This page will be updated as speakers and panelists are confirmed. GEM24's opening reflections,  keynote address, and panel discussions on May 2, 2024 will be live-streamed. Prepare for the conference by tuning in to our Road to GEM events, podcasts, and articles featuring conversations with leaders on the front lines of gender-related work in developing countries.

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GEM24: Breaking Barriers for Women and Girls will explore what works to advance gender equity, with a particular lens on both the challenges and opportunities emerging from developing countries and the role society needs to play.


May 1, 2024

All times are shown in Eastern Daylight Time.

5:00pm - Optional Guided Tour of "Hum Sab Ek (We Are One)" exhibit (Tsai Auditorium, 1730 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA)

Enjoy a guided tour by Dr. Satchit Balsari, SEWA Secretary General Jyoti Macwan, and a team of Harvard graduate students of a multi-media art exhibition inspired by the actions of women working in the informal sector with the Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) in India during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

The exhibition is open for self-guided tours any time at the CGIS South Concourse, 1730 Cambridge Street and co-sponsored by the Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute and Office of the Provost at Harvard.

GEM24 Opening Dinner and Welcome Reception at Harvard Art Museums

6:30pm - "Looking for Hidden Gems" welcome reception  

Official kickoff for GEM24 begins with cocktails and a treasure hunt at the stunning Harvard Art Museums where we will look for clues among the paintings and exhibits of the first-floor galleries of how women and girls are reflected in art.

Registration and check-in for GEM24 at entrance. 

7:30pm - "Women and Girls in the Arts"

Dinner & Discussion: "Shattering Gender Norms in Global Film"

Fireside Chat with actors and activists H.E. Dr. Fatima Maada Bio, first lady of Sierra Leone, Ashley Judd, social justice humanitarian, and creator and producer Smriti Kiran who will discuss their journeys fighting for women and girls in the global film industry and through their advocacy work around the world.

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H.E. Dr. Fatima Maada Bio

First Lady of the Republic of Sierra Leone; Activist and Founder of 'Hands Off Our Girls' Campaign; Actor; Writer; UN Advisory Board Member on Zero Waste

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Ashley Judd, MC/MPA '10

Actor; Author; Social Justice Humanitarian; 2016 Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Population Fund

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Smriti Kiran

Founder of Polka Dots Lightbox; Creator of Maitri: The Female First Collective; Independent Impact Strategist, Producer and Content Consultant in Indian Film Industry


Leading practitioners, academics, philanthropists, media, government officials, and more are joining us today for GEM24: Breaking Barriers for Women and Girls. See a real-time list of who is in attendance at this year's Global Empowerment Meeting.

May 2, 2024: Global Empowerment Meeting at Harvard Kennedy School


8:15am - Breakfast and Registration (Nye ABC)

9:00am - Opening Reflections from Harvard Leadership (NYE ABC)

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Iris Bohnet

Co-Director, Women and Public Policy Program and Albert Pratt Professor of Business and Government, Harvard Kennedy School 

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Asim I. Khwaja

Director, Center for International Development and Sumitomo-FASID Professor of International Finance and Development, Harvard Kennedy School 

9:15am - Innovative Interventions in Advancing Gender Equity (NYE ABC)

This panel discussion will explore groundbreaking research, practices, and policies that have been shown to materially impact gender equality, justice, and economic opportunity for women and girls in diverse contexts. It will focus on successful interventions with evidence-based results and what they teach the development community about what success and impact looks like.  

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Jennifer Moore, Moderator

Features Editor at GBH News

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Gary Barker

President and CEO of Equimundo

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Latanya Mapp

President and CEO of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors

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Claudia Lopez Hernandez

Former Mayor of Bogota, Colombia and current Harvard Advanced Leadership Initiative Fellow 

Eliana La Ferrara

Professor of Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School 

11:15am - Fireside Chat: "The Politics of Centering Women and Girls in Policy and Practice" (NYE ABC)

Prioritizing gender equity in policy and practice is key to reshaping societies and creating inclusive economies but the political will to do so can be challenging. This interview with former prime ministers from West Africa and the Middle East will reflect on their time in office and consider how they advocated for women and girls, barriers and obstacles they faced in advancing gender equity, and what, if anything, they would do differently if they had a chance to lead again.

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Amna Nawaz, Moderator

Co-Anchor, PBS NewsHour


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H.E. Mr. Patrick Achi

Former Prime Minister, Head of Government, Republic of Côte d’Ivoire

H.E. Dr. Omar Al Razzaz

Former Prime Minister, Jordan

12:00pm - Lunch with Grandmother (NYE ABC)

Grandmothers around the world play a critical role in caring for their extended families and communities so that future generations can grow up with more opportunities to fulfill their potential. We will hear from one grandmother whose work through local Ugandan NGO Nyaka in fostering girls so they can safely go to school reveals the many barriers women and girls still face and the opportunities to build a new model for economic empowerment, education, and home-based care.

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Jolly Babirukamu

Grandmother Program Representative, Nyaka

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Jackson Kaguri

CEO and Founder, Nyaka 

1:00pm - The Next Frontiers for Women and Girls (NYE ABC)

This panel will highlight perspectives from practitioners and researchers working at the grassroots level and the cutting edge of equality for women and girls in international development. It will focus on uncovering areas where the need to focus on gender justice and equality has been historically underrecognized and discuss how to move forward in the knowledge of how much more there is to be done.  

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Raj Kumar, Moderator

Founding President and Editor-in-Chief of Devex

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Madam Bineta Diop

Special Envoy of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission on Women, Peace and Security 

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Dorothy Estrada-Tanck

Chair of UN Working Group on Discrimination against Women and Girls 

Janet Pau

Janet Pau

Executive Director, Asia Business Council

Mia Perdomo

Mia Perdomo

CEO of Aequales 

2:45pm - GEM Incubation Rooms

The Incubation Rooms duringGEM24 will generate and explore early-stage collaborations between researchers and practitioners working on gender in developing economies. 

Following the keynote address and panel sessions, GEM24 will divide participants into smaller groups that will participate in GEM Incubation Rooms focused on one of several pressing topics. These “research-meets-practice" working sessions will explore early-stage ideas, encouraging participants to consider how cutting-edge research can address pressing problems and reimagine the boundaries of knowledge and action. Participants will be encouraged to develop collaborations they would subsequently submit to the GEM Incubation Fund for seed funding. 

Incubation Room 1: Enabling Women's Skilling Journeys (Wexner 436)

Inequitable access to education, skill building, and labor market opportunities plays a large role in contributing to gender gaps. These access barriers are driven by a range of factors including social norms and biases, household and environmental factors, as well as mobility constraints. This Incubation Room will explore strategies to bridge educational, skilling and labor market gender gaps and explore how technology and related innovations can be harnessed to promote gender equality, from closing the digital divide to leveraging innovative solutions that benefit all.

GEM Student Lead: Ezza Naveed, Harvard Graduate School of Education 

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Asim I. Khwaja

Director, Center for International Development and Sumitomo-FASID Professor of International Finance and Development, Harvard Kennedy School 

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Emiliana Vegas

Professor of Practice, Harvard Graduate School of Education

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Aisha Yousafzai

Professor of Child Development and Health, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health 

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Michela Carlana

Assistant Professor of Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School

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Costanza Turrini

Project Manager, Girls Code it Better 

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Elizabeth Lule

Executive Director, Early Childhood Development Action Network (ECDAN)

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Sabina Morley

Senior Education Advisor and co-lead of the Girls’ Education Programmes Team, UK Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office

Incubation Room 2: Shifting the Balance of Power on Maternal and Reproductive Health (Wexner 434)

A critical component of high-quality maternal and reproductive health care is that patients are heard, their questions and concerns are addressed, and that they are treated with respect.  This incubation room will explore how these dimensions of care quality contribute to maternal health outcomes and equity and will explore strategies to empower women and girls in maternal and reproductive health care encounters.

GEM Student Lead: Nicholas Rahim, Harvard School of Public Health

Jessica Cohen

Jessica Cohen

Beal Associate Professor, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health 

Dr. Marie Roseline Darnycka Belizaire

Dr. Marie Roseline Darnycka Belizaire

Harvard LEAD Fellow for Promoting Women in Global Health | Senior Emergency Manager at the World Health Organization, Headquarters, Geneva, Switzerland

Dr. Brenda Kateera

Dr. Brenda Kateera

Harvard LEAD Fellow for Promoting Women in Global Health, Country Director for Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) in Rwanda 

Dr. Katherine Ann V. Reyes

Dr. Katherine Ann V. Reyes

Harvard LEAD Fellow for Promoting Women in Global Health, Program Lead to establish the Institute of Health Promotion at the National Institutes of Health University of the Philippines Manila 

Incubation Room 3: Paths to (Better) Paid Employment (T-102 Cason)

Women work. Every day, across the world, women work more hours than men while earning less. This inequality rests on two related factors: women’s unpaid domestic and care work, and women’s relatively low earnings from paid employment. Occupational segregation, insecure and part time work, lack of affordable childcare, and mismatch between skills and lucrative employment drive gender inequalities in earnings. This Incubation Room will consider ways to address these issues to reshape women’s employment options and increase women’s access to higher earnings. Simultaneously, we will consider ways to increase the benefits organizations and societies reap from matching women’s talents with organizational and societal needs.

GEM Student Lead: Priyanka Varma, Harvard Kennedy School

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Kathleen McGinn

Cahners-Rabb Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School

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Mara Bolis

CID Research Fellow

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Laura Rawlings

Lead Economist for the World Bank’s Gender Group 

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Jyoti Macwan

General Secretary, Self Employed Women's Association (SEWA), World Economic Forum

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Bobbi Mahlab

2024 ALI fellow, Founder and Chair of Mahlab and Co-Founder of Mentor Walks

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Alexandra C. Feldberg

Assistant Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School

Incubation Room 4: Women and Leadership: Leveling the Playing Field to Power (Rubenstein 414)

Women’s agency and representation in positions of power is increasing across sectors and countries but progress is slow, and in some instances, has stalled. Gendered norms and stereotypes associating leadership with men create hurdles for women to enter and advance in business, government, and society. In organizations in low- and high-income countries, “glass ceilings” where women are less able to break through to the top echelons of power as well as “broken rungs” where women do not advance to entry-level managerial roles are well documented. To level the playing field, we need to debias organizational practices and procedures, address social norms that hold women back, and create more transparency and accountability. Besides traditional private and public sector entities, entrepreneurship holds the promise of lifting women and their families out of poverty as access to and control over financial resources often define a woman’s agency. This Incubation Room will explore strategies to address gender inequities in leadership, with a particular focus on creating pathways to power within organizations and through entrepreneurship at all levels, showing that change is not only possible but that we can create environments where all people can thrive. 

GEM Student Lead: Juan Carlos Orrego Zamudio, Harvard Kennedy School

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Iris Bohnet

Co-Director, Women and Public Policy Program and Albert Pratt Professor of Business and Government, Harvard Kennedy School 

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Natalia Rigol

Assistant Professor, Harvard Business School

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Eliana La Ferrara

Professor of Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School

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Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi

Founder, African Women’s Development Fund

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Dr. Nitya Mohan Khemka

Director, Khemka Foundation

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Mia Perdomo

Co-Founder and CEO, Aequales

Incubation Room 5: Advancing Women, Peace, and Security (Perkins R-429)

Although the role of women in security, from violent conflicts to peace-building and climate change, have attracted growing attention in recent decades, their distinct experiences and decisive contributions are still inadequately understood. This Incubation Room will explore the various ways that women affect, and are affected by, conditions of insecurity. Our aim is to go beyond popular narratives of women as victims in order to interrogate their obvious but often overlooked role as agents and changemakers.

GEM Student Lead: Bintu Zahara Sakor (visiting PhD student) 

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Daniel Agbiboa

Assistant Professor of African and African American Studies, Harvard College

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Dara Kay Cohen

Professor of Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School

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ElsaMarie D'Silva

Founder of Red Dot Foundation

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Dr. Aisha Muhammed-Oyebode

Chief Executive Officer, Murtala Muhammed Foundation 

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Jamille Bigio

Senior Coordinator for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment at USAID 

5:00pm - Closing Reflection and Reception (Wexner Commons)

Where do we go from here to break down barriers for women and girls, particularly in developing countries? How we do incubate new research and pathways across sectors and countries to advance gender equity so that we do not continue leaving more than half of the world behind? GEM24 will close out with shared reflections from each Incubation Room while guests enjoy appetizers and drinks at the closing reception.

Guests are encouraged to continue conversations with new colleagues and friends over self-organized dinners in Harvard Square or greater Boston.

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Fatema Z. Sumar

Executive Director, Center for International Development

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Vikas Pershad

Senior Fund Manager, M&G Investments


GEM24 is co-hosted by the Harvard Kennedy School's Women and Public Policy Program.

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