By Verghese V Joseph –
With more than 13 years of experience in international development working for the UN, nonprofits, and private companies, Sara D Anzeo is a versatile professional. She’s dedicated to using her skills and knowledge to bring about change for a more just and equitable world. Her areas of expertise include sustainable business practices, women’s economic involvement, and stakeholder engagement. Her experience and expertise in a range of related fields provide her with the insights and innovative approach required to tackle challenging issues with a pragmatic and problem-solving mentality.
Sara completed her final thesis in comparative law at the University of Miami School of Law in Florida after earning her master’s degree in law from Macerata University in Italy. In a conversation with AsiaBizToday, Sara discusses her aspirations to use her knowledge and abilities to bring about change for a more fair and equitable world.
Her 12-year career in international development includes working in a range of capacities with the UN, for-profit companies, and non-profits. She believes that the fact that her career path hasn’t been easy can be related to many women in global settings. After graduating from the University of Milan in Italy, she moved to the US to work as an immigration lawyer. She was happy in her legal profession, but she yearned for a role that would be more fulfilling on a personal level. This longing led her to the commercial office of the Italian Chamber of Commerce. There, she realised that organising trade exhibits and solving issues pertaining to international trade were her passions and felt more in accordance with her interests.
She eventually made the transition to business development for the international transportation industry. Travelling all around the world for this work gave her a wealth of experience, but eventually she became weary of the corporate environment. Her urge to return to international affairs was strong, particularly to use her experience to causes close to her heart, such as advancing women’s rights, equality, and ethical behaviour in the corporate sector.
Her primary strength, honed during a lengthy career in the corporate world, has been cultivating connections with the private sector, especially in the Asia-Pacific area. As part of her job at ESCAP, she actively engages with investors, organisations, and entrepreneurs in order to raise funds and resources for the Catalysing Women Entrepreneurship programme, which is financed by Global Affairs Canada.
According to Sara, a multitude of systemic obstacles seriously impede women’s economic engagement. The disproportionate share of caregiving obligations that women bear is one of the key difficulties; new ILO data indicates that women in Asia and the Pacific give unpaid care to others 4.1 times more frequently than men. This discrepancy limits women’s access to professional prospects and fosters a vicious cycle of unequal possibilities.
Education, skill development, and resource accessibility are further crucial concerns. Women are often restricted to specific jobs by deeply ingrained social conventions, which hinders their potential to excel and thrive in the workplace. Women often find that their views are neglected in decision-making processes and that they are passed over for leadership jobs, even after they have overcome these challenges and proven their abilities.
Innovation is not defined by gender. The only thing that distinguishes women from men, she believes, is that they often have to overcome distinct challenges, like unequal access to resources, opportunities, and education. It is noteworthy to acknowledge that women are trailblazers in the fields of innovation and consumption. Their experiences, viewpoints, and knowledge foster innovation and ensure that the results are inclusive, long-lasting, and typically meet community requirements. Whenever she gives a discussion, she constantly emphasises how important it is to use women’s skills, ideas, and solutions to create the future we want.
Sara has researched the connection between gender equality, ethical behaviour, and transparency in her capacity as a corporate engagement specialist with the UNDP. A key component of her work is comprehending how procurement, in both the public and commercial sectors, can be a powerful vehicle for improving gender parity. She also discovered that, in addition to being morally right, a more considered approach to supplier diversity is financially sound. Ensuring procurement procedures are transparent and gender-responsive allows us to access a greater diversity of perspectives and abilities while also promoting equality. This approach encourages innovation and equitable growth.
Although there are numerous issues that require immediate attention, one that stands out to her as being especially critical is gender-based violence. Alarming rates of feminicide, sexual violence, cyber violence, and other types of gender-based abuse are still on the rise, despite significant efforts by the UN and other organisations to raise public awareness and put preventive measures in place. In actuality, women will be unable to engage in the economy unless gender-based violence is confronted and eradicated.
It is also important to talk about how women, especially those who are part of marginalised communities, are often the first to feel the effects of climate-related crises, including food insecurity, harsh weather, and water scarcity. Notwithstanding this, a substantial portion of climate finance and frameworks remain mostly gender-neutral. The majority of climate action fails to acknowledge the unique needs and difficulties encountered by women, which is a grave error. Recognising that women are not simply the victims of climate change but also powerful agents of change who should lead the charge in efforts to reverse it is crucial.