At SXSW, London Mayor Sadiq Khan Advocates for Gender Equality

By Laura Lorek
Publisher of Silicon Hills News

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, visited Capital Factory Sunday evening during a special South by Southwest event.

He called for a “redoubling of efforts” to achieve gender equality.

“It’s still the case in the U.S.A. and the U.K. that if you are born a girl your life chances are less than if you are born a boy,” Khan said.

“If you are a young woman entering a career in any field, your chances of reaching the pinnacle are less than a young man entering that field and that can’t be right,” Khan said.

People need to work together to fight for equality and stand up for what’s right, Khan said.

“Deeds mean more than words,” Khan said. He told people to not just “talk the talk” but “walk the walk.”

“My message to men here we’ve got to be allies in this fight for gender equality,” Khan said. “You know what, if we get gender equality we’ll all benefit. There is no downside. It’s not a zero-sum game.”

London launched a digital tech program to train young girls and those from underserved communities in London to make sure they have the skills for the jobs of tomorrow, Khan said.

“This tech revolution. This fourth industrial revolution is not something you should be scared of,” he said. “We’ve got to surf the wave.”

“This fight for gender equality is a fight that affects you whether you are from Austin, San Francisco, New York, London, Seattle, Delhi, Karachi, Singapore, Hong Kong,” Khan said. “I want to end with the words of one of my heroes and she’s a Nobel Prize winner and she was somebody who risked her life to get an education. She fled her country of origin and came to my country to receive an education, Malala Yousafzai.” …She said “How can all of us succeed if half of us are held back. And my ambition and it’s a priority of my administration for the next 36 years while I’m the Mayor is to make sure, make sure, we win the fight against gender inequality and finally get gender equality.”

The event on Sunday also featured Kerry O’Connor, Austin’s Chief Innovation Officer and a panel of female entrepreneurs from London who talked about their experiences growing their startups. London has launched the #BehindEveryGreatCity campaign to focus on promoting women entrepreneurs.

And the push to diversity has real positive economic consequences.

“Racially diverse teams outperform non-diverse teams by 35 percent, across Canada, Latin America, the UK, and the U.S.,” according to a McKinsey report. “And $12 trillion could be added to global GDP by 2025 by advancing women’s equality.”

On Monday, Khan will give a keynote speech at SXSW. He’s the first British politician to do so. In that speech, he is expected to call on cities and governments globally to do more to harness technology but also to guard against growing and significant risks. He’s expected to tell social media giants that they must take more responsibility for preventing the spread of hate speech and fake news on their platforms. He will also read some of the racist, abusive tweets that he has received since becoming Mayor.

The Mayor will also argue that ‘evolving economies must mean evolving regulation’ – and that requires political intervention when necessary.

The Mayor’s Office also showed this video for the first time spotlighting female entrepreneurs in London.

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