Women’s Business Summit Looks at Post-COVID Economy
32-year-old Summit convenes leaders in business, government and civil society to reboot women’s economic progress post-pandemic
Over 600 women leaders from 52 countries were welcomed by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha at the Global Summit of Women’s Opening Ceremony held at the Bangkok Convention Center today. Delegates to the three-day Summit include Kosovo's President Vjosa Osmani, the Vice President of Vietnam Vo Thi Anh Xuan, women Ministers, government officials, and business leaders from four continents. This year marks the first time Thailand has hosted this prestigious international event in the Summit’s 32-year history.
Led by its President Irene Natividad, the Summit opened on June 22nd with the ringing of the opening bell at the Stock Exchange of Thailand by members of the Thailand Host Committee led by Kobkarn Wattanavrangul, former Minister of Tourism & Sports, and the Summit’s International Planning Committee. “Women opening stock exchanges are rare globally, so having one here in Thailand signals the emerging group of women leading companies in this country’s dynamic economy,” states Natividad.
“We are also pleased to hold this global gathering in a country cited by Bloomberg as having 40% women’s leadership of Thailand’s major enterprises,” adds Natividad, since the Summit’s 32-year focus is on facilitating women’s economic progress worldwide. To share a macro-view of Thailand’s economy and investment opportunities, former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and Dr. Kanit Sangsubhan presented in the opening session on “Doing Business with Thailand.” Acting on this idea, a Vietnam-Thailand BtoB Forum was a side event to the Summit that took place in the morning organized by Vietnam Chamber of Commerce & Industry with the Thailand Chamber of Commerce.
Also on Thursday, a Ministerial Roundtable brought Thailand’s Minister for Social Development Chuti Krairiksh and Deputy Minister of Education Kalaya Sophonphanich to meet with their counterparts in an exchange of different programs where government and business have collaborated to improve women’s economic opportunities.
The majority of participants, however, are hundreds of women corporate and entrepreneurial leaders from four continents. Taking place during a pandemic, the Summit’s focus is on how to revive women’s economic progress, which was set back during COVID whether through job losses or the collapse of many women-owned enterprises. Exchanges on what works in this new economic landscape, whether in terms of government policies or business practices, forms the core of the Summit sessions.
“It is a great honor for Thailand to welcome such an impressive group of women leaders from all over the world,” states Wattanavrangul. “Thai women are ready to join with their peers globally to lead in the post-COVID era.”
A major leader who has worked to improve people’s lives in stemming the spread of viruses of all kinds will be recognized on Friday, June 24th with the Global Women’s Leadership Awards that will be granted to Dr. Krisana Kraisintu, the “Pharmacist for the Poor,” who developed a generic antiretroviral drug that treated HIV at low cost, helping victims in many countries, especially in the African region.
The Summit ends on June 25th with two significant outcomes of the Bangkok Summit -- its first carbon-neutral gathering ever in the Summit’s 32-year history, implemented through the assistance of the Thai Host Committee. The other is the addition to Thailand’s Corporate Governance Code of clearer language on gender diversity in corporate boards as a necessary component of good corporate governance, implemented through a collaboration between Thailand’s Securities and Exchange Commission President Ruenvadee Suwanmongkol and Summit President Irene Natividad.
“Change benefitting women happens more quickly when we exchange ideas and winning strategies across borders, and the Summit is the platform for that transmission, states Natividad.