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monthlies OnOffice July9

05 Dec 2019

Oslo Innovation Week x OnOffice: Why BAME women are at the centre of building a better world

Words by  Photo by Oliver Cole, Unsplash

As part of our one-month Oslo Innovation Week series, we look back on one of the world's most interactive innovation conference. This week, we chat to Bintu Zahara Sakor, Research Assistant at PRIO, and a strong advocate of equality in the workplace 

Taking place across several venues in Oslo from September 23 -27, Oslo Innovation Week presents an exciting programme each year of pitching contests, 'hackathons', workshops, seminars and company crawls, which aim to offer ground-breaking solutions for The Global Goals to build a better future for all.

Highlighting the movers and shakers of the industry, the conference explores possible solutions to these global challenges through entrepreneurship, technology and innovation within five key topics, including Future of Work, Cities, Explore Oslo, Entrepreneurship & Startup and Quality of Life. With 50 events across the city, the event attracted 11 000 innovation leaders, startups, corporates, the public sector and other creatives this year, who gathered in the heart of Oslo, the European Green Capital of 2019, in a bid to create a fairer world.

Oslo Innovation WeekOslo Innovation Week attracted 11 000 innovation leaders, startups, corporates, the public sector and other creatives

To continue the conversations had during OIW, and with the aim to address the 17 goals to better the world by 2030, we have invited four speakers and industry insiders to share their thoughts on each of the key topics discussed over the next 30 days.

In the second part of the series, Bintu Zahara Sakor discusses how leading BAME women are making a difference in Scandinavia and beyond. As a Research Assistant at PRIO within the CVP Department, she is currently working with Halvard Buhaug and Elisabeth Rosvold to geolocate natural disasters and contribute to other CLIMSEC-related events. 

Oslo Opera HouseOslo, the European Green Capital of 2019

What role do Nordic female entrepreneurs of African, Asian and other ethnic minority (BAME) backgrounds play in contributing to peace and sustainable development in Scandinavia and beyond?

This was a question we explored during the annual Oslo Innovation Week conference, from 23-27 September, which aims to find solutions to the enviornmental and social issues facing us all today. To delve into the topic, studies have demonstrated that the empowerment of women through entrepreneurship can be a strategic tool in achieving a gender equal society, sustainable economic development and peace; findings which have often guided most Nordic countries’ foreign policies.

Despite this, female entrepreneurs, certainly those of African, Asian and other ethnic minority (BAME) backgrounds continue to face additional challenges, and their contributions remain largely unrecognised and unnoticed both within Scandinavia and across the world. This is a systematic issue, which needs to be taken seriously and addressed effectively in order to promote long-term innovation, inclusion, peace and sustainable development.

Meeting, office, Unsplash

As a participant of this year’s Oslo Innovation Week and the organiser of the first ever event addressing the challenges faced by female Nordic BAME entrepreneurs, as well as the important role these women play in addressing the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 5 (gender equality) and 7 (universal energy access) all while contributing to global peace, innovation and sustainable development, the event demonstrated the need for Nordic governments to include this topic in their prioritised gender-relevant policy areas.

Key takeaways demonstrated why the empowerment of female entrepreneurs of minority communities the world over has the power to transform any society, including Scandinavian, African and others for the better. Attracting dynamic BAME female entrepreneurs who possess invaluable but yet underappreciated unique experiences and can help make a difference, is essential for future innovative workplaces. For the world's cutting-edge companies to be at the forefront, diverse workplace cultures are crucial, not only for hiring but also retaining the best staff.

Importantly, entrepreneurship with a focus on community cohesion, inclusion and environmental approaches has the power to inspire, encourage the visibility of women that are often undervalued and excluded by most societies, including Nordic countries, and give a voice to all. While this first event has initiated engaging dialogues concerning this specific issue, there is still plenty of work to be done – and we will wait to see how Nordic governments respond.

Read the first part of our series here.

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