Lessons from the Women in the World Summit

By Business Chicks | Apr 27, 15 10:32 AM

Premium member and Bond University executive Catherine O'Sullivan explores the power of education in creating change for women.

From globally recognised leaders like Hillary Clinton to lesser-known activists against sexual violence in India, Australian Bond University Executive Catherine O’Sullivan says there’s an underlying theme from all speakers at the sixth annual Women in the World Summit: it’s that education will give you a voice and education will set you free.

Speaking from the summit in New York, Catherine says she’s heard Clinton talk on how women’s participation in the workforce can be increased by 20 per cent, former president of Ireland Mary Robinson on the coming surge in “climate refugees” in the Pacific, and Barbara Streisand on the inequity in research of heart disease, the number-one killer of women.

Catherine says, “Hillary Clinton spoke about the increased prosperity possible if the US added 20 per cent more women to its workforce but warned for it to happen the US must get the whole issue of care under control.

“The issues around care are no longer just about child care, they’re about looking after elderly parents as well and that most of that responsibility is falling to women.”

Catherine added that the summit has been tackling broad human-rights issues for women globally and some of the most confronting and powerful speakers have been lesser-known women sharing their genuine and graphic stories about fighting against sexual violence in India, or searching for missing schoolgirls in Nigeria.


She says, “So much that I’ve heard at this conference has made me think about the important leadership role that women can offer, and the heroism of these women in bringing awful but important issues to light and playing an active role in changing the conversation.”

Catherine has strong views on leadership, and says that for her, it’s about focusing on establishing meaningful and authentic relationships to inspire change and action in others. In regards to women, she believes we need more women pulling others through. 

 “I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for other brilliant women who have helped me get here, and I hope that I’m doing the same for the next generation of women. If we are to have more women in the boardroom, then women need to bring more women along with them!”

Following the summit, Catherine is off to Harvard University in Boston to attend the Women’s Leadership Board’s Annual Meeting. The Board meeting is an investment into research around the role of women across education, health, the economy and creating policy on a global stage that is continuing to focus on improvement for women.

Catherine said she’s excited to attend and see what comes out of the global conversation, and from that will then look at what opportunities could transpire for women in Australia. 

Connection and collaboration

Catherine credits winning a Telstra Business Women’s Award in 2002 as the catalyst that has catapulted her into a trajectory of networks and opened up so many opportunities, both professional and personal.

She says that for her, the whole women’s agenda is always about connection and collaboration and the Summit has reinforced that on an international stage, that through collaboration and connection we can create change.

“Programs like the Telstra Business Women’s Awards can have a huge impact in creating our own change for women. Collectively, women can be exceptionally influential through connected conversations and their networks.”

Nominations are open for the 2015 Telstra Business Women’s Awards here

Bond University is a supporting partner of Business Chicks.

Catherine O’Sullivan is the Pro Vice Chancellor, Partnerships and Pathways at Bond University, the Telstra Queensland Business Woman of the Year in 2002 and a chief judge for the Telstra Business Women’s Awards. She is also a global ambassador for Same Sky, a trade initiative that creates employment opportunities for women struggling to lift themselves out of extreme poverty, and a member of the Harvard Women’s Leadership Board.

Catherine is a Premium member of Business Chicks. Request her business card and connect with her here.


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Comments (3) | Add a comment

Ashley  Sanford
By Ashley Sanford OT | May 28, 2015, 05:17 PM

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. The impact of higher education for women on solving problems such as poverty and disease and the need to integrate higher education into the next round of Millennium Development Goals .I also to get assistance with dissertation help in my assignment on same topic. Reply

Jacqueline Zia
By Jacqueline Zia NSW | May 05, 2015, 09:55 AM

Such a great point Catherine - elderly care is still falling with women. Thank you for bringing up these points internationally! Reply

Rebecca Summers
By Rebecca Summers NSW | May 01, 2015, 09:31 AM

Thanks so much for sharing these important learnings Catherine, the Summit sounds incredible! Have a fab trip to Boston. xxx Reply

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