and in pain. Fathers, talk to your son about your feelings and your worries; let him see you are too vulnerable and he might look up to you and feel free to do so. Friends, ask your male friends about their feeling and don’t allow anyone to laugh if they hear your male friend talking about his emotions. Girlfriends and boyfriends, appreciate the brains more than the body.

And the other way around too: Fathers, encourage your daughters to speak up and take on the role they want, be it leading people or being led. Mothers, talk to your daughters about their aspirations and don’t allow them to be submissive. Friends, don’t sexualize your girl friends and treat them with respect. Boyfriends and girlfriends, again, appreciate the brains more than the body.

You are the game-changer in gender equality. So when the opportunity for change comes across you, remember: “If not me, who? If not now, when?”

Feminine talent: a rising value in companies

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Although more women held responsibility positions in companies, there is still a lot to do when it comes to their representation in the board of management in companies, where, in Spain women only represent a 16,2%. However, experts agree that women’s leadership is going to be fundamental to promote economical development. But, what are the characteristics of women’s leadership? It seems like women outdo men in: listening, empathy and feedback capacity.

Other abilities would be cooperation, communication and interchange and a higher capacity to delegate. Also, women avoid postponing uncomfortable situations and better look for alternatives to solve problems faster. It is also remarkable the character for improvement and the ability to cope of most of professional women, which makes them more resistant to failure. But, above all, women are good at team working, preferring debate and dialogue rather than authoritarianism. In this sense, women have natural qualities supported by scientific studies as those coming from the Massachussetts Institute of Technology and Carnegie Mellon University (USA) under the supervision of Anita Woolley. Those researchers have defined what they call collective intelligence in a group.

This intelligence does not depend on the individual intelligences of each of the members of the group but on three variables: on the sensitivity of the members of the group (the more capacity to recognize the feelings and thoughts of the rest, the more collective intelligence); on the dialogue capacity among them (when all of them take part in the dialogue there is more intelligence than when one or two people lead); and on the number of women involved in the group (the more women, the more collective intelligence).

And so, gender diversity produces better performance in teams. And feminine leadership styles are more flexible and with greater facility to recognize the different qualities of a person, tend to promote the relationships in companies in a more efficient way.

However, it seems like the lack of confidence in their own personal capacities is a key barrier which prevents many women from reaching highest positions of responsibility.

On the other hand, and following official statistics, incorporating feminine and masculine talent in equal proportion in companies increases their productivity in an 18%.

Do we need more reasons to incorporate talented women in companies?


Peace is reached when listening to women

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Today we are going to talk about war and women. We are going to talk about how women, in the backstage of violent conflicts, fight; not to win the battle but for life. Normally we hear about those who fight with weapons, those who form the lines, the military, of which a majority are men. We hear about those who go out into the battlefield, reflected as heroes by the media. They don’t care about anything else but victory.

But behind war there’s not just death, there’s also a lot of life. Who’s the main actor maintaining this life? In a great number of cases, it’s women. That’s why we are going to talk about one of them: Zainab Salbi, an American-Iraqi woman who is also an author, activist for women’s rights, filmmaker, humanitarian and social entrepreneur, and who co-funded is former CEO of Women for Women International. The organization aids and invests in women who have suffered the consequences of violent conflicts, giving them voice and offering them formation in order to be self-sufficient. In other words, the organization helps empower them and gives them the leadership so that they can bring up their own economy and start their own projects.

In a TED talk celebrated in Oxford (England) in 2010, Zainab Salbi explained how she helsef was a survivor of a war conflict when she was a girl. During her childhood, she lives the war undertaken in her country, Iraq. Her mother always insisted on how she should never forget about the ‘I’ in her; about herlsef, no matter the losses of war or the bad times life could bring. This brought her to understand that in this type of conflicts, two perspectives co-exist: the perspective of men who seek victory and the perspective of women who seek life.

Zainab Salbi explained in the TED talk offered in Oxford the story of several women that survived the conflict in Sarajevo or in Congo. They, according to the speaker, live and they do them for them selves and not because of what they have gone through.

Just like the pianist quoted by Salbi who kept playing and offering her music classes even if her music school was being shot at on a daily basis during the conflict in Sarajevo, other women have also done great change in the backstage of war. But these heroes are not portrayed in action movies produced in Hollywood. This perspective has no voice, the same way that not enough women have voice when it comes to sitting at a round table to decide upon a peace treaty, as Salbi explains.

Maybe, if in peace processes there were more feminine voices, more weight on this side that defends life and not just victory, war conflicts would cease and peace would last longer.


Violence against women: an invisible global phenomena

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Oscar Pistorius juzgado por violencia contra las mujeres

Oscar Pistorius a la salida de su juicio – Fuente: Reuters

The recent homicide sentence Oskar Pistorius received for his wife, Reeva Steenkamp’s death, states that the South African athelete did not kill her intentionally on February 2013. This has set the topic of gender violence in the agenda once more, depicting the death of women in the hands of men close to them is a global phenomena and that it affects all types of women.

Just in South Africa in 2009 1,024 women were murdered by their partner or ex-partner, which means that a woman was murdered every 8 hours. But we wont hear about most of them, only Reeva Steenkamp’s murder was news all around the world last year because the man who committed the murder was famous.

As for the Spanish state, this summer could go down in history as one of the darkest since gender-based violence cases have been counted. Just during the first 2 weeks of January, 6 women were murdered by their partners or ex-partners. And so far this year 41 women have been casualties of gender-based violence, 9 more than these same dates in 2013. During the last month in August 8 women have been murdered, being the worst month for deaths since 2008. The cases of these women, from very varied profiles, have not attracted media attention.

And so, while Reeva Steenkamp’s figure fades with media attention focusing on Oscar Pistorious, her name also hides those of thousands of women who are muredered every year by men from their closer circle and whose names are unknown for us.

What do you think? Is the media coverage of gender-based violence correct? Does this kind of violence affect all women in the same manner?

The focus is always on the victim

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One of the biggest mistakes made by our society is to believe in the saying “prevention is better than having to cure” and when one has to cure, we regret and think about the thousand ways we could have “prevented” what happened. It is not entirely wrong to correct things when something bad happens to us, but does the victim always had anything to prevent? That is our mistake: thinking that it is the victim who could have prevented the action of the aggressor.

Let’s put a very clear example: the gender violence. In Spain, most campaigns against violence perpetuated against women contain a very clear message: “complain, call 016.” In other words, and subliminally saying, “woman, victim, complain or abuse will happen.” As a result, the women possible abused and afraid to dial those three digits, will feel guilty the next time it happens because she was not able to call that number. Consequently, a female victim of domestic abuse who did not have the courage to dial the number, will feel more coward and could possible never build that value to make that call and report the abuse.

In these two campaigns promoted by the Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality in 2012 and 2013 you can clearly see the type of victim-centered message that is spread.

But it shouldn’t be like this…


The message launched by campaigns against violence should not be “victim, gets that phone or you will be hurt” but it should be “aggressor, if you are a real man, you won’t hurt her”. Perhaps if the focus would be on the aggressor, this could get the hint, and with some luck, the message would have an effect on him. But if the message is not addressed to him, he clearly will never pay attention to it.
As per explained by the expert Jackson Katz, founder and director of MVP Strategies, in a TEDxFiDiWomen presentation,

when it’s avoided to place the focus on others who are not victims, this makes the problem not be resolved. He adds that this is due to a construction of the hegemonic society where the man is goes first. Katz explains how unconsciously and due to the instituted society dominated by men, we fall into the trap of relating some terms with others. The expert explains the following:

Gender Female
Ethnicity Asian or African
Sexual Orientation Homosexual, bisexual or transgender

To this, Katz adds three rhetorical questions: Does a man have no gender? Don’t the white belong to an ethnicity? Don’t a heterosexual has a sexual orientation? In this sense, it explains that the fact of not thinking in the first instance in white men and heterosexual is due to the established by this society and what this cause is a lack of attention from these groups on issues that they should care. For example, in some occasions when it comes to an issue of gender, men tend ignore it because they see it as a subject related to women.

With this, the founder and director of MVP Strategies supports the idea that to solve the problems and gender inequalities, racism or homophobia, we must get involved and above all, do not be passive. According to the expert, it is not an issue of pure awareness in the society but to encourage a healthy leadership, leaders who care about these issues and not let others violate them.


Do you want to be a more attractive man? It’s not too hard…

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Some will say that the game of love is pure chemistry, it either exists or it doesn’t, but you can’t control it. Other may believe that the techniques of love are written down in those handbooks that you can find in some libraries or even on the Internet. But the real deal is that attraction is simply a pleasant perception that we get from a thing or person. Therefore, if someone does something pleasant, could he or she get to be more attractive?

The general definition of attraction is the ability to attract, which at the same time is defined as the action of “winning over the will, affection, liking or attention of another”. And how do we win over the will, affection, liking or attention of another person?

Generally, human beings tend to relate among them; we communicate and share. We are born from the womb in which we are incubated and where we develop during nine months; nine months in which our mother has to nurture and take care of her health in order to give birth. In her womb, we already create a relationship with her and we share even if it’s just the nutrients that will make us human.

Following this pattern, when we grow up, we search for love and affection in others. It’s human nature. We also long for happiness as one of our main goals for existing and, just like the quote in a movie states, “happiness is only real if you can share it”. Therefore, our destiny takes us back to that: sharing. And in order to share, we have to attract others.

Today we are focusing on them; on how a man can cause more attraction on a woman (or another man). Far from physical appearance, being a gentleman, and other stereotypes that have always been defined as ‘the keys to success for a man’, we are focusing on an aspect that is not really talked about but, we consider should have more echo: care-taking.

What do we refer to when we say care-taking? Taking care of their physical appearance? No, we are not referring to that. We refer to care-taking of others, of the house, of the family. We refer to being caring and sharing the workload that had always been implied that is supposed to get done by women. That really makes a man attractive.

Taking care of others not only makes people stronger but also more attractive, as explained doctor Gary Barker, international director and founder of Promundo, an ONG internationally renown with headquarters in Brasil and office in Rwanda and the USA that works at a national and international level to involve men in gender equality and violence prevention, in the last TEDxBarcelonaWomen. According to the director of Promundo, in more than one occasion he has found young men who had vandalized, been in prison or been aggressive or accused of a case of violence, and whose future was in check-point because of their past. He asked them how they would get out of that life and, especially why were they willing to erase that past. To this, they all agreed on one answer: they would do it for a person that they loved and whom they took care of.

Becoming a person that gives care, protection and affection to another person makes them stronger. Men who take care of others become more comfortable with them and feel safer and stronger in order to offer that strength to someone else, and this makes them more attractive.

En a study undertaken by Gary Barker, he interviewed men and women from all over the world and he ask them to what extent they shared home tasks. According to the doctor, he arrived to the following conclusions:

  1. In those relationships where the couple shared the household workload, women answered that they were happier
  2. In those relationships where the couple shared the household workload, women answered that they were sexually happier with their partner (and not with another man or woman, which is an important factor)

On top of this, Barker suggests that taking care of others, we learn how to take care of ourselves and this makes men who do so take better care of themselves. This can translate into a better physical appearance and thus, more attractive appearance.

But most importantly, taking care of others, other than teaching us how to take care of ourselves, teaches us how to be human. And a fundamental truth is that human beings feel attraction to other human beings.

Work or family, a necessary choice?

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New labour laws in almost all Western countries as well as changes in the working procedures and environments, as telecommuting, co-working spaces, flexibility in working timings or new technologies has enabled it for professionals from all around the world to easily reconcile their working and family lives. Has it?

In Spain 39% of women report having rejected a job offer or a promotion to have children or to take care of other people, while among men this percentage decreases to 12%, as a study named “Conciliación y familia” run by Pfizer foundation states . The profile of the most affected women “particularly” by this causes are those aged between 35 and 49, with higher education level and living in larger cities, as Dr. Juan Álvarez, director of Pfizer Foundation explained.

1.500 women above the age of 16 years old have been interviewed in this survey among the whole country and, with this data, it has been proved that almost a third of the employable Spanish population claims to have problems to reconcile working and family lives, above all because of the incompatibility of the working hours (24,0%) or because of the fact of expending a large amount of time at work (16,8%)

For professor Nieves Alarcón, first vicepresident of the National Commission for the Rationalization of Spanish Working Hours (ARHOE), “talking about reconciliation without talking about a better control of working hours does not make sense”. Alarcón regrets that Spain is “the country with the highest number of working hours per week on average (277) while being one of the less productive of the European Union”.

A universal problem

According to a survey by Harris Interactive, most of Americans (89%) believe that employers should offer more flexibility to their employees so that they can reconcile family life, and support the concept of flexible workplaces. Also more than a half of American workers and almost 6 out of 10 working parents
believe that they could better develop their work if they had more predictable and consistent working agendas.

It also has an impact on work performance and therefore on the results of companies; only 13% of employees worldwide feel really engaged at work ( and there is no doubt that not being able to reconcile work and family life is one of the causes.


According to Jacob Morgan, author of The Future of Work: Attract New Talent, Build Better Leaders, and Create a Competitive Organization, there are 3 factors we should take into account:

  1. Achieving flexible workplaces: The key to have a proper flexible workspace is to give employees the option of when and how they want to work.
  2. Connectivity does not mean availability:: with the use of email and technology it is much easier to keep permanently connected. However, it does not mean that we should be always available, we should set the slots in which we are available to work.
  3. Management of expectations: this  is up to both employers and employees; for instance not accepting meetings after 7 pm unless it is an exceptional case. To do so, it is necessary to promote dialogue and to negotiate a previous agreement between both employer and employee.

You can read more about these ideas in this article.

What do you think?

Should we still decide between work and professional life or family and private life? How can we reconcile them two?

About laws, more women female lawyers

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Mujeres abogadas.The law career has become one in which there are more women. The number continues to rise and since some years ago, the statistics indicate that more than half of law graduates are women. These represent 60% of new hires in law firms and areas of jurisdiction. In the last ten years, the weight of women in paid employment has increased in both legal activities as in the service sector in general. This also explains a greater presence among lawyers.

However, there is an important factor to highlight: in the scale of the career of advocacy, the higher we observe, the fewer female lawyer we’ll see, and this is because among leading lawyers practicing under five, female lawyer are the majority and represent more than 50% compared to men, but the highest positions within the profession, are usually occupied by men. It could be a matter of balance between work and personal life. In Spain, only 13% of partners share law firms are women, totaling just over 130 members. Instead, about 876 men occupy this position, representing the 87%, according to the newspaper Expansion in a report in the Spanish legal field.

In that report, the newspaper analizes the numbers by law firm and draws the following conclusions:

· The law firms with greater numer of female members in their ranks are Jausas (42%), Dutilh (40%) and Ashurst (33%).

· Garrigues, with 35 women, and Cuatrecasas, 26, are the ones with the greatest number of female members in Spain, concentrating between them nearly half (46%) of the 25 firms analyzed.

Knowing that the number of lawyers of both sexes is almost the same in the base rows, it is clear that the gap is in promoting the female members within the big firms. But there is also no equality in the intermediate positions. Although the number of women partners or sitting on the boards is reduced, a majority of women is leading in practice areas such as communication, marketing, human resources and knowledge management.

In Spain only three women are at the forefront of the major law firms: KPMG Lawyers, DLA Piper and Jones Day. Unlike to our country, in the UK 18.4% of the partners of the large firms are women.

The managing partner of DLA Piper, María José Aguiló Expansion newspaper claimed that the reconciliation between work and personal life is often one of the obstacles that hold career women lawyers. The managing partner of DLA Piper, María José Aguiló Expansion newspaper claimed that the reconciliation between work and personal life is often one of the obstacles that hold career women lawyers. According to the managing partner, “in general, we need a cultural change; wanting to reconcile work and private life should not mean a lower level of professional commitment and organizations that facilitate the reconciliation retain the best talent”. Therefore, efforts should be made to facilitate the reconciliation to deliver more opportunities to women who are committed to their career but also to their life.


Femenine leadership at risk

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liderazgo femenino en crisis

The past Thursday 3rd of July, the V Forum of Happiness Alqvimia (@ForumAlqvimia), organized by FemTalent and Alqvimia, took place at the headquarters of PIMEC. The Forum orbited around “Feminine leadership in businesses: from utopia to reality”, a debate about the situation in context. All of the participants agreed upon the idea that there’s a feminine leadership that differs greatly from masculine leadership that implies characteristics such as dialogue, empathy, ability to negotiate, etc., which are positive for businesses.

At this precise moment where we are living through an economic crisis affecting all, but specially women, a wave of feminization of leadership is rising. As professor Tània Verge of the Pompeu Fabra University (UPF) stated in her intervention at the First Session of the Progressist Summer University of Catalunya (UPEC) of this year, “the current political crisis has taken us to the feminization of leaderships and this feminization leads to a simple and clear language; to the horizontal decision-making pattern”.

But it seems that in the world of big businesses, this leadership is unstable and at risk. According to data from The 2013 Chief Executive Study done by Strategy& published yearly, “women CEOs often see themselves forced to abandon their job“. During the last 10 years, 38% of women CEOs who abandoned their position were forced to leave the company, whereas only 27% of men CEOs found themselves in this situation.

Many of these women have been heavily criticized for their leadership style; maybe some of them have even adopted male control roles and ordering id often confused with leading but, is it women’s fault? Or are there still some stereotypes and judgments between men and women that affect women who occupy a directive position negatively?

In an interesting article published in Womenalia, the cases of eight women CEOs who were forced to abandon their job position are presented. Among them is that of the ex executive editor of the New York Times, Jill Abramson, who was apparently dismissed for personal style issues, or that of Sallie Krawcheck, considered to be the most powerful woman of Wall Street and a defender of consumer rights.Krawcheck, President and manager of M&A deals of Bank of America, argued with her bosses in Citigroup and Bank of America, and that cost her job.

So, what do you think about this? Was it their different style at femenine leadership what made these women abandon their jobs or do you think it was due to other factors?



Women in media

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women in media

The representation of women in media is in most of the cases unreal, superficial and, not to forget, limited; especially when it comes to successful women. This path has been marred by stereotypes, parts of the body and the absence. But there is still some more path to cover where we have the opportunity to look back to the past to rectify when writing our future.

In the seventies, some sociologists defined gender as “socially produced differences between being female and being male”. To this definition, some others noted that gender also comes with “socially imposed attributes and behaviors which are assigned to male and female categories”.

Certainly, gender is and has always been a key element to establish the foundations of society although it has been “characterized by disputes concerning power and inequality”. But, how does gender establish those foundations? The answer could be in the three-part process to create the structure of culture which Milestone and Meyer describe in their study on Gender and Popular Culture. These processes, which involve production, performance and consumption, define the structure of the popular culture in this way:

“Gender hierarchy and inequalities are maintained, among other reasons, by systems of meaning and beliefs, and those are generated through representations. Representations are constructed through language, images and social practices and have a material as well as a symbolic dimension.”

In other words: We are what we represent, but we do not represent what we are. And, why would we do so? Because the hegemony of men can only be sustained by this erratic representation which excludes the woman as a figure of power. So, women and especially men have to stop this tendency. The first step:

Let women explain the story.

If the basis of a story are still explained by the male perspective, very little will be changed. As the journalist and producer Megan Kamerick explains in a TED talk , untold stories which she loves to discover are, to her surprise, mostly related to women.

There is a little presence of leader or successful women in media. When it comes to politics or economy, it does not arrive to 20% of the stories. Which means that, for every 5 stories that can be read or seen in the news about politics or economy, only one of them will be starred by a woman, as Kamerik explains in her TED talk.

In many cases, the representation of women appears through parts of her body. In this video, the journalist explains how, to illustrate an article about breast-tissue engineering, one journal selected the breast of a naked woman as a cover image. What the journal’s publisher argued was that as there are not so many women in science and they were trying to draw the attention of a male target. So, this is the problem: treating a women’s issue focusing on her breasts.

Media is daily telling us what is important, by selecting and publishing, the story for us to consume it. This is the classic Agenda setting concept. If we don’t see the achievements of women in media, how will we give them the importance they deserve? And if we do not give them the importance they deserve, how will they become relevant and go down in history? We must change what we represent.

What do we want to be told to us? Do we want stories and so, the history to be starred by men? Very little is known about those women leading or ending wars, changing science and discovering the world… and why? Because we were not able to tell it. Because the woman has been held back for centuries and the only perspective that we have is the male one.

How many of the news headlines you have read today were starred by women?

  • None
  • More than one
  • More than two
  • Less than five
  • More than five

Let us know!


Image from Women’s Equality Network

Entrepreneurship of women, the key to peace

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It is universally accepted that economically stable societies has a larger capacity for peace. According to World Bank data, there is strong evidence of the relationship between democracy and the per capita income of its inhabitants in the countries:

  • Democracies are generally stable above $ 6000 per apita income of its inhabitants
  • Democracies are vulnerable to coups and civil wars between $ 3000 and $ 6000 per capita income of its inhabitants.
  • Democracies can fail when you have less than $ 3,000 per capita income. We have, for example, the cases of Rwanda (GDP per capita of $ 620) and Afghanistan ($ 687 per capita income).

In these countries with lower per capita income, the work done by the Institute for Economic Empowerment of Women is very important. The IEEW conducts a the program PEACE THROUGH BUSINESS® , which helps women to start their own businesses and contribute at the same time to the peace and the development in their countries.

In 8 years, more than 400 women have completed the program and 80% of them are still in business today, a higher rate of success of the 57% of failed starts up in the United States in its first five years of life. Every woman in the PTB graduate program creates an average of 25 jobs and precisely the graduated from Rwanda and Afghanistan are among the ones who have achieved a highest rates of job creation.

Women who complete this program will not only gain success in their business but also get involved in the political life of their countries. Rwanda is the country with the largest representation of women in politics, with parliamentary 63.8% and 38.5% of representatives in the Senate. One of the women engaged in politics in this African country, Anne Marie Kantengwa, PTB graduate program in 2013, is the owner of Hotel Chez Side (, with more than 140 workers, a successful tourist establishment in Kigali.

El emprendimiento de las mujeres, la clave para la paz.

In Afghanistan, several students of the PTB program, along with other Afghan business women  created LEAD  (Leading Entrepreneurs of Afghanistan Development). In January 2014, the founders of this organization that promotes entrepreneurship development in the country (including graduates of PTB Freshta Hazeq, Farah Karimi, and Manizha Wafeq) met with President Hamid Karzai to express their support for the Bilateral Strategic Agreement signed with the United States to alleviate the current economic deterioration of the country in a very important step for women in Afghanistan.

The experience of programs like PEACE THROUGH BUSINESS ® shows that even in countries where women face greater difficulties, they can contribute effectively to the economy, politics and society of their country.

According to Jane Derrick, Public Relations at the Institute for Economic Empowerment of Women, “the IEEW strongly believes in women; these are the caretakers, mothers, grandmothers, wives, aunts, but much more than that: they are the emerging leaders in the business world and are the ones driving the future of the global economy“. The small businesses are the foundation of economic stability of a country, “the IEEW believes that women are the key to the development and stability of business in emerging economies”, says Derrick. Undoubtedly, women entrepreneurs around the world are key to peace.

What do you think? Do you agree with this? Is entrepreneurship of women the key to future economic development?

Image: Iniciativa México

Directives Women in Corporate Boards. Mission: Impossible?

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A few weeks ago, we could read the bad news for Jill Abramson, the first women working as an executive director at The New Your Times, who was fired due to not so clear causes. This is bad news because it is not so easy to have women referents in high responsibility charges both in media and more generally in business.

If it is not easy for a women to reach the higher directive positions of companies, it is even more difficult to be a part of the Corporate Boards; in S&P 100 only a 19% of their executive council are women and in Spain only 19 out of 99 members of the corporate boards of companies in IBEX 35 are women. In Catalonia, the “Observatorio Mujer, Empresa y Economía” of the Chamber of Commerce has shown in a study about the presence of women in the Catalan business world that only an 8,8% of the places of the government bodies and of higher decisions of the 400 Catalan companies are run by women and, on the higher executive level (managing director) they only represent a 4,5% . This huge loss of female talent is evident as well as the loss of equality in the executive levels of the companies at a global level.

Quotes for directives women?

Also a few days ago the new regulation for credit institutions of the Spanish Ministry of Economy was announced. It will make it mandatory for banks to apply quotas for women in their Corporate Boards in order to achieve equality in their government bodies.

This measure appears in line with  the proposal coming from Brussels to introduce quotas for women in their corporate boards, whose most famous defender is the vice-president of the European Commission Viviane Reding.The directive presented by the commisioner, which requires the prioritary hiring of a women in the Corporate Boards when her merits are the same of those of a men, was endorsed by the European Parliament but still the European Council has not given green light to it.

Support for such measures is increasing by countries as Germany, which used to be reluctant, after Norway proved to be a successful example achieving real equality in the Corporate Boards of their companies.

How can directives women access to the Corporate Boards?

But, beyond the debate on quotas: What prevents women, who are more than sufficiently prepared and who occupy middle management positions at companies, to arrive to the most senior line management positions? There are quite a few barriers which are not evident and what is true is that the male “old boys’ club” camaraderie, together with the lack of women “lobbies” are two factors which promotes the duration of the superiority of men in Corporate Boards.

Some days ago the annual meeting of Women Corporate Directors Global Institut  took place in New York. There, 250 corporate women met to talk, among other topics, about their difficulties to achieve higher management positions and how those who arrived were most probably the only woman on Board. Other topics were also debated as how convenient it would be both for companies, which would earn in talent, diversity and effectiveness,  as well as for women with a high entrepreneurship profile or CEOs, to incorporate  women in Corporate Boards.

Mujeres directivas

Precisely, one of the panels of the meeting included the issue of what women should do to have access to those Boards. Some of the advices given were:

  • To start young (start establishing connections at the age of 30 or 40, engaging the companies’ activities, getting involved in the Corporate Board at not-for-profit companies..)
  • To be strategic via networking.
  • To understand headhunters and make it easier for them to identify something characterizing in your CV.
  • To have a large and impeccable digital footprint.
  • To achieve international experience.
  • To invest or create an “start-up”.
  • To undertake specific studies on accreditations for executive directors or even to organize events as “speed dating” with corporate directors.

In the articleHow smart girls get on Corporate Boards , in Forbes by Deborah L. Jacobs, you can read further details about these advices and  the meeting.

So, what do you think they are the main obstacles for women to access to highest responsibility places at companies? Do you think quotas are a helpful tool to achieve it?

Pluriocupació i conciliació de la vida personal i professional

Multiple jobs and the balance in personal and professional life

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Your boss asks you for a few extra hours. A friend asks you to collaborate with him organizing a charity event to raise money for a cause. A mother of your children’s friends informs you that the parents association wants to start a journal in the school and ask for your collaboration. She works fulltime, goes everyday to the gym, takes her children to their activities, does piano concerts in the weekends and has an active social life. If she can handle all that, it’s only natural that you think that you can do it too, right? The thing is that not everyone have the same limit.

Sometimes it’s difficult to determine the limit and one get to only see it after you’ve surpassed it. The consequences can be irritation, tiredness or stress, and all this makes us  be less effective. We should avoid imitating those who never say “no” because they are capable to manage a huge load of work and responsabilities (or not, but they still haven’t notice it).

Multiple jobs and the balance in personal and professional life.

In the article by the Wall Street Journal they explain the story of Marguerite Samms, an executive woman from the health industry. She used to work twelve hours a day and took care of her four children with ages between 5 and 11 years old, taking them to violin lessons, swimming practice, doctors, etc. According to Samms, there was a point where “I was no longer capable to take smart decisions” and “the smallest things became overwhelming”. It wasn’t until later, in a regular meeting with her boss, that she just was able to say that she wanted to quit. Her boss gave her two weeks off and also reduced her working hours. Since then Samms has trained herself to control the signs of overload at the job, reducing her stress.

The capacity of each one to accomplish several tasks  and activities is determined by the genetic and the acquired habits in the youth, according to the medicine professor at the Mayo Clinic College in Rochester, Minnesota, Amit Sood. Furthermore, she adds that some people inherit a tendency to react more to stress and the work overload. According to the professor, the personality is also has a direct relation with this:

    • An altruistic person is capable of doing more things without letting this affect him or her in a negative way.
    • A nervous person suffers from anxiety and anger when faces a work overload.

Generally, people don’t notice that they have an overload of work until the symptoms appear:

    • Forgetting something that they had to do.
    • Insomnia.
    • Suffering minor illness (e.g. the flu, etc.).
    • Increase in the blood pressure.
    • Frecuent pain.
    • Anxiety.
    • Irritability.

All this becomes in obsession with those things that we have not been able to complete, finishing people’s sentences when they speak, being unfriendly with the coworkers, etc. At the end this damages the relationship with others and it creates a lack of negotiation in the decisions and commitments that we accept.

In Spain, the tendency of the multiple jobs is increasing. The economic situation of the country forces many people to have more than one job, and sometimes, the limits are not taken in account. Seeing people eating in the metro or in the bus at the moment of going from one job to the other is more common, specially in cities like Barcelona. Many people are forced to combine two jobs in order to make it to the end of the month.

Since the crisis started, the number of multiple employment has raised significantly and it seems that it will continue like this. This is driven by the reductions in the salaries that many workers have suffered and the increase of temporary jobs. This has also led to a change in the paradigm of the feminisation of part-time jobs since now men and women, normally young, are the ones who occupy them.

Even if the economic situation forces us to have more than one job, we must know our limits and learn how to balance our professional and personal life.

Do you think that we are able to achieve this balance or do you think that the professional life absorbing us?

A global call to invest in women

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We live in a society increasingly globalized which takes example from big corporations and financial entities to invest. But global means big and small, man and woman. For this reason big corporations as well as small businesses and investment funds should match on what is in their hands: attitudes and initiatives.

One initiative that everyone should follow as an example is the one coming from Goldman Sachs Bank International Funds. This giant of the financial world is committed to invest 600 million dollar in Small and Medium Enterprises (SEMs) run by women in developing countries. This project is joining the call for action under the slogan “invest in women” that everyone should join.

Source: Goldman Sachs

Source: Goldman Sachs

Economically empowering women is a fundamental part of the approach to gender equality and the end of poverty. Taking into account that they are a 49,6% of the whole world population, women contribute significantly to economy and, if we invested more money in them, their contribution would be even bigger. But gender discrimination is still rampant in the world and it many times means women having to work in unsafe or underpaid (even not paid) workplaces, and that women still do not hold a proportional number of executive positions.

To be globalized without the shadows of gender discrimination, we have to make an effort to be global, for small businesses to match big companies and to small investment funds to be more similar to world funds. And the best way to do it is investing in that which will make us equal and global: invest in women to provide them opportunities equal to those of men.


Chauvinism on-line with a price

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Mujer triste

Chauvinism has been present in Spanish society during centuries. The last decades there has been an effort to eradicate it and, with certain achievement, chauvinist demonstrations have decreased and are evermore criticized. But some people still portray chauvinist arguments and the use of social networks and on-line platforms have become a speaker for them to get to a broader audience. This is the case of Álvaro Reyes, who defines himself as “one of the major experts in seduction” of the country.

“Don’t wait for her permission. Feel with the right to do whatever you feel like. Asking for permission is a symptom of insecurity”. This is just one of many of his advices published through social networks or websites by the “expert in seduction” whose real name is Jeremias Pérez. At least he will no longer be able to publish these things on Twitter since his account was closed down after an article published in reported his business. And this newspiece also awakened the use of the hashtag #MiAcosoNoEsTuNegocio (translated to #MyAbuseIsNotYourBusiness).

Jeremías Pérez has given a number of courses and workshops on “seduction” around the Spanish territory, obtaining between 300 and 750 euros per session. This man made a living out of this and of the success of his Youtube channel.

Del Bass also shares the ideals that Álvaro Reyes and he promoted them in his website, ‘Seducción y Superación’ (translated to ‘Seduction and Superation’). Among his opinions, one can read the following, clearly chauvinist: “the problem appears when women, without even being conscient about it, start to act like men, in a promiscuous manner… if you take a look at the school playground, you will see girls who are 14 or 15 years old dressed like boys, almost a 100% wear pants, their body languaje and posture is masculine and they even speak like guys, and I personally hope this can go back to its origin”.

Sadly, the abuse of Reyes has gone unpunished before and he himself explains that experience in his website. During the filming of his video under the name ‘El beso ciego’ (‘The blind kiss’), where he kissed girls on the street without their consent, one of them decided to report it to the police but there was no further measure because, according to Álvaro Reyes, he told the policemen that he had confused her with his girlfriend. Then he adds that he “had to be smart” to avoid any punishment. And when the social networks started to criticize him for his abusive actions, he stated that this was “bullshit” and he added that these were feminazis that have nothing better to do and so they criticize”.

Ever since the news piece talking about Reyes’ and Del Bass’ business and reporting their chauvinism and gender violence was published in, there is hope that these actions will receive a social and legal response and won’t go unpunished once more, because if they do, we will be stepping back in the fight against chauvinism and gender discrimination; a fight that we should never abandon.


Bring back our girls

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Bring back our girls

Almost 230 girls, all of them in ages between 12 and 15 years old, had been kidnapped in Northen Nigeria. The reason underlying this action (if kidnapped could be justified), is that women should not receive an education.

The city of Chibok, Northern Nigeria, was one of the few county’s cities that used to invest in the women’s education. Now, since the disappearance of nearly 230 girls went to the school the morning of April 14th and did not come back to their homes, maybe other cities will refrain from their initiatives of investing in women’s education. Boko Haram would have achieved his goal. Read More