The 17th BPW Europe Conference and 9th Young BPW Symposium is now a wonderful memory for all who participated at the events in Iceland. Reflecting back on the Conference and Young Symposium I would say the best memories we took with us are the meetings with longtime friends and members of BPW who came to Iceland. Your joy and happiness of being at the Conference and meeting other members created the positive and warm atmosphere.
The BPW Iceland organizing Committee faced tremendous challenges preparing for the Conference. The Covid-19 and armed conflict in Ukraine caused problems the Club could not have anticipated in 2018 when the bidding for the Conference hosting country took place. Amid all difficulties 250 members around the world from 25 countries participated in Iceland. The theme of the Conference was Equality.
The highlights of the Conference were formidable presentations from Icelandic women – the Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir, First Lady Eliza Reid, EU Commissioner of Equality Helena Dalli, Áslaug Arna Sigurbjörnsdóttir Minister of Science, Industry and Innovation, Sigríður Björk Guðjónsdóttir National Police Commissioner, Sigríður Hrund Pétursdóttir Chairwoman of the Association of Women Entrepreneurs and ohter wonderful speakers. From every speech the message that echoed was that women must step out and take the positions they want, not wait to be offered. Every life experience has some lesson to teach and make a woman resilient and more self-aware. Iceland is known as a strong country of gender equality, but Icelandic women still feel there is a long way to go regardless the voluntary quotas implemented by many Iceland political parties and employers.
Workshops held at the Conference focused on Equality related topics – „Together towards gender equality “, „Inclusive Leadership“, „Charter on the Girls Rights“, „Together in Green and Sustainable World“, „Career paths“, „Cross Cultural Connections“, „Women Reshaping the World after Covid-19“ and others. The most popular workshop with 90 participants was „Inclusive Leadership: The Skills to Manage Diverse Teams, Talents and Ideas“ by the Learning for Leadership Working Group. Inclusive Leadership is the key to the changing work conditions and involvement of all people on every level of employment. The main points in the workshop were: the benefits of diversity and inclusion, your ability to be an inclusive leader = self-awareness, the tools of an inclusive leader. Participants were introduced these points through practical exercises and teamwork.
The 9th Young BPW Symposium took place under the lead of Sheerah Kim the BPW Europe Communication Officer and the Young Team. Young members approached the theme Equality from a different angle – the Equity - and pointed out that equality does not always mean that everyone gets the same amount, but that things must be approached in the context of honesty and creating equal opportunities, as an example the situation where two people, one short and the other tall, get seats next to each other at the concert, one can see and the other can't, it doesn't help if both get a bench under their feet, but equality is created if a shorter visitor gets a bench under the feet and a tall person can give up a bench if there is no need, giving the shorter one the chance to get two benches.
The Opening Ceremony took us to the City Hall of Reykjavik and the Farewell Party to the Golder Circle tour with visits to the biggest waterfall Gullfoss, place where the first Parliament in the World came together – Pingvellir and a wonderful dinner at the famous Geisers with dancing and farewell to meet again at the next Conference in 2025 in Malta.
Jóhanna Kristín Tómasdóttir, the President of BPW Iceland, and the Organizing Team on BPW Iceland made the Conference and the Young Symposium an unforgettable event for all participants. Thank you for the amazing Conference and wonderful memories you created!
BPW International Regional Coordinator Europe