Conversations Unscripted is a multistakeholder initiative that brings together European leaders to explore avenues to reduce the gender gap in the fields of politics and technology. Through this platform we aim to address the challenges that women face in Europe in forging careers in politics and technology. By bringing together stakeholders committed to achieving greater gender equality and advocating for further empowerment of women in Europe, we aim to create an ecosystem that will enable open conversations on gender equality, storytelling, and personal growth and to identify potential solutions to bridge the gender gap in these key fields.
discussing the challenges and obstacles and proposing solutions that will contribute to Europe’s gender equality ambitions.
bringing gender advocates to the front and centre of Europe’s political debates around technology. Convening stakeholders active in this field to address the gender gap through a cross-sector and multistakeholder approach that enables relationship building.
creating an inspiring environment for current and future European leaders, one that reinforces the voices of the next generation of leaders and creates a platform to voice concerns and share expectations for the future.
On November 13th and 14th, Conversations Unscripted participated in the Reykjavik Global Forum (RGF). Celebrating its 6th edition, the RGF brought together 500 mostly women leaders from 80 countries from myriad of sectors, including government, private sector, academia and civil society.
The event is co-hosted by the Icelandic Government and Icelandic Parliament, in partnership with Women Political Leaders (WPL), and it is positioned as the Davos for Women.
Europe is facing times of both challenge and opportunity, driven by a post-pandemic recovery and its economic and societal ramifications. But also driven by globalization, geopolitical shifts such as the on-going Russian war of aggression in Ukraine or generational challenges such as the climate crisis. All of it amplified by the digital transformation that we are in the middle of.
Conversations Unscripted will bring together participants from civil society, policy-making circles and the tech sector in a debate on how to make cyber space safer for all, and for women in particular.
Technology has become a defining factor in global geopolitical affairs, shaping foreign policy and diplomacy. Digital issues have become intertwined with discussions on everything from national security and defence, to content regulation or artificial intelligence. No matter what item on the global agenda we are looking at, technology is part of the challenge and the solution.
Like technology, gender and diversity are also integrated into Europe’s response to these global challenges and its contribution to a rules-based multilateral order. As the European Union pushes for greater women’s empowerment and gender equality through its 2020-2025 Gender Action Plan (GAPIII) including via its commitment to ensure 85% of all new actions throughout external relations will contribute to gender equality and women's empowerment by 2025, Conversations Unscripted will take stock of Europe’s progress towards promoting gender equality in its external action. Including, how the Brussels Effect is also shaping the gender equality agenda globally.
As the general shortage of ICT specialists persists on the European Union market, the number of ICT vacancies continues to rise. According to the 2022 Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) 55% of enterprises continue to report difficulties In filling these job openings. In this context, there is also an acute problem of gender imbalance, with only “19% of ICT specialists and one in three science, technology, engineering and/or mathematics (STEM) graduates being women”.
Women’s undererpresentation in the technology sector may affect the way digital solutions are developed and deployed, and hinder Europe’s ambition to become Fit for the Digital Age. Progress in addressing this persistent gender gap is rather slow despite the momentum for change being driven by the EU.
Women talent is crucial for Europe’s growth. Europe’s digital transformation has given rise to a number of opportunities and challenges which have underlined the gender gap in critical fields such as technology, research, and innovation. As the European Union pushes for greater women’s empowerment and gender equality through its 2020-2025 Gender Equality Strategy, the first edition of the Conversations Unscripted series will take stock of Europe’s achievements and lessons learnt and reflect on the next steps. With the aim of fostering an environment that supports women’s success, we will bring together leaders from key European Institutions, Member States, and the tech industry to work together in support of these ambitions and create an enabling environment for higher women participation in European politics and technology, as well as contribute to Europe’s Gender Equality strategy.
Conversations Unscripted is a multistakeholder initiative. Find out more about our partners and expand your own network.
The Womenpreneur Initiative is a Brussels-based organisation with a focus on advancing women in entrepreneurship, technology, innovation, and society. We meet our goals through a variety of entrepreneurial activities, mentorship sessions, leadership programs, technology education, networking events, and other opportunities. Our goals at Womenpreneur Initiative are simple:
What started with a program of 10 women has grown to over 16,000 women across the world, connecting the concerns, dreams, hopes, and talents of women worldwide. Noting the marked similarities between the challenges facing women in Belgium, the rest of Europe, and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), the Womenpreneur Initiative works to create bridges between Europe and the MENA region to lift more women out of poverty and economic instability through opportunities to pursue careers in tech and entrepreneurship. Since its establishment in 2016, Womenpreneur has reached 16,000 women across different countries, to drive visibility, social impact, and resources for women in the ecosystem and beyond. Womenpreneur is a not-for-profit organization, initially created to support women in the MENA region. Now it expanded to reach more than 500 women in different countries every year to help them grow scalable businesses, accompany them through the process of delivering their initiatives, and address the key challenges impacting the growth of female led business initiatives. Womenpreneur offers programs on women empowerment, entrepreneurship and business development and provide various platforms to revisit and reconstruct better foundational beliefs and ideas on gender issues. Womenpreneur has been nominated for the Change Making Initiative by the World Bank, organised initiatives and events for more than 3000 participants in the last 2 years, and has representatives in 10 countries. Womenpreneur advises United Nations and European Union, corporate and other international institutions on women’s empowerment, inclusion, diversity and gender policy. Womenpreneur has been named among SE100 most inspiring Social Innovations and Social Entrepreneurship initiatives by Social Enablers. Womenpreneur was heavily involved in SDGs discussions, helped to draft resolutions and recommendations designed to promote women empowerment. Womenpreneur’s representatives and members spoke in more than 40 countries at universities, panel discussions and international events. Womenpreneur appeared on various channels and media; at the Huffingtonpost, Devex, PeopleTV, El Pais, NATO Association, Le Matin, Orange Magazine…
WIIS Brussels was born in the early 2000s as a loose group of volunteers with the aim to advance gender equality in the Brussels based security & defence sector and change the status quo. Registered as a not-for-profit association in 2013, WIIS Brussels became a key player in gender and security policy discussions beyond its membership and is dedicated to advancing the missing voices around the security table. WIIS Brussels is organising networking opportunities and events with experts, providing trainings and mentoring for its members and is producing a podcast. WIIS Brussels belongs to the global family of approximately 50 independent chapters around the world.
The Brussels Binder is the go-to resource for improving gender balance in policy debates. The Brussels Binder is a common good – a free database consisting of profiles of female experts based in Europe. It covers a multitude of sectors and it is constantly growing. Finally, it is a place where women experts connect and exchange. For conference organisers, using the Brussels Binder is an easy, free and quick way to get access to a Europe-wide network of quality speakers. For experts, it is a tool to increase the visibility and impact of their analysis.
We live in a rapidly-changing world. Advances in cloud computing, data analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence are transforming how we live, work and play. Technology has the potential to drive immense social and economic progress across Europe – but it also raises complex questions and concerns that need to be addressed.
Microsoft’s mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. Our work in Brussels is focused on creating the right frameworks to ensure that every European can make the most of digital opportunities, without compromising on the fundamental values which underpin our societies. Policies are needed to equip citizens with the education, skills and training they need to embrace technological innovations and the jobs of the future. And in shaping the rules for Europe’s digital transition, a balance must also be struck between privacy and security. Achieving these goals is a responsibility we share.
We are committed to open, transparent and accountable engagement around a range of policy issues, including data protection, cybersecurity, sustainability, accessibility and digital skills.
To advance discussions on the digital policy issues shaping Europe in the digital age, the Microsoft Center in Brussels hosts a range of public events throughout the year.