May 24, 2018

Women in Innovation, Science and Industry, Italian Style

Mr. Lelio Gavazza, Country Managing Director of Bvlgari , H.E. Hon. Mrs. Ankie Broekers-Knol, President of the Senate and H.E. Mr. Andrea Perugini, Ambassador of Italy.

By Andrew Gibson.

On the 11th April 2018, the Ambassador of Italy, His Excellency Mr. Andrea Perugini, hosted ‘Women in Innovation, Science and Industry’ at his residence, in an event that saw him collaborate with ‘Women Leaders International’ in bringing together top Dutch officials and titans of industry from Italy and the Netherlands.

The event was masterminded by H.E. Mr. Perugini himself, thus continuing his country’s tradition of promoting women in power, as he explained in his speech how according to the 2017 Gender Equality Index, that over the last 10 years Italy is the European Country that has achieved the widest improvements on gender equality indicators, with Italy’s score increasing by 13 points (against 4,2 as the European average) as a consequence of the so called Golfo-Mosca Law, dating from 2011, that required as of 2012 the composition of corporate boards to comprise at least 1/5 of women and from 2015 1/3 of women, and which managed to raise the amount of women in boards of directors to 29% in 2016 compared to 6% in 2011.

H.E. Andrea Perugini, Ambassador of Italy.

Among many high-profile attendees was Mrs. Ankie Broekers-Knol, incumbent of the office of President of the Senate of the Kingdom of the Netherlands since 2013, who gave opening remarks on the day and Mrs Marian Hammersma, Secretary General at the Ministry of Education and Science.

The guests were also treated to an inspiring video message from Mrs. Stientje van Veidhoven, State Secretary for Infrastructure and Water Management, who was unable to attend due to an official visit to China.

During H.E. Mr. Andrea Perugini’s speech, he shrewdly referred to the remarks of the President of the Italian Foundation Marisa Bellisario: “women in Italy are sitting at the table, but they are still not dealing the cards.” In making this reference, the Ambassador demonstrated his appreciative reflectance upon the great steps forward that have been taken within Italy to improve gender equality at the top level, whilst acknowledging that the road to full equality still has a distance left to be travelled.

Mrs. Ilona Haaijer, Former President & CEO DSM Food; Specialties, Supervisory Board member Royal Boskalis N.V.; Mrs. Gerda de Munck, President Women Leaders International, H.E. Andrea Perugini, Mrs. Marian Hammersma, Secretary General at the Ministry of Education and Science; Mrs. Ankie Broekers-Knol President of the Senate, Mrs. Cindy Gerhardt, Chief Operating Officer, Dutch State Mines Biotechnology Center,; Mr. Carla Signorini, Head of Electrical Engineering department ESA Space Research and Technology Center in the Netherlands; Mrs. Luigia Pace, Research Biologist, Italian Institute for Genomic Medicine in Turin, Italy; Mrs. Dace Luters-Thummel, Secretary General, European Women Lawyers Association and Mrs. Aura Colnaghi Calissoni, President of Carvico Group.

The President of Women Leaders International (WLI), Mrs. Gerda de Munck, also gave an empowering speech on the day. During her speech, Mrs. de Munck emphasised the importance of strengthening ties between women from all cultures and backgrounds in order to improve conditions for women at the top levels of government, industry, institutions and organisations worldwide.

Mrs. Cindy Gerhardt, Chief Operating Officer, Dutch State Mines Biotechnology Center.

Mrs. de Munck also explained the need for organisations such as WLI to promote women with ambition and to make them more visible, additionally stating that “WLI wishes to be a network of concrete relationships, aimed at building a climate of awareness able to influence economic, social and cultural spheres, with a view to having a voice in the public halls of power and drive the indispensable changes still needed in the position of women.”

In the inspiring video message sent by Mrs. Stientje van Veldhoven, she spoke of her work as State Secretary for Infrastructure and Waste Management, working as part of a three-woman team to bring about positive change in areas such as recycling. During her message she commented that “the percentage of women in leading positions is inching upwards, but at a snail’s pace”, and that “the glass ceiling…is unfortunately still firmly in place”, before pointing to the various achievements of women in the field she now operates within, such as the two women who created the world’s first house heated by solar power. Mrs. van Veldhoven closed with words of encouragement for those at the event, “we must keep hosting conferences like this…keep up the good work.”

Mrs. Ankie Broekers-Knol, Mrs. Gerda de Munck, President Women Leaders International and Mrs. Marian Hammersma, Secretary General at the Ministry of Education and Science while listening Mrs. Ilona Haaijer, Former President & CEO DSM Food Specialties, Supervisory Board member Royal Boskalis N.V.

Participating panelists were Mrs. Luigia Pace, Research Biologist, Italian Institute for Genomic Medicine in Turin, Italy; Mrs. Cindy Gerhardt, Chief Operating Officer, Dutch State Mines Biotechnology Center; Mr. Carla Signorini, Head of Electrical Engineering department ESA Space Research and Technology Center in the Netherlands; Mrs. Ilona Haaijer, Former President & CEO DSM Food Specialties, Supervisory Board member Royal Boskalis N.V.; Mrs. Aura Colnaghi Calissoni, President of Carvico Group ad Mrs. Dace Luters-Thummel, Secretary General, European Women Lawyers Association.

Prominent women leaders, Female Executives and ambassadors filled up the room; just a few men attended the event among them the Ambassador of Spain and next Director General of the OPCW, H.E. Fernando Arias.

Mrs. Ankie Broekers-Knol, President of the Senate of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, gave an uplifting message of emphatic motivation to the guests during her speech at the event. During her talk, she made reference to numerous female role models ahead of Girlsday in the Netherlands. For example, Mrs. Broekers-Knol spoke of Italian Rita Levi-Montalcini, who was raised to become a wife and a mother, but her own passion led her to a Nobel prize. The President of the Senate concluded her speech by quoting the aforementioned Rita, “Women who have changed the world have never felt the need to show anything but their intelligence”, thus rounding off a talk which inspired all that had the pleasure of being in the audience.

After the speeches, the Ambassador of Italy H.E. Mr. Andrea Perugini hosted a Question & Answer session, before inviting all guests to a Networking Buffet Dinner to conclude what was a hugely successful event in all regards.

Also on display at the event was a wonderful exhibition of Bvlgari Jewellery, which attracted great interest and adoration from all, courtesy of Mr. Lelio Gavazza, Country Managing Director of Bvlgari who came from Rome for the special occasion.

 

 

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