WIE Will Make Change

04/12/2011 22:12 GMT | Updated 03/02/2012 10:12 GMT

Today, at around 1pm, 80 women from the worlds of politics, fashion, media and business will be sitting down for the ultimate ladies who lunch event. Scratch that, the ultimate 'ladies who never have time to lunch but are making an exception today' event.

The cause? The launch of the inaugural UK Women: Inspiration & Enterprise Symposium, which will be taking place on International Women's Day next March, in London.

WIE, as it's more commonly known in its New York home, is aimed at delivering social change and empowering a new generation of women leaders, with hosts in the US having included Arianna Huffington, Donna Karan and Sarah Brown.

Dee Poku, who co-founded the New York event with TV presenter June Sarpong, and I started talking in August about bringing the event to these shores, a natural move given that both Dee and June are British born, and the connection The Huffington Post already has with the event. At the time, December seemed like an awfully long time away and four months more than enough time to bring together our combined contacts. As is so often the case, the days whizzed past, but numerous transatlantic calls later, a flurry of invites, more than a few favours called in, and the day is now here.

The actual Symposium next year will take the form of panel discussions, inspirational masterclasses and a special awards ceremony, all of which we'll be brainstorming today at our launch lunch, co-hosted by Jo Malone, Noreena Hertz, Lily Cole, Shingai Shoniwa, Emma Freud, Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild, Baroness Scotland and Kathy Lette.

And while the chance to chat to such luminaries over lunch today should in itself be interesting, what I'm truly excited about is the launch of the WIE Prize - a new mentoring scheme for 15 promising young women, which will open for applications in January (we'll post full information for wannabe entrants in the new year.)

I could spend the rest of this blog reeling out the stats that prove women still aren't commanding the same wages as men, still aren't holding as many senior positions and in countries across the world still treated as second-class citizens, but you've heard them all before.

Instead, alongside WIE, we're going to do something about it.