Women Connect in Berlin

On June 1, the Robert Bosch Foundation Alumni Association graciously sponsored the year’s second Women Connect event – co-hosted by Kate Polin and Annie Mark-Westfall (Bosch XXXI), together with Sophie Stuetzel (currently with the Chancellery, but previously a colleague during Annie’s first Stage at the Ministry of Economic Development and Cooperation/BMZ).

The event was hosted at The Word, Berlin – a Literature Café and Lending Library, Craft Beer Bar, Event Space, featuring books on Black, POC and LGBTQ experience. We are grateful to the owners for welcoming us into their space, in Schoeneberg.

The event’s theme was Women Through the Ages. The event featured an impressive panel of women in distinct phases, ages, and professions, followed by time for questions and then an informal cocktail hour. During the panel, we heard from each participant what it means to be a woman as an individual in all her roles—and how these conceptions have been shaped and changed over time and space.

  • Sumi Somaskanda (Bosch XXV – senior news anchor at Deutsche Welle) moderated the evening;
  • Kusi Okamura (publisher and founding editor of The Wild Word online magazine) provided the introduction;

Additional members of the all-star panel included:

  • Aina Abioudun – a Nigerian-American entrepreneur, most recently the CEO of 8fit, a Berlin-based global health and fitness start up;
  • Gaby Bischoff – President of the German Trade Union Federation, and then also Berlin’s newly elected Member of European Parliament, as a member of the SPD);
  • Brigitte Triems – chairwoman of the Democratic Women’s Union;
  • Katie Gallus – geographer, moderator, storyteller

Chatham House Rules apply to all Women Connect events. We provided the following information to our guests, to prepare them for the evening:

Women are a powerful source of wisdom for each other. We are each other’s teachers, generation to generation. Unfortunately, the current feminist movement is marked, among other things, by intergenerational tensions. Second wave feminists (activists in the 1960s and 70s), those who came of age in the third-wave (1990s), and younger women find it difficult to see eye-to-eye. Through this event, we seek to give women of different generations and backgrounds a platform to tell her/their unique stories.

We aim to create an environment where these perspectives are heard and discussed with compassion and curiosity. And we hope to bridge the different experiences, contexts and language represented, enabling the sharing of lessons learned and powerful cooperation.

Women-led salons have historically been an integral part of the time leading up to the democratization and opening of societies—around the world and across times. Women Connect strives to honor and build on this legacy. By fostering a cross-cultural, intergenerational female community, we hope to provide the opportunity to, through discourse, better understand ourselves, and the challenges and successes we face—and, in doing so, spark the ideas to change our world for the better.

Following this event, Women Connect took a hiatus for the remainder of 2019; however, we look forward to returning with more great events, and new family members!, in 2020. Thank you once again to the generous gifts from the RBFAA to sponsor Women Connect.

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