06/16/2013 09:19 EDT | Updated 08/15/2013 05:12 EDT

Supporting Women Lawyers in Russia

The G(irls)20 brings together delegates -- one girl aged 18-20 from each G20 country, as well as from the European and African Union -- to look at the G20 leaders' agenda through the lens of the economic empowerment of girls and women. The theme of this year's summit is Opportunity Gained: Jobs, Growth and Investment and Opportunity Lost: The Eradication of Early Forced Marriage.

Norton Rose is one of the founding partners of the G(irls)20 Summit and is the only legal practice involved in the initiative. More than just a Summit, the G(irls)20 invests in the delegates, giving them access to workshops and mentors to help them develop the skills they need to make changes happen in their communities and their countries. With this aim firmly in mind, Norton Rose will run a leadership workshop specifically developed for the Summit to provide participants with effective leadership skills, which lie at the heart of economic and social empowerment.

Men and women are, relatively speaking, equally represented within the legal profession in Russia. Women who have succeeded in this traditionally "male" profession are seen as being equal to men in terms of their professionalism and talent, and importantly, in their self-esteem and self-awareness. Clearly leadership skills are crucial to economic and social empowerment of women, but for many women their professional development and opportunities to become leaders have often been curtailed as they undertake the main burden of familial responsibilities.

That said, in modern Russia there are now many more opportunities for woman than during Soviet times. Although the Russian revolution declared equal rights for men and women, in reality a tremendous gender gap remained in all the higher managerial positions. Although we still have a long way to go, in Russia young girls have many more opportunities today and I am happy to have been given the chance by the G(irls)20 to make my own contribution to incentivise the next generation of women and help cultivate a new generation of female leaders globally.

Diversity is one of the main values to which Norton Rose is committed. Nearly half of our partner promotions over the past three years have been women. I became a partner in 1997 and head of the Moscow office in 2000 and at that time I was the only female head of an international law firm in Moscow. Women in the Moscow office and throughout Norton Rose are treated equally and their voices are heard throughout the practice. Recently we adopted an initiative from our Paris office called "Women in Red" to provide additional professional training and networking opportunities to women and support them in their career pursuit. We have had strong support for this initiative in Moscow.

Women's ability to reach the most senior positions in the legal position, as a result of their talent, hard work, and commitment is now well recognised but more needs to be done. By engaging the thousands of organisations and companies around the world that see the valuable contribution of girls and women to our society and world economies, we are changing the world.

I am very inspired to become involved in the Summit, to speak at the Power Panel alongside business women like myself, so that we may encourage and support girls in pursuing not only their chosen career but also in using their skills to launch their own social profit ventures, or to support programs that already exist in their communities. Above all, the Summit highlights the need to see issues from different perspectives and the economic benefits that can be gained in business, in our communities, our countries and globally, by ensuring that women's voices are heard.

Valentina Gluhovskaya, Senior partner and Joint Head of the Moscow office of international legal practice Norton Rose Fulbright