Forbes Summit: An unapologetically female gathering

The first-ever Forbes Under 30 Global Women’s Summit taking place in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem is, above all, unapologetically female.

April 1, 2019 18:39
3 minute read.
ForbesWomen editor Maggie McGrath addresses the Forbes Under 30 Global Women’s Summit, April 1, 2019

ForbesWomen editor Maggie McGrath addresses the Forbes Under 30 Global Women’s Summit, April 1, 2019. (photo credit: EREZ UZIR)


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For a fourth consecutive year, Israel is playing host to one of Forbes’ signature “30 under 30” summits, bringing entrepreneurs and financial industry leaders together in the Jewish state.

This year, however, Forbes has convened a summit with a major difference. The first-ever Forbes Under 30 Global Women’s Summit taking place in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem is, above all, unapologetically female.

“It’s easy to dismiss things as being feminine, and I say that as a woman who doesn’t like the color pink,” ForbesWomen editor Maggie McGrath told The Jerusalem Post.

“I think it’s important to recognize that femininity can take all sorts of forms. Women can work in all industries, across all countries and across all sub-sectors. I like to treat all the women here as subject matter experts - in fintech, cybersecurity and retail. They happen to be women.”

On Monday, the second day of the week-long conference, hundreds of the brightest business minds - both men and women - gathered at Jaffa’s Peres Center for Peace and Innovation for an intense day of challenging conversations on topics ranging from the future of women-led cybersecurity firms to harnessing the power of technology to empower immigrants.

“The fact that it is all women means we can lean into conversations about how has it been difficult to raise money as a woman, how has it been difficult for women to market a product and how to get male investors on board if you are making a product only for women,” said McGrath. “It’s about finding those creative solutions to get the money you need to be able to grow to scale.”

Citing the recent #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, and the December 2018 Israeli  women's strike against domestic violence, McGrath said “women are waking up to the need to occupy spaces across all of business and society.”

“We’ve seen it in the US with women running for Congress and winning those seats. They never would have done it before, but they realized it’s important to use their voice. We see the entrepreneurs here, coming from all over the world, seeing they have the solution to a problem. They think they can do it and they likely can.”

In addition to honest conversations and hours of networking, the summit is also offering the international line-up of presenters and attendees an Israeli food festival on the Tel Aviv beach, an exclusive after-party, and a night tour of Jerusalem’s Mahaneh Yehuda market.

“I think what’s important about these spaces is including men in the conversation but also letting women breathe a sigh of relief, not jostling to get their voices heard, but basking in the beauty of the moment of something purely female and supporting one another,” said Paula Kweskin, human rights lawyer and founder of The 49%, an organization dedicated to advancing global women’s rights through film and media.

Born in Charlotte, North Carolina, Kweskin made Israel her home eight years ago. Her documentary film Honor Diaries, featuring women’s rights advocates in Muslim societies, has enjoyed success on a range of platforms, including Amazon Prime Video and Netflix.

“We all know that the media is the way that people’s minds change and is a mirror of our society. We want to move the needle on the conversation and change the status quo of women globally, and we believe that we need to harness the power of media to do that.

“It’s also really special when the world comes to Israel and Israel exports its goods to the world. I can’t think of many countries the size of New Jersey where there is all this excitement. There isn’t gender parity here either, but it’s a young country and things are changing.”

Later this week, summit participants will turn their attention to Jerusalem, where they will enjoy a private concert focusing on women and co-existence at the Tower of David, and a day of finding solutions to global challenges at both the Jerusalem Venture Partners campus and other sites across the city.

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