Opening of REN Forum

Remarks by Ambassador Laura F. Dogu
Managua, March 8, 2017

Thank you for inviting me to celebrate International Women’s Day. Nicaragua needs empowered women in positions of leadership. This is what the Red de Empresarias de Nicaragua is all about.

As you lead, you will likely encounter unconscious bias and sexism. This refers to prejudices that we are not fully aware of and that occur outside of our control. Unconscious bias can determine how open a workplace is to hire women and accept their input. It can cause some to unconsciously dismiss the leadership of women just because they are women.

And these biases are universal. In one recent study, researchers discovered that both male and female scientists in the United States were more likely to hire men, rank them higher, and pay them higher salaries per year than women, even when all of their qualities were identical except their gender.

To combat this type of unconscious bias it is necessary to reject media depictions that want to focus on women’s looks and men’s successes. As part of that change, we need more women on the boards of Chambers of Commerce. Amcham has added more women to its Board of Directs this year. More women need to represent and speak on behalf of major industries, publish opinion articles in the pages of Nicaragua’s leading newspapers, and give interviews to TV and radio channels.

The gap is not because of lack of leaders but rather from unconscious and historic biases. The UN slogan for International Women’s Day this year is “Women in the Changing world of work: Planet 50-50 by 2030.

Leading for change will require resilience, and so it is important to have the theme of wellness at this forum today. Wellness encompasses being healthy: mentally, spiritually, and physically.

This is a topic that I have emphasized within our Embassy, and I have established a Resilience Committee to help us better address our employee wellness. This group of volunteers is working to empower our employees with skills and tools to respond effectively to change. We live in a country of earthquakes and volcanoes, and we live in an era of technological, social, and economic disruption. Focusing on wellness now will help us be prepared in times of crisis.

The Committee is working to strengthen adaptability, reducing stress, and creating a sense of community within the Embassy. I believe the women of REN are well-positioned to support and promote resilience and wellness within your businesses and families.

REN can feel proud of its work to advance the economic and social development of Nicaragua. As women leaders, your perspective is unique and valuable. Truly, it is irreplaceable. The United States supports you and looks forward to your continued success. Thank you.