#DareToBeAGirl Symposium by #theodoravoutsaproductions Foundation and #pwn_Amsterdam

#DareToBeAGirl Symposium

by the Stichting Theodora Voutsa Productions

and the Professional Women's Network Amsterdam

# DareToBeAGirl is an evening where women and men dare to take part to be supported, to be empowered, to be guided, but most of all to be inspired to create change.

In the TED ‘style’, invited guest speakers  share facts and personal stories that  enlighten us on matters of leadership, empowerment, equality, human rights and humanism.

Our goals for the symposium are:

  • To support the advancement of women, to learn and grow.
  • To empower women to propel themselves into leadership roles.
  • To create awareness about the position of women today.
  • To create calls to action.

Our Keynote Speaker:

Sybilla Dekker, Ambassador, Talent to the Top (Talent naar de Top). We are so pleased that Sybilla has agreed to be our Keynote Speaker. Sybilla is not alone in her quest of having women be an equal part of the decision making voice in the Netherlands. However, she has and continues to be, committed to fostering leadership and empowerment of women and minorities in the labor market and in organizations. Sybilla, we welcome you and so look forward to hearing you share your vision and ideas. Please see Sybilla's bio below. 

Our Master of Ceremonies: Allison Hamilton-Rohe, owner of DailyOutfit and a PWN Amsterdam member and one of our Mentoring Leads, has accepted to take on the role of MC for this event. 

Guest Presenters: 

The following guest speakers share their stories and their inspiration. One word that captures the essence of all these speakers is 'Dare'. These are definitely 'Women on the Move'!

  • Sabine Nӧlke, Ambassador of Canada to the Kingdom of the Netherlands 
  • Lin McDevitt-Pugh, Author and environmental/human right’s activist 
  • Sheetal Shah, Head of Department Behavioral and Social Sciences Webster University - Leiden 
  • Maja Groff, Senior legal officer Permanent Bureau Hague Conference on Private International Law 
  • Ghida Ibrahim, Data Scientist/ICT Engineer/Social Entrepreneur 
  • Esther Mollema, Thought leader on (gender) diversity in high performance organizations (HPO) 
  • Astrid van Heumen, Managing Partner at Corporate Casting
  • Bea Haring, Partner EY 
  • Saskia Maas, Founder Boom Chicago 
  • Manuela Damant, Founder Open The Door Leadership 
  • Emmy McCarthy, Founder Stichting Amsterdam Mamas/McCarthy Consulting
  • Corrine Dettmeijer, Dutch National Rapporteur on Trafficking in Human Beings and Sexual Violence against Children 


Almost two years ago, in May 2015 the Stichting Theodora Voutsa Productions was born. We had created a centre for the Arts, Culture and Development and now we had to start create content and offer value.

We decided that our 4 year artistic plan would revolve around women and their empowerment. We chose as our first production, the one we would use to introduce our foundation to the world, to be "Antigone" by Sophocles. Antigone is the first play in theatre history to have a strong female character as its hero. A girl who dares to stand up for her values and do what she believes to be right, despite what society is dictating.

Our production of Antigone, with an international cast of 32 artists, was presented at the Compagniethater in Amsterdam, in March and November 2016 to a sold out venue and received great reviews and standing ovations every night.


During my research for the play I was about to direct, I cam across some numbers that where to the least disappointing. I could not believe that in 2016, in an educated and developed country women get paid less for doing the same job as others. I could not understand why women's bodies were not their own and they had to have laws or permissions to act on them. I could not accept that number one cause of death in girls under 15 was child birth. And the list went on.

The theatrical production had helped start a conversation about daring to be a girl, about women's rights and empowerment. I wanted to continue the dialogue and take it beyond the stage lights. I wanted to create a Symposium where women and men could share opinions, start a dialogue and come up calls to action that can implement change.

Fortunately organisations like the Professional Women's Network exist. I approached them with the idea of a Symposium and they jumped immediately on board. It proved to me, once more, the power of the Mastermind. It proved the importance of connecting and joining forces; how much more we can do when we support each other than we antagonise and blame.

Mary Jane Roy and Amber Rahim from the PWN_Amsterdam became my team, "co-warriors", my navigators through this process. I had never organised a Symposium before. mary Jane was very generous in sharing her long experience as a PWN member and organiser.

We gathered the speakers. We all opened our agendas and sent emails, made phone calls, promoted our cause and people believed and joined.

We found our sponsors, the Lloyd Hotel and Cultural Embassy in Amsterdam, Greek Food Tales and Areti Botonaki, to help us make this the best possible experience for our participants and our speakers.

We had another great addition to our team, Allison Hamilton-Rohe, a dynamic lady, had agreed to be our MC.

And January 19, 2017 arrived.

Mary Jane and I arrived early at the Lloyd and throughout the day people would add to our team. And by 5:30pm everything was ready to open the doors. And what happened after changed me in ways I will never forget.

Our audience, a full house, as we say in the theatre, a sold out event. Women- and men, interested in making changes, in being part of the conversation. 

Our speakers, women from Business, Academia, NGOs, Ambassadors, sharing their personal stories on how they got where they are, on how they achieved success. Being so generous and sharing "inside" stories with all of us. What were their secrets? How did they do it?

Education, strong sense of principles and values, persistence, humour were some of the common characteristics among these women. They all believed in themselves when no one else did and they pulled through. They all had "motion" within them. They were not satisfied with stability, comfort and security. They dared to raise their hand and grab what they believed was theirs, because they worked for it, because they earned it.

We thank them for the paths they discovered and opened them for us all.


Thank you to all who contributed for this inspiring evening.

Eternally grateful,


Our speakers:


Speaker profile

Sybilla M. Dekker is former Minister of Housing, Spatial Planning and Environment – May 2003 till October 2006 (Balkenende II and III). Sybilla Dekker is ambassador to the Foundation “Talent naar de Top” (Talent to the Top). For many years, she has been committed to fostering leadership and empowerment of women and minorities in the labor market and in organizations. In 2012 this commitment was rewarded with the international TIAW World of Difference 100 Award (Washington). Sybilla Dekker has extensive experience at both organizational and political level, as she has been on various supervisory boards (BNG Bank, RHDHV, AKZO-Nobel, Dutch Railways, Heineken Nederland BV and Rabobank Nederland). Before her ministry, she also held various management positions at employers’ organisations and governmental institutions. Currently Sybilla Dekker is chairwoman of the Supervisory Board Kadaster (the Netherlands' Cadastre, Land Registry and Mapping Agency), member of the Colleges Financieel Toezicht Curacao en St. Maarten/BES-eilanden en Aruba (Colleges Financial Supervision Curacao and St. Martin/BES-islands and Aruba), chairwoman of the Strategic Advisory Board of TNO Built Environment, chairwoman of the National Board of Public Transport and chairwoman of the Round Table on Project Mainport Rotterdam Maasvlakte II. Sybilla Dekker is closely associated with various social and cultural organizations (a.o. the Scheepvaart Museum Amsterdam).


Speaker profile

Ms. Sabine Nölke Ambassador of Canada to the Kingdom of the Netherlands and Permanent Representative of Canada to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons Sabine Nölke (BA, University of Western Ontario, 1978; MA [English Literature], University of Western Ontario, 1980; LLB, University of Western Ontario, 1985; LLM [Public International Law], London School of Economics and Political Science, 1996) began her career with External Affairs and International Trade Canada in 1992 as junior counsel in the Economic and Trade Law Division. Starting in 1993, in Ottawa, Ms. Nölke served as counsel in the Legal Operations Division, as deputy director of the United Nations, Criminal and Treaty Law Division and as director of the United Nations, Human Rights and Economic Law Division. She served abroad, at the High Commission of Canada in London and with the Canadian delegation to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe in Vienna. From 1999 to 2004, Ms. Nölke was co-counsel in Legality of Use of Force (Serbia and Montenegro v. Canada) before the International Court of Justice. Ms. Nölke is the recipient of a Minister of Foreign Affairs Award for Foreign Policy Excellence; prior to her appointment to the Netherlands, she was Director-General of the Non-Proliferation and Security Threat Reduction Bureau. Ms. Nölke is married to Christopher D. Ram and has one daughter, Eilidh. Sabine Nölke replaces James Lambert.


Speaker profile

Astrid has as they say enjoyed a carefree childhood, with plenty of attention to art, culture, sports and games. With a sense of adventure and the aim to reach academic enrichment she pursued Japanese Studies and Social Economic History. She began her career as a marketing manager for the Port of Amsterdam, then became a commodities trader, and eventually an investment banker. David de Goede lured her away from all of that to work with him in the world of corporate matchmaking. As a result she became co-owner and Managing Partner of Corporate Casting in August 2015. Her curiosity is usually one step ahead of her ambition. It is not the prize, but the hunt that drives her. It is that triumph that makes her stronger, that compels her to win. But above all, she believes in Corporate Casting because ‘it is always a people business’. In addition, Astrid is dedicated to supporting the empowerment of women by founding the Damesgenootschap Kenau (2012). An impressive group of women with a strong character and great potential in several professions and working fields, discussing Women Economic Empowerment. They meet quarterly in the offices of Corporate Casting. Astrid and the artist Mariecke van der Linden are actively involved in the project The New Portrait Gallery at the Hermitage Museum in Amsterdam. Astrid holds several advisory positions in the world of arts and culture as well.


Speaker profile

Manuela Damant is a Leadership Expert dedicated to empowering high potential women and ultimately transforming our current concepts of leadership & the workplace. She started her career working in insurance and in 1997 she joined Shell International Ltd. in Switzerland from where she transferred to their London Risk & Insurance Team in 2000. Between 2004 and 2006 she trained with the well-known Robert Dilts & Ian McDermott at the International Teaching Seminars (ITS) in London, one of the most respected NLP and coaching training schools in the UK and Europe, and between 2007 and 2009 she become a certified NLP Trainer with the Academy for Wealth and Success in Australia. Since establishing her NLP & Coaching practice in 2004, Manuela has provided coaching, training and delivered workshops throughout the UK, Australia and now the Netherlands. Besides working with individuals from various different backgrounds she has been fortunate to coach or train within large organizations such as Shell International Ltd, Sensis, National Australia Bank, IBM Australia and TomTom. In 2015 she co-founded Open The Door (www.openthedoorleadership.com), a coaching & training company specializing in aiding women to step up, speak up and play bigger and she is supporting large organisation in their ambition to keep their female talent fully engaged and strong. During the same year she co-organised the thus far one and only TEDxDelftWomen with the aim of inspiring and motivating even more women to work, learn and challenge stereotypes together. Manuela brings over 10 years of international business experience to her coaching. She has changed career, moved countries several times and together with her Yorkshire husband is raising three girls under the age of seven in the beautiful city of Delft.


Speaker profile

Born in rural Australia, Lin McDevitt-Pugh finished high school in Papua New Guinea, studied politics and history at Melbourne University and taught Australian History at a suburban high school for six months before activism began tugging hard. Human rights is her passion. As a management consultant with a UK Masters in Business degree, and an award-winning writer, Lin works with organizations that promote the dignity and respect of all people. Lin is an expert in utilizing connections, and has developed a networked approach to managing complex assignments. She has trained in working with and from values, and encourages clients to explore with their staff the values they bring to the organization. Utilizing these values expands the ability of the organization to be successful.


Speaker profile

Dr. Sheetal Shah is a Psychologist in practice since 1999. She specializes in the field of counseling for chronic illnesses viz. Epilepsy, HIV/AIDS, and special target groups like commercial sex workers and victims of human trafficking. She was responsible for designing and managing Asia’s 1st help line for Population Services International (PSI), Washington, specializing in issues related to HIV/ AIDS and sexuality. She has also been affiliated to various academic institutions for training and supervising counselors at the post graduate level. Having completed her M.A. (Psy.) in the U.K. (University of Sussex) followed by an M.Phil. and Ph.D. in India (S.N.D.T. University, Mumbai); she is well sensitized towards the cultural issues that influence the client - counselor dynamics. As Head of Department of Behavioral & Social Sciences at Webster Leiden, she teaches courses on Research Methods, Sexual Issues in Counseling, Community Psychology & Community Research, and International Psychology. Her research and intervention focus is on Victims of Sex Trafficking therefore trying to understand human rights from a psycho-social perspective. Her strategy for planning intervention programs is bottom up i.e. victim/survivor focused. In 2011 she conceptualized and developed The Bijlmer Project for Webster University Leiden’s department of Behavioral and Social Sciences. The project’s main objective is to identify and address the psychosocial needs of trafficked women and men in the European Union. Experiences of working in the field and seeing implications of trauma first hand guides her vision for the Bijlmer Project. The second phase of the project Bijlmer Bridge 2Hope was launched in November 2014. For more information please visit www.thebijlmerproject.com


Speaker profile

Ghida Ibrahim is a Data Scientist and ICT Engineer with ~ 6 years of operational and research experience within two major Internet Service providers worldwide. In her very recent role, Ghida works as a senior Data Scientist for Liberty Global in Amsterdam where she uses the company’s data for understanding customer churn, enabling predictive network maintenance and recommending TV programs and video products to consumers. Ghida holds a PhD and Masters in ICT Engineering from Telecom ParisTech, France leading engineering school in ICT. Her research, focusing on optimizing web content distribution and delivery in the future internet, was conducted within the R&D division of Orange in Paris. Ghida equally holds an online specialization in Data Science from Johns Hopkins University. In addition to her full-time job, Ghida started Rafiqi, an online platform for connecting refugees in Europe to volunteering mentors. She is a contributor to the World Economic Forum, both in her capacity as a Global Shaper of the Amsterdam hub and an appointed member of the Global Future Council on the future of computing, a group of 20 experts reflecting on the evolution of computing and how to use new technologies to enhance the public good. Last but not least, Ghida is the VP of programs of Arab Women in Computing, a NGO focusing on Arab women empowerment through technology and entrepreneurship.


Speaker profile

Background ► Born in 1966 in The Hague, the Netherlands ► Bea holds a degree from the University of Leiden and management certificates from IMD Business School, Ashridge and Harvard. ► Married to Ton and has one son ► Bea started her career at EY in 1990. In January 2000 she was promoted to partner and held the position of Managing Partner People Advisory Services (PAS) in the Hague. From 2003 to 2008 Bea was the Country Practice Leader of and in charge of PAS the Netherlands. ► From 2004 to 2008, Bea was a member of the Global PAS Leadership team. In that role she was responsible for People and Learning, building global competency framework, and for further development of EY’s PAS strategy. Experience ► Bea joined the BeNe Regional Leadership Team in 2008. ► From July 2008 till September 2015 Bea was the BeNe Talent Leader, in that role she was responsible for further development of EY’s talent strategy and the roll out of that strategy in BeNe. ► From March 2015 she fulfils the role of BeNe Accounts Leader. In this role she is responsible for the go-to-market strategy and roll out of that strategy in BeNe. ► As a senior People Advisory Partner she serves multinational clients on Global Mobility matters. Bea has a multidisciplinary skill set, including tax/law, people management, organizational design and business strategy.



Speaker profile

Maja Groff is an international lawyer based in The Hague, assisting in the development, negotiation and servicing of international, multilateral treaties. Maja works on existing and potential global treaties addressing areas of child law, issues disproportionately affecting women (including violence against women and human trafficking), persons with disabilities, access to legal information and other topics. She conducts liaison work with international professional associations, NGOs and other international organisations (including various U.N. bodies), and has played a key role in the co-ordination of a range of international conferences and expert groups. Maja holds degrees from McGill (civil law and common law), Oxford and Harvard Universities, and is an attorney admitted to practice in the state of New York. She serves on the United Nations Committee of the New York City Bar Association, and is a member of the Advisory Boards of BCorp Europe and ebbf, organisations devoted to ethical business.


Speaker profile

Esther Mollema is the founder and Director of Direction (1999). Her drive for more diversity and female leadership put her on the map in Europe. Esther has trained over 10,000 women worldwide as well as the larger part of Dutch business leaders, with the concept of Female Leadership and implicit bias. As of 2007 Esther Mollema is General Director of the HPO Center linking diversity as an important driver for High Performance Organizations. Esther is the Dutch partner of the Professional Boards Forum since 2012. Esther published two books: ‘50% more talent' about the unwritten rules of the game (2009)) and Success in Managing Diversity (2015) in designing diverse organizations. Esther Mollema was selected for TheNextWomen100 2014 and 2016 list. TheNextWomen100 is a top 100 of the most successful female entrepreneurs in the Netherlands. " Looking back I realize again what a great gift Esther Mollema has given to all women. I hope I can attend more workshops and learn more from her!” Ilse Roeleveld, Compliance Officer ING


Speaker profile

Corinne Dettmeijer is the Dutch National Rapporteur on Trafficking in Human Beings and Sexual Violence against Children. She was appointed as Dutch National Rapporteur in 2006. Her recommendations have for instance, led to a doubling of the capacity for the investigation of child pornography and a greater realization that the approach to tackle it must not be confined to investigation and prosecution (Ministry of Security and Justice), but must also extend to prevention and identifying and providing assistance for victims (Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport). A further development is that there are now also judges specializing in human trafficking cases. On the recommendation of the National Rapporteur, a campaign has also been launched against child sexual abuse. Corinne Dettmeijer regularly speaks at conferences and visits dignitaries in the Netherlands and abroad. Corinne Dettmeijer has for many years been a judge at the district court of The Hague. From 1995 until 2014 she served as vice president of the court. As a judge, she handled cases in juvenile, criminal, family and migration law. She has been a member of several (international) professional bodies and advisory committees in the field of juvenile law. The Dutch magazine Opzij elected Ms Dettmeijer in 2015 and 2016 as one of the most powerful women in the Netherlands working on justice and public policy.


Speaker profile

Allison Hamilton-Rohe is a Personal Style Coach from New York, currently living in Leiden. She created a unique formula to help you discover your personal style. Through her company, DailyOutfit, she coaches you to define your true beauty and translate it into a personal style you can inhabit with ease. She believes everyone can feel beautiful & confident every day. To learn more about her or receive your FREE Personal Style Starter Series, check out her site www.dailyoutfit.com or follow her on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter.