10 women awarded for excellence at the CONAF Gala
„Women in Economy – Day by day Heroes”
On March 6th, 2023, the fifth edition of the Gala for “Women in Economy – Day by day Heroes”, the largest event dedicated to celebrating female excellence, organized by the National Confederation for Female Entrepreneurship – CONAF along with the National Association of Entrepreneurs – ANAA, took place at the Romanian Athenaeum, in Bucharest. Along the 800 guests, officials, diplomats, managers, entrepreneurs, Mr. Marcel Ciolacu, President of the Chamber of Deputies, Mr. Nicolae Ionel Ciucă, the Prime Minister of Romania, Ms. Helena Dalli, the European Commissioner for Equality, Mr. Cristian Silviu Bușoi, MEP and President of the Committee for Industry, Research and Energy in the European Parliament, participated. A number of officials were also present, including Her Excellency Ms. Therese Hydén, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Sweden in Romania, His Excellency Mr. José Antonio Hernández Perez-Solorzano, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Spain in Romania, Her Excellency Ms. Ramona Chiriac, Head of the European Commission Representation in Romania, Mr. Victor Negrescu, MEP and Vice-President of the Committee for Culture and Education of the European Parliament, Mr. Adrian Câciu, Minister of Finance, Mr. Marius Budai, Minister of Labor and Social Solidarity, presidents of Senate and Chamber committees, as well as Ms. Nora Mehsen, Programme Manager on transnational cooperation, equality, justice and decent work at EEA and Norway Grants.
Honoring the “Day by day Heroes”, the Gala awarded the resilience, courage and determination of women who excelled in key fields for Romania’s development – health, education, entrepreneurship, culture, media, sports, etc., recognizing their professionalism in the face of all challenges of the present, thus transforming them into the real heroines of our days.
Cristina Chiriac, the President of ANAA: „We celebrate the courage of incredible women who are making a difference in their communities, whether we’re talking about culture, education, health, defense or the economy. We aimed to bring to the fore, on the stage of the Romanian Athenaeum, those female models who, through talent, perseverance, courage and determination managed to perform, inspire and shape destinies. Regardless of the challenges and risks, the winners of the CONAF Gala are true examples to follow. Romania has only one chance, that of changing the paradigm with which it looks at social classes. We must create bridges for a social dialogue with concrete results, mobilize all our forces to overcome those negative rankings, which make Europe wonder what kind of country we are. The pandemic made us come out of our individual shells, forced us to mobilize and show unity, made us responsible. The war brought humanity to the surface, but also our social vulnerabilities. I propose that we write history, not be spectators. I propose that we love our country as we love our parents!”
Present at the event, Mr. Marcel Ciolacu, President of the Chamber of Deputies, emphasized the importance of gender equality and equal opportunities, as essential pillars of economic policies profitable for society, and particularly appreciated the efforts of women entrepreneurs in Romania. At the same time, given the imperative of support for gender equality, he mentioned a draft law launched last year, whereby 30% of the candidates on the lists in the local elections, as well as 30% of the members of the boards of directors of companies state, to be occupied by women.
„I know that it is not easy to be a woman in Romania, and in addition to the role of mother and wife to play the role of the real accountant of the family, a heavy responsibility, especially in a period dominated by major social crises, which pressed more and more strong on women’s shoulders. This responsibility is multiplied for female entrepreneurs, who, like the title of this evening’s Gala, are the heroines of our days”, affirmed the President of the Chamber of Deputies.
In his address, the Prime Minister of Romania, Mr. Nicolae Ionel Ciucă highlighted the need to capitalize on female human capital at all levels and in all fields of activity. He recalled the social crises that disproportionately affect women and emphasized that women’s rights must be a priority objective, both on the national and European political agenda. At the same time, the prime minister emphasized the fact that the number of women entrepreneurs in Romania increased by over 100,000 compared to 2013 and assured that support for them will increase, especially through the implementation of the National Plan of Recovery and Resilience.
„For the period 2021-2027, Romania aimed to capitalize on all opportunities by creating the national strategic framework in the field of equal opportunities and combating domestic violence. Through the Cohesion Policy and the National Plan of Recovery and Resilience, we dedicate over 9 billion EURO to the business environment for investment in activities that favor economic growth and the creation of sustainable jobs, of which over 100 million EURO is allocated to support women in the fields of entrepreneurship, education or social inclusion. These interventions will lead to the increase of women’s participation in the labor market and the exploitation of their potential in priority economic fields”, claimed the Prime Minister of Romania.
Present at the „Women in Economy” Gala, for the first time at the invitation of a non-governmental organization, Ms. Helena Dalli, the European Union Commissioner for Equality, spoke about the difficulties that women encounter when entering the labor market or debuting in the entrepreneurial environment, emphasizing the systemic challenges that put barriers in the way of reaching their development potential. She also drew attention to the phenomenon of school dropout, as one of the determining factors of social inequity, as well as to the gender gap in higher or vocational education, the related professions being, as a consequence, marked by the underrepresentation of women.
„If I look at the figures from Romania, there is room for great improvement. Currently, only 23.3% of women have completed higher education, which is the lowest level in the European Union, and only 56.9% of women are employed, which is the third lowest position in the European Union. We need to ensure that women can enter the workforce and remain active and economically independent throughout their lives, contribute to economic sectors that are central to shaping our future, and are valued for their work, regardless of social background or economic, status or education level. How can we organize our lives and societies to make professional choices in a balanced way? We start by ensuring that girls and young women enter all areas of education, particularly in those sectors that are increasingly important in the economy of the future.”
Mr. Cristian Silviu Bușoi, MEP in the Group of the European People’s Party and President of the Committee for Industry, Research and Energy of the European Parliament appreciated that „Day by Day Heroes” celebrates the involvement of women in key fields and awards prizes for excellence: „I congratulate you for your focus on access to continuous education and your dedication to to digital development as a pillar of sustainability. In the ITRE Committee (Committee for Industry, Research and Energy of the European Parliament) that I lead, we dedicated hours of discussions and seminars on the role of women as agents of change in the energy transition, as professionals, decision makers and energy consumers. I can tell you, looking at gender equality in the energy system in recent years in the European Union, that unfortunately women hold only 1 in 5 leadership positions in the energy sector. Women must play a key role in achieving the strategic objectives of the European Union – the Digital Decade and the Green Deal. I am convinced that attracting European funds and transforming Romania for the better cannot be possible without the involvement of women entrepreneurs.”
During the event, ten women who obtained special results and performed at the national level, were recognized for their excellence. Thus, Ligia ARDELEAN, Operations Head of Data Centers and Hosting Practice at Atos, Anca SÎNĂ SEREA, Ambassador „Class M. Class of Underage Mothers”, journalist, Carmen ION, teacher, founder of the Boovie festival, Raluca MICHAILOV, General Manager BP Publishing, Elisabeta LIPĂ, President of the Romanian Rowing Federation and vice-president of the Romanian Olympic and Sports Committee, Adelina TONCEAN, Founder of the Blondie Association, Marinela ARDELEAN, Global wine expert and promoter of Romanian brands abroad, author, Evelina NECULA, Edtech entrepreneur, Co-Founder & CMO Kinderpedia, Nadia COMĂNECI, Former gymnast, winner of five Olympic gold medals. The Grand Prize of the Gala was awarded to Otilia SAVA, President of the „Alături de Eroi” Association, dedicated to veteran war heroes.
The awards were presented by E.S. Ms. Therese HYDÉN, the ambassador of the Kingdom of Sweden in Romania, H.E. Mr. José Antonio Hernández PEREZ-SOLORZANO, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Spain in Romania, Mr. Achilleas KANARIS, CEO of Vodafone Romania, Mr. Bogdan PUTINICĂ, General Manager of Microsoft Romania, Mr. Ionuț CIUBOTARU, Vice President for Company Development at OMV Petrom Gas & Power, Ms. Feza TAN, Deputy CEO of UniCredit Bank Romania, Mr. Volker RAFFEL, CEO of E.ON Romania, Ms. Nora MEHSEN, Programme Manager on transnational cooperation, equality, justice and decent work at EEA and Norway Grants, Ms. Elisabeta MORARU, Country Director of Google Romania. The Grand Prize of the Gala was presented by Mr. Lucian ROMAȘCANU, Minister of Culture. The event enjoyed the support of the General Staff of the Land Forces, the Choir of the Land Forces Academy „Nicolae Bălcescu” from Sibiu, activating under its command, performed the National Anthem of Romania and the European Union Anthem at the opening of the event.
Ms. Nora Mehsen, Programme Manager on transnational cooperation, equality, justice and decent work at EEA and Norway Grants, addressed the audience about the challenges women are facing in Romania and throughout Europe, as well as about the importance of the Wingate Project. ,,Empowerment of women is not only at the core of the EEA and Norway grants, it is also a topic close to my own heart and represents a fundamental key to the development of our society. On behalf of the donors, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, we at EEA and Norway grants work for a more equal Europe, both socially and economically, in close partnership with bilateral and transnational actors. We are proud supporters of the Wingate Project that has gathered here today through CONAF. Among with our partner countries, the Wingate Project is truly an initiative that works to find common solutions for shared challenges, because despite much progress in Europe, gaps in social and economic development persist.”
In the context of various social challenges affecting women disproportionately, Ms. Nora Mehsen highlighted the need for building societies in more sustainable and just ways, as well as the importance of the Wingate Project as “an excellent example in this regard, using innovative approaches to strengthen equality and competitiveness at the same time. Investing in women pays off, not just metaphorically, but in hard cash. Women are the real oil. Because not unlocking the potential of women is a losing game, not just individually, but for societies at large.”
Initiators: The National Confederation for Female Entrepreneurship – CONAF, The National Association of Entrepreneurs – ANAA
Partner: Wingate Project- The network of successful businesswomen from Central and Eastern Europe.