WOMEN: the world’s largest emerging market

On October 1, 2020, the European Brand Institute in cooperation with UNIDO and partners such as ÖBB, NOVOMATIC, Wolf Theiss, DiePresse, US Embassy, invited to the 8th WOMEN LEADERSHIP FORUM for the first time at the Vienna International Centre, carried out as a hybrid event due to COVID-19. The focus has been on women as the biggest market opportunity as the female economy is the largest emerging market in the world. Female leaders, experts and participants from around the globe gathered online and on site at the VIC to exchange experiences and discussed how to empower women and achieve gender equality. 

Women are the heart of the community

Fatou Haidara, Managing Director UNIDO, emphasized that the inclusion of women in entrepreneurial and leadership positions increases the quality and effectiveness of risk management while promoting gender equality. “Women are the heart of the community!”proclaimed Haidara. U.S. Ambassador H.E. Trevor D. Traina stated that there are many men who would appreciate to see more women in leadership positions. The Covid-19 pandemic faces women with even more challenges than before, therefore they should be supported more than ever.

Under the direction of Elisa Aichinger, Director Deloitte Consulting, Andrea Gritsch, Managing Partner Wolf Theiss Rechtsanwälte, Divine Ndhlukula, Chairwoman of the National Chamber of Commerce in Zimbabwe and Bibusa Wißemann, CEO SensXafrica, discussed in the panel "Reinventing leadership for shared prosperity" why women remain a rarity in leadership positions. “The importance of gender equality in business, corporate governance and politics is underestimated and undervalued. We need to counteract this, ”said Elisa Aichinger.


Do it like a chameleon

Ranya Nehmeh, author of “The Chameleon Leader” gave insights into what millennials, who will make up 75% of the workforce worldwide in 2025, expect from leaders and recommendations for action which requirements leaders should meet.

Silvia Angelo, board member of ÖBB Infrastruktur AG, Francine Beleyi, founder and digital strategist nucles of change, Christiane Noll, Country Manager Avanade DACH and Silvia Rathgeb, Director University Alliances SAP, showed how women can benefit from the new digital tools in the professional world. Silvia Angelo: “Digitization could be a gamechanger for women because we usually have male-dominated jobs in infrastructure.” Francine Beleyi added: “Empowering women with digital tools is really hugely important, because nowadays the  digital tool is  a lifeline. "


In her powerful closing remarks, Africa Goodwill Ambassador H.E. Justina Mutale, CEO of the Justina Mutale Leadership Foundation, provides valuable tips on moving forward: “More than learning what we need to do as women is unlearning: unlearning the social and cultural conditioning, as well as the institutional conditioning that has limited women's potential. "



29. SEPTEMBER 2021 



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Women as the largest market opportunity globally

Under the motto WOMEN.FOR.PROSPERITY "What is taking so long?" Renate Altenhofer, initiator and founder of the Women Leadership Forum, welcomed the international participants on site and online: “The female economy is the world’s largest emerging market. With 80% of buying decisions, this Women Emerging Market represents the largest market opportunity globally – even bigger than China and India combined.” Sonja Kato, managing director of unikato, led through the day.

Sophie Karmasin, Founder Karmasin Research & Identity, presented a recent study on stereotypes of men and women that need to be drastically changed, because an altered image could be the first step towards change and progress. 


Nicole Smith, Director of Budget Execution at the European Commission, confirmed the need for stereotypes to be broken up and left behind. In his visionary  and inspiring keynote Hjörtur Smarason, Founder and Director School of Astronaut Leadership Training S.A.L.T., spanned the bow from Iceland's first female president to the first woman to be on the moon in 2024.


Reduce biases

In the Masterclass Successful Women Entrepreneurs, Aysegül Baykal, Deputy Director for private and institutional investors-CEE at Schoellerbank, Anna Maslon-Oracz, lecturer at Warsaw University, Monika Racek, CEO of ADMIRAL Casinos & Entertainment AG, Wiebke Schloemer, Director Europe and Central Asia at International Finance Corporation and Martha Schultz, Vice-President WKÖ and Chairwoman of Women in Business Austria discussed how women gain better access to capital, markets, networks and mentoring. Monika Racek: “There aren’t really legal barriers, but in fact there are cultural barriers. We live in a world in which we are surrounded by conscious and unconscious biases.“ Martha Schultz highlighted the importance of events like WLF: "In Austria 45% of founders are women. So it is important that we have meetings like the Women Leadership Forum so that women become visible and we have a huge network.“

Spotted at „distance“ high-level networking:

Gerhard Hrebicek, European Brand Institute, Bashir Conde, UNIDO, Gabriela Straka, Brau Union, Brigitte Maria Gruber, Frauen Fachakademie Mondsee, BM a.D. Maria Rauch-Kallat, Claudia Cordie, Professional Women’s Network, Gabriele Stanek, Unicef, Hannes Kirchbaumer, Radiant Pig, Elisabeth Schrenk, Falkensteiner, Christine Catasta, PWC, Bernadette Hawel, Women in Business Austria, Ursula Nosal, Novomatic Forum, Consulter Kristin Hanusch-Linser, Alice Burton, US Embassy, Hawa Kebe, UNIDO,  amongst others.


Goodie bags  powered by: European Brand Institute, Wolf Theiss Rechtsanwälte, L’Oreal, Tupperware, Kelly’s, Coca Cola, maxima, etc.


(c)Katharina Schiffl

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