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Thanks to our year-round commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging, the FiscalNote Executive Institute community has grown to welcome inspiring women in public affairs, ESG, geopolitical risk, and DEI. Many of them have participated in our programming, joined us for thoughtful discussions and one-on-one meetings, and been featured in our content. This year, as part of International Women’s Day, we asked them to answer a key question: 

In your opinion, what is the most important issue affecting women globally, and how can we address it?

Throughout their responses, a few common themes became very apparent: healthcare, education, equal rights, representation, and inclusion. We grouped their responses into two broad areas. Here’s what they said:

Health and Education

“Health is the single most important issue affecting women globally. It is the foundation of economies and societies everywhere, and without healthy women, democracies, companies, financial systems, stability, and peace will fail. Women’s health has been on the back burner for far too long — including basic preventive care, emotional health, and safety — and the pandemic only made this worse. When leaders from all sectors can put women’s health first, especially access to regular care and the right to make healthcare decisions, we can all succeed.” Shaila Manyam, Executive Vice President and Managing Director, Corporate and Public Affairs at BCW Global

“In my opinion, among the most pressing issues affecting women globally is investment in women’s education and healthcare. Everywhere around the world, education can lead to improved opportunities, and access to quality healthcare is fundamental to thrive. Building awareness, advocating for improvements, and allocating resources to organizations dedicated to solving these problems worldwide is one way to address this gap.” Marian Macindoe, Head of ESG Stewardship at Parnassus Investments

“I would love to see more women in STEM. It is a massive opportunity to give women more access to opportunities and leadership. As we build the future, women’s voices and experiences at the table will make the world more inclusive and help us correct historic injustice.” Olga Mack, Vice President & CEO at Parley Pro, LexisNexis

“The most important issue facing women globally is the staggering rates of maternal mortality. According to the UN, a woman dies during pregnancy or childbirth every two minutes. Although some progress happened over the last two decades, women’s reproductive health has still not been prioritized and maternal mortality rates have risen sharply in Latin America, Europe, the Caribbean, and North America. We must do better.” Mary Kate Cunningham, CAE Senior Vice President, Public Policy at ASAE: The Center for Association Leadership

“We need to normalize talking about women’s health issues, and put her voice at the center of the discussion. Include her. Listen to her. Decide with her and not for her.” Erin Byrne, Interim Executive Director and Distinguished Executive in Residence, Rutgers Institute for Corporate Social Innovation

“It’s hard to focus on just one thing, but if I had to pick just one, I would say it’s girls’ education. According to UNESCO, worldwide 129 million girls are out of school due to poverty, insecurity, child marriage, and a lot of other factors. This is depriving their societies and communities of their talents, leadership, and opportunities to improve their own lives and the lives of their families and communities. In terms of addressing it, there are a lot of efforts underway by both public organizations and private foundations to support these initiatives, but more needs to happen.” Martina Bozadzhieva, Chief Research Officer at FrontierView

Equal Rights, Representation, and Inclusion

“For me, one of the most important issues affecting women globally is having and obtaining equal rights, which also includes equal protections and equal treatment. We need to work together in order to educate the world on the importance of the many contributions to (and sacrifices for) their families and their communities that women make every day; advocate for policies and resources that are designed to uplift and empower women; and commit to speaking with empathy and kindness to all of the women whose paths you cross as you move along on life’s journey.” Gamble Hayden, Coordinator, Federal Compliance Services and DEI Initiatives at State and Federal Communications 

“We have made great strides toward gender equality in recent decades. However, companies and governments need to do much more in terms of increasing women’s economic, political, and social inclusion. This is especially urgent due to the disproportionately negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the current economic downturn, on women globally.” Dr. Megha Kumar, Deputy Director of Analysis (Cybersecurity and Technology) at Oxford Analytica

“You know we have a problem when even search and AI engines show mostly men when cued ‘CEO.’ 🤦‍♀️ 🤖 Representation matters; when we do not see ourselves represented, we do not have a model for the behaviour and representation we want to see. For March 8, I want to encourage women to be the leader you want to see, and the representation you want to have. If you don’t have a platform, you are the platform: we can set a new course together.” Valentina Vecchio, Global Sustainability Policy & Partnerships Strategic Engagement & Execution Lead at Boeing

“The most important issue affecting women globally? That there is no single most important issue. We must develop creative approaches to multidimensional challenges in multiple contexts — from the village school to the corporate boardroom. We must break through the barriers,be they in law, tradition, or socioeconomic circumstances, that deprive women of their aspirations, capacities, and contributions. The most important tenet? Upholding women’s dignity, security, and prospects for human flourishing.” Dr. Isabella D. Bunn, International Advisory Council at Oxford Analytica 

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