Betting on Virtual Solutions for Real Impact

Apr 28 , 2024
By Eden Sahle

Since graduating from law school, I have attended countless women's conferences and workshops. These gatherings offer valuable learning opportunities and connections with inspiring people and organisations. However, a common thread weaves through these in-person events is hefty price tags.

High-star hotels usually host these conferences, and the costs associated with venue rentals, catering, and breaks seem excessive for resource-strapped organisations. Logistics consume a major portion of time, with tea and lunch breaks disrupting the flow and exhausting participants. Security measures for high-ranking officials further eat into valuable conference time – a hurdle easily avoided with virtual meetings.

Organisations pay speakers and paper presenters sometimes, even those incurring minimal travel costs within the city. I once presented research at a conference, receiving a substantial honorarium that I had to donate back to the organisation.

Leaders working for women's justice, equity, and opportunity spend a surprising amount of time planning frequent conferences. Resources are poured into designing and printing banners, roll-ups, stage covers, flyers, and booklets – all to attract women who are already successful.

These resources could be far better used to empower vulnerable women seeking justice and opportunities. Conference budgets could be directed towards those who need them most. Open, strategic virtual campaigns and meetings, inclusive of both genders, can be more effective than closed-door hotel discussions with a select group.

The pandemic highlighted the power of virtual gatherings. Online conferences and workshops offer a cost-effective way to connect large numbers of people. Virtual platforms offer wider reach, easier information dissemination, and more equitable speaking opportunities. This approach attracts a broader audience, including potential supporters of their mission.

Virtual meetings remove geographical limitations, allowing regional and global participation. Experts and mentors can share educational content, research, and projects online, making it easier for the public to learn and contribute as allies. Recordings of virtual sessions further enhance information transfer and accessibility.

Networking remains effective online. Most virtual platforms display participant names, contact details, and business cards, facilitating connections during and after the conference. Going virtual offers substantial value for managing tight budgets.

Virtual meetings provide dynamic solutions for collaboration, ideal for large groups. They empower organisations and individuals to connect effortlessly across financial and geographical barriers. Non-profits can significantly reduce travel, accommodation, and venue costs, allowing them to allocate resources more efficiently towards core goals.

This shift frees up valuable time for professionals to focus on solutions rather than logistics. Individuals gain the flexibility to attend conferences from their homes or offices, boosting overall participation. The time saved through virtual meetings translates into enhanced productivity for professionals.

Collaboration tools and screen-sharing features in virtual meetings enable seamless communication and idea exchange. This leads to more focused discussions, faster decision-making, and smoother collaboration without disruptive breaks. It also allows to gather and analyze feedback, leading to improved interaction and progress towards shared goals of expanding human rights.

Virtual meetings open doors for men and women to come together, learn from each other and work towards equality. Networking, discussions, and problem-solving in a virtual space can foster collaborative solutions. Increased interaction and dialogue between genders can lead to a better understanding of historical biases and pave the way for their elimination.

Creating a diverse and inclusive virtual platform is crucial for achieving gender equality goals. Shifting conferences and workshops online requires strategic planning and creativity. Done effectively, this approach can empower non-profit organisations to expand their reach and support to the women who need them most. It is a worthwhile initiative – cost-effective, time-efficient, and a powerful tool for widespread impact.

PUBLISHED ON Apr 28,2024 [ VOL 25 , NO 1252]

Eden Sahle is founder and CEO of Yada Technology Plc. She has studied law with a focus on international economic law. She can be reached at

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