Women Decision-Makers in a Global Economy

Hillary Clinton, former U.S. Secretary of State, painted the global picture of the extensive progress that governments, partners, and organizations have made in working together for the “full and equal participation of women in political, civil, economic, social and cultural life” at the highly anticipated 2013 Clinton Global Initiative (CGI). She noted that as more women hold jobs and serve in public office around the world, their economic, political and social contributions have multiplied.

Pat Mitchell, president and CEO of the Paley Center for Media was the moderator for the plenary session on empowering women decision-makers in a global economy. The impressive panel of participants included notables such as Her Excellency, Sheikha Luhna Al Qasimi (Minister of International Cooperation and Development in the U.A.E.), Dr. Irwin Jacobs (founding chairman and emeritus CEO of Qualcomm), Arne Sorenson (President and CEO of Marriot International Inc.), and Halla Tormasdottir (founder and chair of Sisters Capital).

Clinton said, “The call for action for the global community, to work for laws, reforms and social changes necessary to ensure women and girls everywhere finally have the opportunity they deserve to live up to their God-given potentials and to contribute fully to the progress and prosperity of their societies.”

Clinton accentuated that the importance of “full and equal participation of women” as economic prosperity for all sectors is connected to the economic equality for women. She announced three new CGI commitments promoting the same spirit.

Firstly, 24 partners have committed to advance women in business and new markets. Their aim is to mobilize $1.5 billion over the next five years on “women-owned businesses to help create a sustainable pipeline of women around the world.” In addition, they will provide “15,000 women entrepreneurs with supplier readiness initiatives, including training and mentorship opportunities, so that they can have skills, tools and relationships necessary to achieve greater access to markets and capital.”

Secondly, focus on removing barriers with regards to women’s access to technology. Five partners have committed to invest $10 million for programs in India, Africa, and the U.S. to encourage parents and schools to teach technology subjects to women. The investment will also extend mentoring, small grants and professional opportunities for women targeted at “creating employee pipelines of 2,000 girls and women for the technology sector.” There are plans to expand this program to other countries over the next three years.

Thirdly, Intel is partnering with Care, World Vision, World Pulse, ChangeCorp Inc., and Telecenter.org to connect women in six sub-Saharan African countries. The objective is to bring 5 million African young women online by merging digital learning into existing gender and development programming, and to create an educational gaming online platform so that learning can continue anywhere, regardless of location or distance.

Clinton closed the women’s plenary session with updates of two existing CGI commitments. She reported the results of Digital Democracy’s efforts in deploying new technology to address the issue of domestic violence of women in Haiti.

In 2010, Digital Democracy provided tools and training to augment the technical skills of 120 low-income women in Haiti. In addition, a 24-hour emergency response hotline was set up and connected women survivors to necessary support. The hotline received more than 8,000 calls and connected more than 300 survivors to help. Survivors could tell their stories on a free anonymous digital platform, and more than 1,100-documented gender based violence has been mapped through this comprehensive system.

Clinton also recognized Landesa’s accomplishments in strengthening the land rights of poor rural girls in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia since 2010. Landesa’s initiative in India has established 299-girl groups with more than 7,000 girls. They plan to reach out to 35,000 girls this year. In Northern Uganda, Landesa controlled a participatory model where girls decide their goals for land rights and a plan to achieve them. Landesa intends to extend this pilot project to other communities, as well.

These inspiring results of CGI partnerships around the world serve as a catalyst in encouraging the “full and equal participation of women” and mobilizing them into a powerful force for change.

– Flora Khoo

Sources: Clinton Global Initiative – Wednesday Plenary Session Video 1, Clinton Global Initiative – Wednesday Plenary Session Video 2
Photo: LA Times