PWI Brussels: International Women's Day - Embracing Equity

Professional Women International Brussels, the PWN Brussels City Network, has been organising the International Women's Day Gala for a few years to celebrate women's empowerment and promote gender balance topics. 

PWI Brussels was created in 1991, providing a forum for women to grow and supporting gender balance across Belgium. The annual PWI IWD Gala event is a celebration of the achievements and contributions of women, with a strong focus on advancing gender balance and equality in the professional sphere. 

The 2023 event was centered around this year's theme of International Women's Day, #EmbracingEquity, to draw attention to the fact that equal opportunities alone do not guarantee true inclusion and belonging. People start from different places, so true inclusion and belonging require equitable action. Recognizing that people start from different places, the event aimed to promote fair actions to advance gender balance and equality in our communities. 

The event gathered inspirational global voices with a track record of supporting and promoting equity in their workplaces and communities. 

The event started with the speech of Anaida Dibra (PWI Brussels President), who stated that "PWI Brussels is a place of co-creation, a community of women and men allies, who work together to advance women empowerment and gender equity.

The three keynote speakers of the evening, Leanne Chamberlain, CFO, McDonald's International Operated Markets, Sana Afouaiz - Founder and CEO, Womenpreneur-Initiative and Veerle Peeters - Director, Cyber Governance, Deloitte Belgium,  addressed important gender balance issues. Here are some key takeaways from their speeches:

  • A recent study shows that for every woman promoted to a director position, two are leaving their company. There needs to be structural and cultural changes to empower more female leadership in our organizations. Implementing organizational structures that can recognise and eliminate various barriers, such as pay inequity, biased hiring practices, and microaggressions, are all key strategies in achieving this change.
  • Another topic addressed was the challenges that women face globally. The audience was encouraged to think beyond gender inequality and consider the broader issues of humanity and women's restrictions in different cultures. It is up to everyone to create change in our communities by addressing key inequality issues and taking small but steady steps in the right direction.
  • Finally, equity was also addressed from another angle: equitable access to support, training, and education adapted to each individual and their talents. Equitable practices in the workplace can help talented individuals to reach their potential, regardless of their background or technical expertise. 

PWI Brussels TeamThe interventions of these three global leaders empowered the audience with clear examples and actionable advice on how each participant can generate change in their community. Equity is not yet another buzz word but a call for fair chances for everyone, regardless of background. We can all embrace and promote equity, not just on a dedicated day but every single day, by speaking out in our environments and communities, encouraging diversity, advocating for equitable opportunities, and taking appropriate actions suitable to our context and background. 

After the keynote speeches, participants were able to engage with one another and network. The event gathered 100 participants from diverse backgrounds, from corporate, non-profit, and the public sector. The networking session allowed participants to exchange around #EmbracingEquity, create new connections, and build bridges. 

PWI Brussels remains committed to supporting women in their professional journeys through its various programs and resources. As we reflect on this year's theme of #EmbracingEquity, let us all strive for equitable action to advance gender balance and equity in our communities. And let's all embrace equity, not just on International Women's Day, but every day.

Be part of this global movement, read more about this year's theme of Embracing Equity, and see how you can support the cause. 


Date: April 2023
Author: Raluca Brebeanu, PWI Brussels

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