For the past 15 years, the Cartier Women’s Initiative has spotlighted pioneering female entrepreneurs who are making great sustainable strides — both in terms of social and environmental impact — within fashion, tech, and science. The competition has sponsored over 260 women and awarded over $4 million in financial support since the program’s inception in 2006. Ahead of this year’s event, which takes place from May 24 to May 26 and will be held virtually, the luxury brand unveiled its 24 finalists for the 2021 Cartier Women’s Initiative.
As is tradition, the award categories are broken up by region and the finalists will vie for one of the top three spots in each of the seven categories. This year’s monetary grand prize is $1.2 million and will be given out to the first place winners in $100,000 increments. Those who place in second or third will receive $30,000. In addition to the existing Regional Awards, for the first time in the history of the program, the 2021 event will also include a new honor: the Science & Technology Pioneer Award. The new award recognizes three women at the forefront of scientific and technological advancement. According to a press release from Cartier, the award will highlight the disruptive solutions built around unique, protected, or hard-to-reproduce technological or scientific advances.
The shortlist of potential laureates for the 2021 Cartier Women’s Initiative hail from 142 countries, including Mali, Iraq, and Myanmar. (This marks the CWI’s first time hosting women from the three countries.) Names to remember on this year’s list of finalists include New York City’s Rebecca Hui, who works with indigenous artists to digitize and license their work in order to protect their work from appropriation and theft. There’s also Seynabou Dieng whose food processing company Maya partners with farmers in Mali to support the local agriculture economy while Mimi Wu of Mynamar Recycles leads a recycling initiative in Southwest Asia. Prior winners include environmental researcher and engineer Chunguang Charlotte Wang and Nadia Gamal El Din, whose Egypt-based company, Rahet Bally, offers support for new mothers. The full list of 2021’s finalists is available to browse on cartierwomensinitiative.com.
The 24 finalists aren’t the only inspiring women who will be honored at the event. The two-day summit will include guest speakers like Tiffany Dufu, founder and CEO of female networking platform The Cru, the award-winning journalist Maria Shriver of Shriver Media and The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement, and young actor and activist Yara Shahidi. The schedule for the event includes panels, keynote addresses, and a performance by singer and activist, MILCK. The eight winners and runner-ups will be announced on May 26 during a virtual ceremony. If you wish to tune into the event, you can register on Cartier’s website.