Among the reasons why I enjoy being an active member at the Professional Women’s Association is the opportunity to meet fellow high level professional women that are successful living stories of passion, determination, and inspiration. One of these amazing women at PWA is Monica Carcò, a truly successful professional woman; yet humble, optimistic, ego-free, open-minded person. Monica has enriched the PWA member’s community with her extensive knowledge and experience in the field of multilateral relations, human rights advocacy and women’s empowerment commitment.
Monica Carcò grew up in Italy, appreciating the northern and the southern regions of the country: She lived her early years until the end of primary school in Milan with her family, and afterwards they moved to the sunny Sicily where she continued her studies. As the youngest of three daughters, she probably enjoyed a little bit more freedom from the well-known predominantly patriarchal environment of the sunny island, but surely it was her free spirit to encourage her desire of traveling and discovering new horizons. Following her father’s suggestion, Monica has studied International Relations in Catania, and after obtaining her degree, she also achieved a post-graduate degree in Diplomatic Studies at the Università degli Studi di Firenze.
True to her curious and travel-loving nature, Monica not only followed her father’s advice on pursuing a diplomatic career collaborating in the bilateral relations field, as Private Sector Development Expert at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but she went further by working in 3 continents with different live conditions, cultures and languages, while contributing to the multilateral relations field at UN organizations in Middle East, Africa and Asia. “Working in a multicultural environment has been the result of my academic background, interests in human rights and interpersonal skills”, she admits.
For over 30 years, Monica has worked as International Civil Servant for UNIDO, UNDP, WFP and the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs covering representation and managerial positions. Her first assignment duty destination while working for the UNDP was Tanzania, a deep experience that gave Monica confirmation that she has chosen the right professional path. Back in Europe, she continued working at the United Nations system but in other entities, like the WFP and UNIDO ITPO, where she kept demonstrating to be keen on improving the lives and living conditions of those around her, and to be passionate for travel, multiculturalism and diversity.
Dealing with people from all sorts of cultural backgrounds has taught her the importance of interpersonal skills such as collaboration, perseverance, respect and optimistic attitude. She passionately believes in “giving back” and making a difference in other people’s lives, therefore Monica is always ready to empower people, especially women, helping them find their own talents and capabilities, and sharing her knowledge, skills and business network to help them improve and grow. Actually, Monica confesses that “women’s economic empowerment through entrepreneurship development has been at the core of my work and efforts to boost a more inclusive and sustainable socio-economic development”. Therefore, during her successful long-lasting career at the UN system, Monica’s efforts were concentrated also at the organization of international women’s conferences to uplift investment and advocate for good practices to support women’s entrepreneurship development.
Passion with the needs of others, enhancing individual’s talents and skills, and positively impacting people’s lives are core values at Monica’s heart. Therefore from 2016, she is part of the Responsible Leaders Team of the BMW Herbert Quandt Foundation, promoting responsible leadership and inspiring leaders worldwide to work towards a peaceful, just and sustainable future, under the mission to advance towards the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations 2030 Agenda.
Undoubtedly, the United Nations system has been the working environment where Monica has expressed at best her creativity at work, pursuing excellence and innovation. Oftentimes, Monica developed projects from zero, tireless working to design programs and activities aiming at identifying bottlenecks and potential solutions to improve the ecosystem to facilitate access to information, training and business opportunities for women. In her words: “the UN system offered me opportunities, in which I developed and implemented large scale programs, mobilized the required funding, designed innovative solutions to help improve lives of those in need, specifically women, and established and managed successful multicultural teamwork”.
Monica strongly believes that women should always support each other whenever they have the opportunity, first of all because it is easy to understand other women’s overwhelming paths filled with more adversities compared to those of men, and then because it is proven, she explains, that when women start an entrepreneurship initiative, they tend to collaborate with fellow women and offer more employment opportunities to other women too.
Regarding valuable sources of support, Monica has deep knowledge of the beneficial opportunities, in terms of training, mentoring, and collaboration, that a professional women’s network could offer. Hence, she has searched for a women’s network in Rome, with the “international flavor” that characterize her own life, so the natural choice for her was PWA, and here I recall that I made the same validation and the same choice at the time I joined PWA.
Somebody else could feel satisfied by such a prolific, dynamic and successful international career, but not Monica Carcò. She keeps searching for professional and personal challenges with courage, determination and enthusiasm. This is the reason why, she accepted to support the Management Team of Women 20, Italian Delegation, working to further progress women’s empowerment across the three cross-cutting areas of the G20 agenda for 2021: people, planet and prosperity.
Monica is bringing to the Italian Women 20 Team her extensive expertise on promoting women’s economic empowerment through entrepreneurship development, establishment of partnerships with Governments, UN agencies and businesses, as well as her tenacity, skills and ambition to support women overcoming the challenges imposed by the current pandemic crisis. At the same time, Monica keeps herself engaged in learning new strategic tools to apply evidence-based and data-based analysis to her contributions.
Closing our meeting, Monica’s message for the PWA’s fellow professional women is to be strong and never give up, because women should keep requesting equal opportunities, equal pay, and equal respectful treatment, while keeping in mind that women’s leadership style could not be the same self-centered style of men, but a better community-centered one. Only this way, change is possible.
Meeting Monica and discovering her fascinating story, actually, reminds me that the main reason that moved me to join PWA was the possibility not only to meet and get inspired by formidable women like Monica Carcò, but mainly for the chance to become friends with these amazing role-model women.