Opening speech of Ms. Boryana Manolova

Global Women Leaders’ Forum

Official opening

National Art Gallery

May 18th 2016

Sofia, Bulgaria

Opening speech of Ms. Boryana Manolova, Chairperson of the Executive Board of Council of Women in Business in Bulgaria 

Dear Mr. President,

Your Excellency Sheikh Hasina,

Mrs. Bokova,

Mrs. Mayor,

Ladies and gentlemen, dear guests and members of the Council of Women in Business in Bulgaria,

First I would like to thank you for your presence here at this forum, which I hope will become a traditional platform for the exchange of ideas and the promotion of progress in the field of gender equality worldwide. I wish to express gratitude to UNESCO and especially to Mrs. Irina Bokova, who not only agreed to be patron of the Global Women Leaders’ Forum, but she and her team put enormous efforts during the organization of this event.

The world today is in constant motion and success requires an adequate response and quick adaptation to changing realities – qualities that are usually associated with men. More and more women manage to break into this environment, imposing a new style of governance and redefining gender roles in business, politics, media, science, culture and society.

Today, women are undoubtedly the fastest growing economic force on the planet and no company or country can afford to ignore this potential. Unfortunately, this does not mean that the road to the growth of women in the profession is covered with roses. The “thorns” which they face in their career development may be severe and numerous.

How to find the right balance? How to effectively combine work and family life? Whether to bet on purely human and close relationships with the team in which I have a genuine interest and promote new ideas or to stick to the stereotype of the lone leader? How to react when I feel unappreciated because of the fact that I’m a woman? These are just some of the issues with which women on leadership positions around the world, including Bulgaria, are confronted with almost daily. And very often it is difficult to give a definite answer.

In this respect, the lack of mentoring can be detrimental and ultimately lead to loss of passion at work. Conversely, access to mentoring can help women leaders to come out of a critical situation in the best possible way, building on the experience and guidance of other ladies who have already passed along this road. This is where we see the mission of the Council of Women in Business in Bulgaria – to help promoting the professional development of women and their growth in the hierarchy through contacts, mentoring and good examples.

Let me briefly touch upon some of the flagship initiatives of the Council. For the third consecutive year, the Leadership Academy organized by us, will be launched in June, enabling ladies of middle management and owners of small and medium enterprises to upgrade their skills to run a business, to learn new tactics for managing a team, get good advice and guidance. The initiative is under the patronage of Mrs. Yordanka Fandakova, Mayor of Sofia , and is free to its participants.

A few weeks ago the second edition of our National Traineeship initiative was launched. It enables ambitious and smart young people from across the country to make the first steps in their careers in one of the companies of the Council.

Another project on which the Council worked actively over the past two years is the new law on gender equality, which was adopted a few days ago in parliament. We were invited as consultants by the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy and came up with concrete proposals for legislation.

As you can see, even though we are a relatively young organization, we have set high goals and work hard to achieve them – as only a woman can do. Let me end with a quote from a truly remarkable lady – Eleanor Roosevelt: “To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart”.

The wife of the 32nd President of the USA Franklin Delano Roosevelt knew what she was talking about. It would be hard today to give a clearer definition to what differentiates women leaders, regardless of the sphere they’ve chosen to work in. Many of these women are here today, among us, serving as an example and inspiration to thousands of young girls and women, who are about to choose their path of development.

I believe that the adoption of the Declaration of Sofia, with which the Global Women Leaders’ Forum will end, will put another milestone on the road to full and genuine gender equality in all spheres of life.

So I would like to thank you again for your support and wish you good luck and success!

May 18, 2016
Sofia, Bulgaria

Dr. Eng. Boryana Manolova
Chairperson of the Executive Board of CWBB

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