WIC: Women’s Influence During the Pandemic
The traditional autumn meeting of the Women Influence Community took place in Moscow. It was the first ‘live’ dialogue since the beginning of the pandemic. During the autumn meeting, community members focused on the topic of business and the social aspects of women’s influence traditionally discussed every year. However, this time, participants of the event talked about not only sustainability, diversity, inclusion, resources, and change management but also the challenges and new opportunities caused by the pandemic.
founder and leader of the Women Influence Community
Each meeting of the Women Influence Community is a bright event having not only deep content but also the festive family-like atmosphere. This year’s event was no exception. Yanina Dubeykovskaya, founder and leader of the Women Influence Community, opened the event. She is a person able to bring positive energy and warmth to any environment. As the wife of a diplomat, she travels a lot around the world. She traditionally starts every speech with a description of how women live in different countries, how they see life, and what things other people can learn from women.
Yanina Dubeykovskaya and her husband moved to Zambia. This is a country with a high level of poverty. It is a place where very hardworking and enterprising people live. Zambian women work a lot and show their creative potential actively. They weave baskets, create panel pictures, and draw paintings for sale. Their special desire for unity and togetherness is another peculiarity of their mentality. It often happens that several mothers who raise their children alone have a common household. According to Yanina Dubeykovskaya, people from other countries can learn a lot from this culture based on mutual assistance, acceptance, and unity of souls. These qualities are especially needed now, when the world is on the threshold of serious changes.
According to the WIC tradition, the ways of women’s influence were the focus of the event. The participants talked about the contribution to the preservation of peace and global development, which women leaders can make during the pandemic.
As emphasized by Anna Belova, innovation expert at the international level, the new coronavirus pandemic has become a ‘voluntary-compulsory springboard’ into the new high-tech reality. In just a few months, the world has overcome a time period that can be compared to 5 years of ordinary life. People of all ages and fields of activity found themselves in isolation and had to master new technologies related to remote communication rapidly.
The pandemic was also accompanied by a major transformation of the system of values. For many people, material benefits have become secondary. It turned out that it is much more important to invest financial and spiritual resources not in the acquisition of new things but in one’s own health and the well-being of one’s family and loved ones.
The notion of ‘new sincerity’ has become particularly important in society. People began to appreciate more such qualities as empathy, compassion, and understanding. The pandemic is a global problem. It would be completely impossible to cope with this challenge without the main human feelings.
This new perception of the world became one of the main topics discussed at the WIC meeting. Participants shared their personal experience of arranging remote work and personal life within new realities.
Women leaders from different spheres of activity took part in the meeting. Many of them are executives, managers of companies and individual projects. During the pandemic, they had a special responsibility to make decisions in a non-standard and unfamiliar situation. In their speeches, participants shared their experience of working with employees remotely. They discussed new challenges and opportunities for development during the self-isolation period.
Making decisions remotely under stressful conditions is a completely different thing. It must be as accurate and thoughtful as possible. Many managers and employees learned that thanks to the pandemic.
The meeting paid special attention to establishing proper communication. The participants unanimously came to the conclusion that communication becomes effective only when it is based on the human values important for all people. Marina Mishunkina, First Deputy Director General of the Argumenty i Fakty Publishing House, shared her experience in establishing that kind of communication. For many years, she has been forming a dialogue between the media and the audience. However, during the pandemic, media representatives felt even more responsible for every word they published.
Elena Orlova, owner of the five-star Gallery Park Hotel & SPA, talked about the responsibility of business towards its clients. In the beginning of the pandemic, most people who booked rooms gave up the rooms they reserved. However, Ms. Orlova didn’t hesitate whether to return money to clients or not. She knew for sure that it was necessary to return the payments for reasons of conscience. According to her, an entrepreneur should first be human. Only then he or she will attract other people.
Marina Volynkina, Rector of the Institute for the Humanities and Information Technologies (IGUMO) and the International College for Arts and Communication (MKIK), shared her experience of working during the pandemic. She faced a difficult task to shift the educational process into online format in one day, to create safe conditions for students and lecturers, and to maintain the educational process without any disruptions. Despite having to work 20 hours a day, not a single lecture was disrupted. In addition, according to students, the online graduation ceremony was the most memorable event of their lives. Perhaps, this is the peculiarity of many women leaders: they work with love giving themselves fully to other people so that their projects bring only benefit to others.
Other members of the Women Influence Community, women leaders from different fields of activity, shared their vision of responsibility for each decision.
“This meeting had a strong African accent. Such an intersection with a completely new culture for many Russian women gave them the energy to see the essence of the phenomena from new perspectives and to expand their own internal frameworks”, emphasizes Yanina Dubeykovskaya.
It is important that the live meeting took place after a long period of self-isolation. All members of the community felt an urgent need for face-to-face communication. That contributed to the unique atmosphere filled with emotions and energy. The participants could not help talking with one another. They continuously exchanged thoughts and ideas they had come to during the self-isolation period.
The exhibition programme became a decoration of the event. Yanina Dubeykovskaya presented a series of photos with colourful images of Zambian women. In addition, each participant had the opportunity to try on African headdresses and handmade jewellery. A panel picture woven by Zambian women became a peculiar symbol of the event. The picture clearly showed the similarity of the seemingly so different women of the world.
Viktoria Yezhova, Global Women Media news agency
Translated by Nikolay Gavrilov