Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto

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March 8 was International Women’s Day, a day dedicated to celebrating the achievements of all women as well as the progression towards gender equality. The Rotman School of Management is committed to providing women opportunities for advancement in their respective fields, for example we offer financial support throughour Women in Finance awards. We’ve seen an increasing number of female student enrol in our masters programs and are fortunate to also have dedicated faculty, staff and students who are taking the initiative to advocate for gender equality.

61st UN Commission on the Status of Women

Sabrina Wu, MFin 2017, is just one of our many students who are passionate about this cause. She was selected to attend the 61st Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) at the United Nations in New York. Sabrina currently is a member on the Board of Directors for YWCA, a not-for-profit (NFP) which promotes equality and economic security for all women. This year’s UN CSW priority theme is women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work. During the two week commission, emerging female leaders and NFPs gather together to hold discussions as well as to hear from each other about empowering women. We asked Sabrina what she was hoping for prior to her departure to the UN headquarters. “I am really looking forward to meeting women leaders around the world on a cause that is dear to my heart.”

The commission exceeded Sabrina’s expectations.

Throughout the week she attended many events, each giving her a new perspective and opening her eyes to the realities of the world. “I was surprised at the differences and the important issues that surround different countries. The UN CSW was the biggest international event that I have ever been to. I had this amazing opportunity to meet representatives from 193 member states of the UN and I learned so much about the different issues that are important to different regions of the world.” At the Government of Canada reception, she had the opportunity to meet elected government officials including the Minister of the Status of Women, Maryam Monsef (pictured below with Sabrina), and participate in roundtable discussions on important issues facing young women and girls. Minister Monsef emphasized the need to empower women and girls, saying, “When we leave out 50% of the population, our economy will not grow.”

Image of Sabrina with Maryam Monsef, Minister of Status of Women

One of Sabrina’s most memorable moments was attending a townhall with the UN Secretary General, António Guterres (pictured speaking below). In 2015, 193 member states of the UN unanimously adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which includes an ambitious set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). There are 17 SDGs with number 5 being to “achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.” Packed with hundreds of women and men from NGOs and government officials around the world, the Secretary General emphasized the importance of civil and political society working together to achieving the 2030 Agenda. This was another takeaway for Sabrina: “It meant a lot to me to hear world leaders committing to working towards gender equality.”

Image of UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres speaking at townhall event

Guiding Others

“Looking at my own experience at work and at the YWCA, I was extremely fortunate to have great mentors who care about empowering women. We need more great role models, more women on corporate boards and in senior management.” Professionally, Sabrina is a Money Market Trader for a large international bank. She benefited from having a very supportive manager who had taken an interest in guiding her. Since her first day at work, Patricia Castanheiro, Senior FX Trader and VP at The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ had been supportive and encouraged Sabrina to pursue higher education and get engaged in leadership opportunities outside the bank.

“Patricia is an incredible manager, mentor and friend to me. She will always push me to aim higher, learn more and develop my skills. It’s great to have someone like her on my side. It means a lot to me.”

Make a Difference

Sabrina’s main advice to others and prospective students is to get involved. “Though we have come a long way, we still haven’t achieved gender equality. We need to get more women to come forward and take leadership roles. Volunteering for causes brings together like-minded people. I am inspired by all the women trailblazers who came before us and made a difference in this world. Let’s join forces with them and together we can achieve our ambitious goal of 50/50 by 2030”.

Rotman has many programs dedicated to advancing the career of women across many industries through our Initiative for Women in Business.

This article was posted on March 30, 2017.


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