The Inauguration Ceremony of EWORA was held on June 20, 2016 at University Foundation/ Fondation Universitaire in Brussels. The primary goal of the meeting was to appraise the challenges and opportunities of women empowerment in academic participation and leadership. The event attracted a distinguished audience of present and former women academic leaders, representatives of major networks of higher education, gender experts and diplomats from a number of countries.
European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, Mr. Carlos Moedas, honored the meeting with a keynote speech titled “Equality isn’t just a women’s issue, it’s a human one”. Congratulating the establishment of EWORA he said, “I hope you will use the power of your network to make your voices heard in research policy making here and at home”. He also emphasized the significance of women’s networks by concluding that “the bigger and more diverse the ecosystem of women’s networks we have in every sector, the closer we will get to true equality, because equality isn’t a women’s issue it’s a human one.”
UN Women Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia, Ms. Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir, also gave a keynote speech stressing the need for investment in women’s education and participation in leadership positions. Věra Jourová, European Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality sent a video message to the meeting. The second part of the Inaugural Ceremony consisted of three panel sessions.
The first of the panels was chaired by the Honorary Rector of Université Libre de Bruxelles, Professor Pierre de Maret, and the panelists were Finland’s Ambassador to Belgium, Timo Ranta and Ambassador, Permanent Delegation of Turkey to the EU, Selim Yenel. The ambassadors addressed the gender equality issues in their countries.
The second panel was chaired by the President of EUA, Professor Rolf Tarrach, and the panelists were five of the Board Members of EWORA : Gulsun Saglamer, Helena Nazaré, Ursula Nelles, Christina Ullenius and Carmen Fenoll. The Board Members shared their personal experiences as women leaders in academia and discussed their expectations for the future of EWORA.
The third panel, with the Head of Sector “Gender”, EC DG for R&I, Viviane Willis-Mazzichi as the chair, and three members of the Scientific Advisory Board of EWORA, Liisa Husu, Ines Sanches de Madariaga and Mine G. Tan. As the closing remarks of the inaugration Ceremony the panel drew attention to the implications of EWORA for the empowerment of women as well as the change in the culture and structure of academic institutions.