Conference flies flag for women in business

Carmen Taheny, BPW National President. The 16th European Conference will be hald in the Bailey Allen Hall at NUI Galway.
Carmen Taheny, BPW National President. The 16th European Conference will be hald in the Bailey Allen Hall at NUI Galway.

Lifestyle – Some of Europe’s most influental women will gather in Galway this month for the European Conference of the Business and Professional Women’s Group. The organisation’s Irish president, Galwaywoman Carmen Taheny tells Denise McNamara what’s involved.

When Carmen Taheny attended the European conference of the Business and Professional Women (BPW) in Sorrento during her first tenure as President of the Irish organisation in 2012, it occurred to her that this was an event perfect for Galway.

“I said to myself, if the Italians can do it, why can’t we bring this home?” she recalls over coffee.

“Everything was an hour late – that’s not saying bad about the Italians – one of my daughters is married to one. But this was a way to really put the Irish BPW on the map and bring all these European women to Ireland.”

Back at home, Carmen worked with colleagues on a pitch that would persuade the organisation which boasts 30,000 members worldwide – 20,000 of them in Europe – to head for the most westerly isle in the Atlantic.

In November 2013 she went to Brussels making the bid on behalf of BPW Ireland, against competition from Paris, Estonia, Istanbul and Reykjavik.

“I remember thinking we’d never beat Paris. It was 2014 and I was sitting in the Meyrick Hotel sipping Champagne with a colleague who was about to get married when I got the call that we’d won. It couldn’t have been more perfect.”

From May 24-26, more than 400 women from 30 countries will descend on Galway for the 16th European BPW Conference – the largest gathering of European women ever to meet in Ireland.

The conference’s theme is peace, focusing on people, education, ambition, communication and environment.

The impressive list of Irish and international speakers includes Marie Louise Coleiro Preca, who stepped down as president of Malta last month following her appointment by parliament for five years. She will discuss the experience of refugees in Malta and the impact their mass arrival has had on that island nation.

The long-term parliamentarian turned what had been a largely ceremonial role into a more grassroots office, highlighting the plight of women suffering domestic violence, immigrants, people with disabilities and the issue of male suicide.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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