The number of women who speak at key policy-shaping conferences across Europe is far below that of their male peers. Looking at five years of high-level conferences in Europe, this report finds that a woman has only one opportunity to speak for every three times a man speaks.
The situation is not improving, but it can. Two conferences of the 23 conferences included in the report have shown that, with a concerted effort, they can drastically increase the number of female speakers and move toward gender parity. The onus is now on governments, businesses, and conference organizers to ensure they are sending and receiving representative delegations at these events.
Conference organizers are the gatekeepers to the stage. This is a big responsibility. They make decisions about who will have the opportunity to share their views with heads of state, policymakers, and business leaders. Journalists report the statements of these speakers to audiences around the world. Prioritizing gender balance over seniority can stop help counter inequality in our societies by allowing women a fair say on policy and allowing female role models to come to the fore.