Women’s Pavilion, in collaboration with Cartier, celebrates inauguration with stories of female empowerment

Expo 2020 Dubai’s Women’s Pavilion, in collaboration with Cartier, celebrated its inauguration by highlighting stories of how women are thriving across many different sectors and geographical regions. An international press conference was attended by Cyrille Vigneron, President and CEO of Cartier, Hind Alowais, Vice President of the International Participants Department, Expo 2020 Dubai, and the Women’s Pavilion’s four commissioned artists: Laura Gonzalez, eL Seed, Nadine Labaki and Mélanie Laurent.

Hind Alowais, Vice President of the International Participants Department, Expo 2020 Dubai, highlighted the UAE’s commitment to empowerment: “The UAE has always put gender equality and women’s empowerment first. Our Founding Father used to say that nothing brings him more pleasure than to see women take an equal place in society. Our leadership felt that there is no way that we can have an Expo that is about changing the world if it wasn’t addressing equality, honouring women and creating a space that can bring this principle to life.”

Cyrille Vigneron, President and CEO of Cartier, cautioned against complacency: “The path to gender equality is a long path and the worst thing we could do is regress. What my mother faced to be a working woman in France 50 years ago was difficult. All countries are moving in their own way but we also see regression when it comes to gender equality. We have to move forward from wherever we start, and that’s a place to rejoice and celebrate.”

The artists shared how they contributed to the creation of the Women’s Pavilion. French architect Laura Gonzalez revealed: “When Cartier approached me to design the façade of the Women’s Pavilion, this project represented the fact that all women can achieve their dreams. The first impression is very important so I’m very grateful for this opportunity.”

International multidisciplinary artist eL Seed’s artwork or ‘calligraffiti’, as he calls it, transformed the lower part of the pavilion’s façade. He said: “The façade was a platform to amplify the voice of women in Nepal and to tell a story. I linked the façade to a ‘calligraffiti’ project I created in a small village, located two to three hours’ drive from Kathmandu, which was rebuilt entirely by women using earthquake-resistant bricks, following the earthquake in 2015 in Nepal.”

French actress, screenwriter and director Mélanie Laurent was asked to choose one art form to communicate and create change. She explained that times have changed. “Today is better; we have opportunities and we have fought so hard not to have to make this choice for real. Let’s hope that for tomorrow, everyone will have the same freedoms.”

Lebanese actress and director Nadine Labaki said: “We need to start thinking in alternative ways and explore how the world can transition to where it should be. The pandemic revealed a lot of failures in our system and things that need to change – the short documentary [that I worked on for the Women’s Pavilion] provided an opportunity to hop on this train [of alternative thinking] and start the journey.”

Celebrating the significant – and often forgotten – contributions of women, Expo 2020 Dubai’s Women’s Pavilion, in collaboration with Cartier, demonstrates that when women thrive, humanity thrives. It highlights the important contributions women have made in advancing societies, as well as the challenges women still face, especially as the world navigates the COVID-19 pandemic and works towards a more sustainable future.