Women’s Entrepreneurship Day (WED) is a day on which the work of women entrepreneurs is observed, discussed, and celebrated, held on the nineteenth of November of each year. The inaugural event in 2014 was held in New York City at the United Nations, with additional events being held simultaneously in several other countries. 144 nations overall recognized the first WED, which included the presentation of the Women’s Entrepreneurship Day Pioneer Awards. The organization behind WED also has an ambassadorship and fellowship program.
Women’s Entrepreneurship Day was founded and implemented by Wendy Diamond, after volunteering with the Adelante Foundation, which provides microcredit to low income women, while in Honduras. Upon her return to the US, she decided she wanted to develop something to help this and similar philanthropic causes. The first WED was held on November 19, 2014, and was observed in 144 countries that year.
It was described by Fortune Magazine as “a global movement to celebrate and support female founders and shed light on some of their challenges.” Forbes Magazine wrote that the intention was also “to mobilize a global network of female business owners, entrepreneurs and change makers who support and empower this community of women entrepreneurs and their businesses.” New York State’s Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City’s Mayor Bill De Blasio proclaimed Women’s Entrepreneurship Day an official day on November 19.
Inaugural event at the United Nations
The Women’s Entrepreneurship Day event convened at the United Nations in New York City, and included a conference, speakers, and the inaugural Women’s Entrepreneurship Day Pioneer Awards. An Education Philanthropy Pioneer Award was given to Barack Obama’s grandmother Sarah Obama, for her work in bringing gender equality to education in her country of Kenya. Obama was presented the award by actress Quvenzhané Wallis. Loreen Arbus received an award for her philanthropic work, as did Lynn Tilton.
Other attendees of the United Nations inaugural launch included actress Rose Byrne; Miss Universe Gabriela Isler; Jimmy Choo co-founder Tamara Mellon; and First Ladies Gertrude Maseko of Malawi and Penehupifo Pohamba of Namibia. Delegations sent from many different nations attended the event as well. A second WED occurred at the United Nations on November 19, 2015, and the third WED event will be held on November 18, 2016. The United Nations Foundation is a founding partner of the events.
Additional events were held internationally, including one at the University of Luxembourg, which held a conference that featured speeches from women entrepreneurs as well as discussions between local entrepreneurs. The keynote address was provided by Deputy Chief Executive of the European Investment Fund Marjut Santoni. Other events were also held, for example, in Lagos, Nigeria. WED founded and launched the Women Wednesday social media event held on the Wednesday after Thanksgiving in 2014, to support women in business and related causes.