Available now: read more about the Wilson Center and Women Public Service Project's conversations about global gender parity in the 2017 Concordia Annual Summit Report here.

As global leaders gather in New York for the UN General Assembly, the Women in Public Service Project continues to ensure that gender parity remains at the forefront of policy discussions. Director Gwen K. Young was on the ground at the Concordia Annual Summit and other events discussing the 50x50 vision of 50% women's representation globally by 2050 - and the actions we can take now to get there.

Talking Parity at the Concordia Annual Summit

Stakeholder Roundtable on Data for Parity


Accelerating gender parity in public service leadership is critical to promoting economic growth and sustainable development globally. Equal representation in decision-making allows for a fuller understanding of essential points of view, distinctive vision and skillsets that women can bring to the table. Yet despite the global benefits of equal representation, there is no comprehensive framework to demonstrate where women are in decision-making around the world.

To address this challenge, the Women in Public Service Project is developing a global index of where women are in public service leadership, how they got there, and the power they hold in these positions. The index, set for a preliminary rollout of data from 50 countries in October 2017, was introduced to key stakeholders in the gender equality space during the WPSP roundtable Evidence to Action: Women’s Leadership in Governments at the Concordia Annual Summit. Laura Cox Kaplan, Corporate and Nonprofit Board Member and former Partner-in-Charge of Public Policy at PriceWaterhouseCoopers, moderated a discussion with Gwen K. Young, Director of the Women in Public Service Project and Martin Forst, Head of Division for Governance Reviews and Partnerships, OECD.

Gwen YoungDuring the roundtable, Young presented the framework and some of the initial findings of the Global Women’s Public Leadership Index. She emphasized the need for a strong evidence base to drive progress toward gender parity in public service leadership, noting that the Index will fill a critical gap in existing knowledge by providing a multifaceted view of women’s leadership across sectors.

Forst also outlined the work of the OECD promoting gender equality globally. He illustrated the gaps in representation, particularly in higher Martin Forstleadership positions, in the legislative, judiciary, and civil service sectors. He reiterated Young’s call for comprehensive, sex-disaggregated data collection to inform policies and practices globally.

Following the presentations, Laura Cox Kaplan led a discussion among the panelists as well as a Q&A conversation with audience members. The panelists emphasized the importance of women’s leadership to foster innovative decision-making, outlined existing institutional barriers to parity, and noted the necessity of cross-sector engagement in the global effort toward gender parity.

The Global Women's Public Leadership Index will be available in October 2017. Sign up for updates to learn more about this and other WPSP initiatives accelerating progress toward global gender parity!

Plenary: A Conversation with Christine Lagarde

Wilson Center President, Director and CEO and WPSP Board member Jane Harman sat down with Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the IMF during a plenary session at the Concordia Annual Summit. In addition to discussing their experiences as women leaders, Harman and Lagarde both emphasized the need for a strong evidence base to support progress toward gender parity.

Key Quotes:

"I'm totally convinced that measuring is key," said Lagarde, noting that in her experience "the difficulty we have is disaggregating data by gender ... trying to disaggregate and go deep into what is gender-related is extremely important." 

"We don't hear enough about the women in the middle, the women coming up from behind," added Harman, highlighting the importance of reaching and supporting emerging women leaders.

"The real success of Africa going forward will be charted by the women of Africa," - Hon. Jane Harman


Championing Parity: Gwen K. Young Interviews Jane Harman

During the Summit, WPSP Director Gwen K. Young sat down with Wilson Center Director, President and CEO and former Congresswoman Jane Harman. She described her experience as a woman leader in public office, describing it as "an incredible honor for someone who had dreamt about public office since John Kennedy run for president. It was the fulfillment of a dream.”

Harman also emphasized the importance of support networks for women leaders, including visible role models and open exchange of ideas. 

Her advice for aspiring women leaders? "Don't blink. Do it." 

Reception with Christine Lagarde

Closing out the series of conversations, WPSP joined the Wilson Center and Oppenheimer & Co., Inc. for a private reception with Christine Lagarde. In her remarks, Lagarde reiterated the need for a data-driven evidence base around women's leadership, highlighting WPSP's data collection and analysis as a strong foundation for this effort.