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Sara Millan My GWL Voices Story

By Sara Millán Vivar, Universidad de Barcelona, Spain

I had the privilege of participating in the transformative GWL Voices Dialogue held in Madrid from 21-22 January, organized by GWL Voices, a group of over 70 international women leaders from diverse backgrounds who fight in unity for a common goal – creating a gender-equal multilateral system to address current global challenges effectively. The Dialogue highlighted the Her Turn initiative, which advocates for transferring experiences and knowledge across generations to empower younger voices to actively contribute to shaping our present and future.

The Dialogue featured influential figures, including Pedro Sánchez, the President of Spain, and strong supporters of GWL Voices’ mission –remarkable women such as Hillary Clinton, Maria Fernanda Espinosa, Michelle Bachelet, and many others. These extraordinary women have paved the way for younger generations by striving to create a better future for all and becoming the inspiration and role models they did not have during their time.

Indeed, multilateralism should guarantee that everyone is represented. As Michelle
Bachelet once said: "When a woman enters politics, the woman changes. When many
women enter politics, politics change."

Sara Millán VivarUniversidad de Barcelona

While all these women leaders have achieved significant contributions to our society, GWL Voices’ 2024 flagship report, “Women in Multilateralism 2024” revealed a concerning reality: only 13% of elected leaders in the 54 largest multilateral organizations since 1945 have been women.

Among the remarkable insights I learned during the Dialogue, I want to highlight that when women thrive, our society thrives, and consequently, our planet thrives.

Moreover, GWL Voices Dialogue underscored the imperative of a more inclusive approach, ensuring diverse voices in the decision-making process, including people from the Global South, Indigenous Peoples, youth, and other marginalized groups often overlooked. Increasing the involvement of women, especially those who identify with intersectional feminism, alongside a broader spectrum of diversity in decision-making processes leads to better and more sustainable outcomes. Hence, it is crucial to place gender and diversity at the core of humanity’s challenges. For instance, Indigenous Peoples are stewards of 80% of the world’s biodiversity, and learning from their traditional knowledge about the ecosystems and their different cosmovisions would help us to live in harmony with nature and achieve a meaningful and sustainable world.

Another key takeaway was the call for a holistic perspective when addressing global
challenges, acknowledging the interconnected nature of current pressing issues, and
advocating for inclusive policies that respond to local needs while addressing broader
international concerns. Indeed, even if we need to think globally, we must act locally.

Sara Millán VivarUniversidad de Barcelona

Finally, despite being controversial, I find the issue raised at the Dialogue, focusing primarily on the developed countries, interesting: Can the current paradigm of ongoing growth, measured solely by GDP and economic indicators, be socially and environmentally sustainable? I defend the alternative of transitioning to a new idea of progress that accounts for environmental and social costs instead of simply considering them “externalities.” A sustainable alternative that defends human development should place the environment and society at its core, including human rights, diversity, inclusion, and social equity as the basis for building.

Throughout the Dialogue, a recurring question echoed: “How would the world be if women had a real presence in the power that rightfully belongs to them?” It’s time for us to discover that. I believe it’s Women’s Turn to Reshape the Future, and now, more than ever, it’s our turn to speak up, especially to “not give in and not give up.”
Now, more than ever, It’s Our Turn.

Special thanks to everyone who made this memorable experience possible.