Indian social entrepreneur and activist Chetna Sinha will be among seven all-women co-chairs for the World Economic Forum’s annual congregation of global elite in Swiss Alpine town Davos. Sinha will be joined by IMF’s Christine Lagarde, Norway Prime Minister Erna Solberg, IBM chief Ginni Rometty, ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow, CERN Director-General Fabiola Gianotti and ENGIE CEO Isabelle Kocher. This will be the first time in Geneva-based WEF’s nearly five-decade-old history that its Davos Annual Meeting would have all women co-chairs.
The event is expected to be attended by more than 3,000 global leaders from business, government, politics, academia and social sectors, including over 100 CEOs and several government leaders from India alone. This would include nearly 50 heads of state and government, over 300 ministerial-level government participants, and business representation at the CEO and Chairperson levels.
The 48th World Economic Forum Annual Meeting will take place on January 23-26 in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, under the theme ‘Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World’. The WEF, which describes itself as an international organisation for public-private cooperation and was established in 1971 as a not-for-profit foundation, hosts its annual meeting in Davos every year in January.
In a statement announcing its co-chairs for 2018 meeting, the WEF said over 3,000 leaders, representing 100 countries from around the world, will gather in a collaborative effort to shape the global, regional and industry agendas, with a commitment to improve the state of the world. Sinha has been a social entrepreneur, a microfinance banker, an economist, a farmer and an activist.
Since 1986, she has been working with marginalised communities and is Founder and President of Mann Deshi Mahila Bank and Mann Deshi Foundation. She has also partnered with global organisations to develop corporate community partnership programmes that allow the corporate sector in the US and Europe to gain a unique view of the impact that microfinance initiatives have on the local rural population.
Among other co-chairs, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Lagarde has been a regular at Davos and became the first woman to helm the IMF in 2011, while Burrow of International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) is known as an expert on education, industrial relations and social policy. Gianotti became the first female Director-General of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) last year, while ENGIE’s Kocher is the first Frenchwoman to lead a company in Paris’s CAC 40 stock market benchmark index.
The WEF, which has been criticised in the past in some quarters for relatively lower women presence, said these co-chairs represent both the public and private sectors, international organisations, organised labour, academia and science as well as civil society and social entrepreneurship. “They will lend a strong voice to all parts of society, ensuring a multistakeholder approach to the programme and eventually the impact of the Annual Meeting 2018,” it added.
The Forum further said the programme of the 2018 Annual Meeting will explore the root causes of, and pragmatic solutions for, the manifold political, economic and social fractures facing global society today. “Creating a shared future in a fractured world requires addressing issues on the global agenda in a holistic, interconnected and future-oriented way,” WEF’s Founder and Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab said.