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Celebrate and Accelerate Female Leadership at the Canadian Water Summit

Today, the Canada-U.S. Council for Advancement of Women Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders called for a high-profile campaign to encourage women-led entrepreneurship. This matches with the Canadian Water Summit’s desire to help elevate the conversation around Women in Water with our diversity brunch this June 21st.

So, we spoke to president and founder of Waterlution, Karen Kun about her thoughts on how accelerate the work of women entrepreneurs and the potential for female leadership in the water sector. “What excites me about this announcement today, is that I think it’s about having a supportive network, but with content understood within sectors,” said Kun. “From what I see in the water sector, the talent pools are strong. There’s so many young, vibrant, educated women in the water sector.”

The Council’s third report, Attracting Women Entrepreneurs, Encouraging Women to Start Businesses, expressed confidence that such a campaign would boost the two countries’ competitive advantage in the global economy. The report from the Canada-U.S. Council called for the You Are Ready campaign as one of four recommendations proposed by the third pillar of the council’s five-pillar mandate. It also acknowledged the strides made by women entrepreneurs in recent decades but noted that women-owned businesses are generally small, with limited growth prospects, and heavily concentrated in a handful of sectors.

In the water sector, “there’s still an inclination where you see more women on the policy side and more men on the technical side,” said Kun, but she noted that’s changing. At Waterlution’s Water Innovation Lab events, she has seen a really strong female presence.

Karen Kun speaks at the Water Innovation Lab in Porto, Portugal. Credit: European Innovation Partnerships (EIP).

Kun imagines an even more robust program than that recommended by the Council. “I think there needs to be an institute set up for female collaboration,” said Kun. “You need women meeting with each other and supporting each other’s trajectory. I think women work very well on teams, and I think a leadership institute and collaboration could be part of it.”

For Kun, an important goal is that structural programs create an environment in which women can elevate each other’s confidence. “And I think that confidence is about increasing one’s risk tolerance,” she said.

The Council’s report also noted that it’s a high priority to expand the presence of women-owned businesses in sectors that are set to dominate the emerging digital economy, such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and the internet of things.

This aligns with Kun’s thoughts, “[Women] need relevant, up-to-date information on where the market potential or career potential lies.”

Learn more about the work of Karen Kun and Waterlution on the website And make sure to catch the Women in Water Diversity Brunch and Karen Kun at the 2018 Canadian Water Summit. More preliminary program details are available here:

Feature Image: the Canadian Water Summit’s 2017 Women in Water Networking Breakfast.

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