by Jessi Johnson

South Africa has historically been a nation that sets examples. Within Africa, which as a continent is experiencing new economic growth, South Africa leads the way in international and open-door economic policies. It rebelled against apartheid to become one of the most multi-cultural and multi-ethnic countries in the world. It hosts anti-homophobia symposiums. It was home to the first human-to-human heart transplant, and now South Africa is continuing along its forward-thinking path this year by honoring prominent female leaders at the Women: Inspiration & Enterprise symposium in Cape Town.

The Women: Inspiration & Enterprise symposium brought together prominent leaders from the worlds of politics, business, fashion, philanthropy, media, entertainment and the arts, in a full day of panels, workshops, and classes. The conference works with both women and men from a wide spectrum of industries in order to solidify the ideologies of gender equality. However, the symposium is focused on igniting the spark of enterprise in women who wish to expand their boundaries and pursue careers in any field. The event was comprised of inspirational talks and panels with high profile speakers and guests drawn from the worlds of politics, philanthropy, media, fashion and the arts. Panels discussed such diverse issues as the role of women in technology and the need for global empowerment in an age where death during childbirth is an intolerable risk in many developing countries—and the undeniable importance of clean water sources in at-risk nations.

{Sara Brown} {Elsie Kanza} {Arianna Huffington}

The symposium is an annual event. WIE, founded in 2010, is a global annual conference and online community designed to empower the next generation of women leaders, allowing a yearly space for females of any age to come together and discuss the significant issues facing their gender. Past keynote speakers included Sarah Brown, wife of the former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, designer Donna Karan, and Huffington Post cofounder Arianna Huffington. This year, CNN anchor Robyn Cunrow and Elsie Kanza, Head of Africa at the World Economic Forum made appearances and led panels. Organizations like Wells Bring Hope, which helps bring awareness to the need for clean water sources and women’s health, honor the same spirit of empowerment that the symposium does. An annual global gathering of this size showcases how women are participating in the global conversation and taking a central role in shaping the Africa of tomorrow.