This page will be updated as speakers and panelists are confirmed. GEM24's Opening Reflections,  Keynote Address, and panel discussions will be live-streamed. 

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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 

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, and Ashley Judd, social justice humanitarian, who will discuss their journeys fighting for women and girls in the global film industry and through their advocacy work around the world.

H.E. Dr. Fatima Maada Bio headshot

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

Ashley Judd headshot

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

Smriti Kiran headshot

Founder of Polka Dots Lightbox; Independent Creator; Impact Strategist in Indian Film Industry

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


8:15am - Breakfast and Registration

9:00am - Opening Reflections from Harvard Leadership 

Iris Bohnet headshot

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

Asim I. Khwaja headshot

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

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.  

Jennifer Moore headshot

Features Editor at GBH News

Gary Barker headshot

President and CEO of Equimundo

Latanya Mapp headshot

President and CEO of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors

Claudia Lopez Hernandez headshot

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

Professor of Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School 

11:00am - Fireside Chat: "The Politics of Centering Women and Girls in Policy and Practice"

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.

Amna Nawaz headshot

Co-Anchor, PBS NewsHour


patrick achi

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

Former Prime Minister, Jordan

12:00pm - Lunch with Grandmother

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.

1:00pm - The Next Frontiers for Women and Girls

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.  

Raj Kumar headshot

Founding President and Editor-in-Chief of Devex

Bineta Diop headshot

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

Dorothy Estrada-Tanck headshot

Chair of UN Working Group on Discrimination against Women and Girls 

Janet Pau

Executive Director, Asia Business Council

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

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.

Asim Khwaja headshot

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

Emiliana Vegas headshot

Professor of Practice, Harvard Graduate School of Education

Aisha Yousafzai headshot

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

Michela Carlana headshot

Assistant Professor of Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School

Incubation Room 2: Shifting the Balance of Power on Maternal and Reproductive Health

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.

Jessica Cohen

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

Incubation Room 3: Paths to (Better) Paid Employment

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.

Kathleen McGinn headshot

Cahners-Rabb Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School

Mara Bolis headshot

CID Research Fellow

Incubation Room 4: Women and Leadership: Leveling the Playing Field to Power

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. 

Iris Bohnet headshot

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

Natalia Rigol headshot

Assistant Professor, Harvard Business School

Eliana La Ferrara headshot

Professor of Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School

Incubation Room 5: Advancing Women, Peace, and Security 

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.

Daniel Agbiboa headshot

Assistant Professor of African and African American Studies, Harvard College

Dara Kay Cohen headshot

Professor of Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School

5:00pm - Closing Reflection and Reception   

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.


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

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