New Women of Monaco Club unveiled on International Women’s Day

The Women of Monaco Club has been launched during a Women of Monaco Lunch at the Yacht Club of Monaco. Founder Sandrine Knoell explains why she’s created this new all-female initiative.

It was during the fifth edition of the Women of Monaco Lunch, on 8th March at the Yacht Club de Monaco, that organiser and CEO of Five Star Events Sandrine Knoell chose to launch her new concept.

More than 50 women of the Principality gathered on International Women’s Day for an event that celebrated female empowerment, creativity, professional mothers, networking and friendship.

“There are three purposes to the Women of Monaco Lunch,” Sandrina Knoell told Monaco Life. “To get together for a good cause and support the Princess Grace Foundation, to gather international women of Monaco who are linked in some way but without regards to any ethnic, linguistic, cultural economic or political differences, and to give merit through the Women of Monaco Awards.”

“Monaco is a strong supporter of women”

Raphaëlle Svara, one of the founding partners of the CMS Monaco law firm and who specialises in family law, opened the lunch with an inspiring speech about working mothers.

“Women’s Day is not a name in itself, but a time for society to raise up and focus on the differences between the lives of women and the lives of men,” said Svara. “Men are not asked to choose between their professional and personal lives, but there are many women who are asked to choose between their personal lives and a career. I am lucky enough to do both – work and change my daughters’ nappies – and I believe that taking care of my child and raising her is way more complicated than being a lawyer.”

It is a culture of understanding that runs right through the entire international law firm.

“In our firm we are four women partners, all mothers, and two male partners. We have a team of 20 people, and only three are men. It’s not that we don’t want to hire them, I think we scare them,” she said.

Raphaëlle Svara explained that the Monegasque justice system is now very supportive of women and children, saying, “The majority of judges here in Monaco are women, mothers, professionals, who have the protection of women at heart. We see this in matters particularly related to violence. The repression against men guilty of violence is very severe today and allows women and children – the victims – to feel protected and able to leave the family home.”


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An art and fashion show

The Women of Monaco Lunch featured an exhibition by Soul Energy Artist Iryna Parepskaya, with works that showcase her unique “stardust blowing” technique.

Guests were also treated to a fashion show by young local stylist Isabel Fargnoli, who presented pieces from her beachwear range. Her designs are exclusively made with sustainable and natural fibers, designed in Monaco and ethically hand crafted in Italy.

Recognising the power of women

Another highlight of the event was the Women of Monaco Awards. Sandrine Knoell, a resident of Monaco for 25 years and graduate of the International University of Monaco, handed the Art and Culture Award to Safia El Malqui, the Image Award to Elisabetta Gregoraci, the Entrepreneur Award to Sabrina Monteleone-Oeino, the Green Award to Ivana Ilic-Labia, the Digital Award to Dame Marie Diamond, and the Charity Award to Francien Giraudi, the founder of the Monegasque association Les Enfants de Frankie. The association, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, supports sick, disabled or disadvantaged children in Monaco and the entire Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region by bringing them comfort and cheerfulness.

“I had a daughter who was born with a kidney malformation and it took me to America for 15 years, on and off, in and out of hospital,” Francien Giraudi told Monaco Life. “We had a very good surgeon who saved her life, but I saw what they were doing in America, what the volunteers in hospital did for the kids to make them feel better. So, I created an association in Monaco and went back to hospital, but not with my daughter, dressed up as a clown.”

Les Enfants de Frankie will celebrate its silver jubilee, under the high patronage of Prince Albert II of Monaco, in November at the Opera Garnier.

Launching the Women of Monaco Club

The lunch was also an opportunity for Sandrina Knoell to announce the launch of the Women of Monaco Club, which is open to any woman who has a connection to Monaco, be it work, children or residency.

“I think it is important for the women of Monaco not to feel alone,” said Knoell. “Many have been here for only a few years, and often don’t speak French, so this is a way for them to connect with other women, to make friends, to enjoy social events together, and to get support if they have problems.”

The club will host “cocktail” events at various locations throughout the Principality, organise shopping and cultural trips outside of Monaco, and provide information and access to support networks.

Women who are interested in joining the club can call +377

Click on the gallery below to see more images from the Women of Monaco Lunch…


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Photo above: Safia El Malqui (Winner of the Art & Culture Award), Francien Giraudi (Winner of the Charity Award), Sophia Vaharis-Tsouvelekakis, Alexandra Ruiz, Sabrina Monteleone-Oeino (Winner of the Entrepreneur Award), Tsouvelekakis Elya, Sandrine Knoell (Founder of the event), Daniela Spanier and Ivana Ilic-Labia (Winner of the Green Award). Source Five Star Events.