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Canadian Women Reach New Heights at World Summit

Canada Export Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
October 19, 1998

By Donna Messer

More than 20 Canadian businesswomen were among the 400 women entrepreneurs, business leaders, policy makers and consumers from 75 countries who took part in the World Summit of Women, held in London, England, July 23-26, 1998.

The summit provided a forum for the businesswomen to discuss and learn more about women's increased participation in the world marketplace. At breakout sessions, conferences, seminars and workshops, the delegates explored issues such as women's economic power and leadership.

Building business relationships

Canadian participation began with a pre-summit luncheon at Canada House, organized in collaboration with the Canadian High Commission in Britain and hosted by Simone Desjardins, senior vice-president, of the Business Development Bank of Canada.

Aiming to promote and build better business relationships, the luncheon allowed British businesswomen, government officials and media to meet with Canadian businesswomen to learn what they have to offer to businesses worldwide.

Learning and networking

The Summit provided numerous opportunities for learning and networking. Absorbing statistics and reports from organizations such as......

Participants also received valuable information on innovative ways by which women can raise capital.

Donna Messer of ConnectUs Communications, who co-ordinate Canada's participation in the Summit, believes that events such as the World Summit are more than profitable to businesswomen.

"More than ever before, Canadian businesswomen know that networking with counterparts and going on missions aboard, as well as working together are profitable and lead to success abroad."

Canadian participants agreed. Suzanne Lebel, president of Genomics One Corporation, a discovery-based biotechnology company in Laval, Quebec, went to the Summit to make contact with women from around the world and from different sectors. "Not only did I meet several of them, I also made valuable contacts with people who can really help me reach markets abroad, such as Canadian trade commissioners posted in Britain."

Concrete Results

Indeed, members of the Canadian delegation came back with new contacts abroad, and also with good business opportunities in the long run.

For Joanna Parris, president of the Association of Image Consultants International, Toronto Chapter, and chair of the non-profit Coalition of Visible Minority Women, the impacts of the World Summit have just started.

"In London, I met with businesswomen from Ghana to Cameroon who are interested in joint ventures with us. But one of the most amazing things for me was to make contacts with Canadian women from coast to coast who are now good friends, as well as potential clients."

The Summit also gave women a practical tool for networking on-line. The Global Women's Trade Network, an international Web site (, was launched during the Summit. The Canadian delegation has hyper linked this site to Canada's Businesswomen in Trade Web site at

For more information on the 1998 World Summit, contact Donna Messer, ConnectUs Communications, tel: (905) 337-9578, fax: (905) 337-9320, email:

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