Statement Made By: Hon. Sujata Koirala, former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Nepal, at the International Leadership Conference Webinar (Women Leadership at a time of Global Crisis) on September 12, 2020.

Dear Mr. Chairman, Distinguished Guests and Speakers!
First of all, I would like to take a moment to express my gratitude for the warm invitation to speak at the International Leadership Conference Webinar. At a time when people’s lives and physical movements are significantly compromised, such as  initiatives like these  keep us connected and unified.
As the entire world sweats profusely to contain the spread of the coronavirus, the role of effective leadership has been brought into razor sharp focus around the globe, and I applaud Mother Moon and the Universal Peace Federation for bringing out this topic for discussion at such a relevant time.
We all know that women are on the receiving end of the hardest blow by the current pandemic. A big percentage of health workers are women which places them in the frontlines of the current crisis.  While 70 percent of the world’s healthcare staff is made up of women, only 25 percent of leaders in the world are women. Although this is the state of women amidst the pandemic, women have not neglected their roles in the society and are still showing resilience in all walks of life.
The world did not need a pandemic to realize that people are generally better off when their leaders are smart, honest and modest. But now that are we head-on with this global crisis, it is apparent that the challenges of the 21st century call for a new type of leadership, different from that based on command and control. These challenges include climate change, health, the environment, the depletion of the Earth’s resources, the development of new technologies, to name a few. As such, this new type of leadership primarily involves resilience, courage, flexibility, listening, empathizing, collaboration, caring and recognition of collective contribution. The participation of everyone’s intelligence becomes the key to success. And these are all characteristics of traditionally feminine management. During a crisis, displaying empathy can foster trust, loyalty, and motivate people to take their leaders more seriously. It is no secret that combining empathy with quick action is precisely what successful leaders of various nations have done in response to the current pandemic. And as a woman myself I am profoundly proud to say that it is no coincidence that most of the countries that have managed the COVID-19 crisis effectively are led by female leaders.
COVID-19 showed us that even the leadership team of developed countries can fail to deliver. In an impending crisis, we need a diverse set of leaders for a better direction. Therefore, by bringing to the fore the untapped reservoir of women leadership in all spheres of life, we will be more resilient and better-positioned to tackle future crises. Women are a symbol of motherly love, kindness, compassion and integrity, and these are the virtues that are highly required in a leader in tackling a crisis of this proportion. To that end, through this esteemed forum I urge world leaders and decision-makers to ensure gender is integrated in national and sub-national COVID‑19 response plans, not only to achieve better outcomes for women and girls but also to achieve better outcomes for the whole of humanity.
Once again, I thank Mother Moon and the Universal Peace Federation for having me on this global stage and allowing me to express my solidarity in their quest for a better world.
Thank you.
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