Turning Ideas Into Action

By: Brittany Tatum, Women Deliver

How do we turn ideas into action? That has been the question on everyone’s mind during Clinton Global Initiative’s Week of Action. From 9 July to 17 July, change-makers from across sectors met to discuss new and proven solutions within a range of challenges. On 16 July gender equality was put on the table, and five experts that make it their mission to invest in girls and women met on a panel called “Inclusion to Equality: Amplifying the Contributions of Girls and Women”.

The conversation opened with Alexander Grashow, Co-Author of Adaptive Leadership asking the very important question of: “How do we advance the conversation for girls and women?” Each person on this panel came from a different silo of gender equality, so the ways in which they invest in girls and women is unique. Panelists shed new light on investing in gender equality, highlighting that there isn’t just one way to make the case for investing in girls and women. Former Director of Girls and Women Integration at the Clinton Foundation, and now Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of International Affairs, Penny Abeywardena, believes that it starts with the leadership. Making sure that girls and women are actively represented in leadership roles is a huge step in making sure that women feel empowered.

However, inclusion alone isn’t enough. It is critical that women are able to prosper economically, and Landesa President and CEO, Tim Hanstand, works to do just that. Landesa is a research and advocacy organization whose goal is to secure land rights for the world’s poorest people though improved policies, laws, and programs. Landesa works to improve women’s land rights because when women have secure access to land they are more capable to provide for themselves, and their families.

A large part of the discussion yesterday was on how empowering women economically is one of the best ways to advance their lives. Organization like, We Connect, and General Electric (GE) are doing just that. Elizabeth Vazquez, CEO of We Connect, made the point that, “one of the best ways to empower women is through entrepreneurship”. Through her work with We Connect, Vazquez has aided many women in designing and implementing business solutions, which in turn, ensure that women can prosper in their communities. Jamie S. Miller, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer of General Electric shared GE’s work to empower women through employment. GE has employed 500 females in Saudi Arabia through their first all-female business process services center. This initiative doesn’t come without its problems though; shifting societal norms in Saudi Arabia has not been easy, but companies are starting to support GE’s initiative.

One important question asked during the event was, “What can we do to keep the women’s rights and gender equality movement going again in some nations, because it feels like it has stopped?” In response to this, Women Deliver CEO, Katja Iversen, had this to say: “The movement has already started, and it starts with girls. It’s not women and girls, it’s girls and women because it will always start with the girl.”

Summing up the afternoon’s conversations was Landesa’s Tim Hastand who stated, “Empowering women empowers all – empowering women empowers children, family, men, and ultimately entire communities”. We couldn’t agree more. When you invest in girls and women, there is a positive ripple effect throughout society: communities are stronger, environments are more resilient, and overall – everybody wins. It is time to work even hard to advocate for the rights of girls and women and make sure that we are turning our ideas in action.

To learn more about the Clinton Global Initiative, click here.

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