Debate: Economics or Politics: Which Drives Women’s Empowerment?

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A debate hosted by the National Democratic Institute and Women, Business, and the Law (World Bank)

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Room I 2-250, World Bank Group I Building, 1850 I St NW


 RSVP Here 


Irene Khan (Economic Empowerment) is Director-General of the International Development Law Organization (IDLO). The first woman to hold this office, she was elected by Member Parties in November 2011 and took up her position in January 2012 for a term of four years. She is an internationally known expert and activist on human rights and gender issues. From 2001-2009, she served as Secretary General of Amnesty International, where she was the first woman, Asian, and Muslim to head the world’s largest human rights organization. Under her leadership Amnesty launched its first global campaign on women and girls (Stop Violence Against Women). Prior to joining Amnesty International, she worked with the UN High Commissioner High Commissioner for Refugees for 21 years including in senior leadership positions at headquarters and various field operations around the world. She is Chancellor of Salford University and a board member of the Charity Commission of England and Wales. She studied law at the University of Manchester, UK and Harvard Law School USA. She is the author of The Unheard Truth: Poverty and Human Rights, which has been translated into six languages.

Professor Linda Scott (Economic Empowerment) is DP World Chair for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford. She is best known for devising the concept of the Double X Economy — which denotes the global economy of women in the developed and developing world and the roles of women not only as consumers but as investors, donors, and workers. She writes a blog called “The Double X Economy” and blogs for Forbes and Bloomberg Businessweek on gender issues. She is founder of Power Shift, the Oxford Forum for Women in the World Economy and serves on the Access to Markets subcommittee of the International Business Women’s Leadership Council of the US State Department. She is currently leading a global initiative to add women’s financial inclusion to the Sustainable Development Goals.

Shari Bryan (Political Empowerment) is Vice President of the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI). She served previously as Senior Associate and Regional Director of the Institute’s democratic development programs in Southern and East Africa from 2001-2008 and has overseen the expansion of NDI programs in the region with the establishment of seven permanent offices, which support political, civic, and governance development throughout the continent. She has traveled to and worked in more than 22 countries in Africa, organized election observation missions around the region, and provided training in the skills necessary for political candidates, government officials, and voters to participate in democratic life. She is a guest and commentator for major media and presented papers before a variety of international organizations. Her publications include Money in Politics A Study of Party Financing Practices in 22 Countries and Transparency and Accountability in Africa’s Extractive Industries: The Role of the Legislature.


Sandra Pepera (Political Empowerment) is a career diplomat and international development professional. Before joining NDI as Director for Gender, Women, and Democracy, she spent 13 years as a senior officer at the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), where she led programs in the Caribbean, Rwanda, Burundi, and Sudan. Prior to joining DFID, she spent time in British domestic politics, lectured in political science and international relations at the University of Ghana, and served as a political analyst in the Political Affairs Division at the Commonwealth Secretariat. Her skills include strategy development, political and risk analysis, diplomacy, general management, and corporate governance. Much of her career has been spent working in or on transitional economies, focusing on building resilient and inclusive institutions.She is a member of the Cambridge Sustainability Leaders Network, the Royal Commonwealth Society, the Global Board Ready Women initiative, and the International Advisory Board of the Commonwealth Journal for International Affairs.

Joanne Levine (Moderator) is an Emmy Award-winning international journalist and foreign policy expert. She recently became Executive Director of Al Jazeera America.

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