Thursday, September 17, 2009

President Clinton Unveils Special Programming Focused on Investing in Girls and Women

photo credit: Clinton Global Initiative

President Bill Clinton announced today that this year’s Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting would offer special programming focused on investing in girls and women.

“Gender inequality is one of the most pressing issues that we face as a global community,” President Clinton said today. “I am proud that these issues are a central focus of the Clinton Global Initiative’s Fifth Annual Meeting, and I am confident that by sharing innovative ideas, we can devise solutions that will dramatically improve the lives of girls and women throughout the world.”

Across the globe, poverty and economic insecurity are exacerbated by the low social status of women and girls. Women make up two-thirds of all the illiterate people in the world and only 1 percent of the world’s landowners. Each year of schooling increases a woman’s income by 10 to 20 percent. Educating women has also been shown to increase agricultural yields, boost GNP, and improve health. Yet girls are still less likely than boys to receive even a basic education.

Zainab Salbi, Founder and CEO of Women for Women International

On Wednesday, September 23, 2009, from 9:00 to 10:30 am, CGI will host a plenary session that includes leaders from the public, private, and non-profit sector who are actively engaged in gender equality efforts. The session, entitled “Investing in Women and Girls,” will be moderated by Diane Sawyer, co-anchor of ABC’s Good Morning America. Panelists include Lloyd Blankfein, Chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs; Robert B. Zoellick, President, The World Bank Group; Zainab Salbi, Founder and CEO of Women for Women International ; Rex Tillerson CEO of ExxonMobil; and Melanne Verveer, Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, U.S. Department of State. The panel will focus on social, political, and economic changes that can be made to reverse the marginalization of women.

Melanne Verveer

The Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women initiative is a $100 million, five year campaign to foster economic growth by providing a business and management education to underserved women. The initiative is currently active in 16 countries and is operated through a network of more than 60 academic and non-profit partners.

In 2005, ExxonMobil launched a global program to help women in developing countries fulfill their economic potential and serve as drivers of economic and social change in their communities. To date, the program has reached women from 64 developing countries and focuses mainly on building the next generation of female business leaders and entrepreneurs and reducing barriers to women’s economic participation.

President Clinton also announced the formation of two Action Networks which will allow CGI members working on issues related to women and girls to discuss best practices, identify service gaps, and catalyze new collaborations and partnerships. The networks -- Empowering Women and Investing in Girls – will meet during the Annual Meeting.

On Tuesday, September 22, a dinner will be held to celebrate the outstanding individuals and organizations committed to addressing the challenges faced by girls and women around the globe. The event will highlight the ExxonMobil’s Women’s Initiative and the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women initiative, along with efforts by CARE, Camfed International, and Vital Voices. Participants include Mrs. Sarah Brown, Wife of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Meet the Press moderator David Gregory, Melanne Verveer, and Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Laureate and founder of the Grameen Bank.

Muhammad Yunus, Grameen Bank, photo credit: TIME Magazine

President Clinton’s efforts are part of a larger trend of increased attention toward women and girls. In March, President Obama announced the White House Council on Woman and Girls, which will ensure that agencies across the federal government take women’s issues into account. During its first year, the Council is tasked with ensuring that each federal agency is working to improve the economic status of women. The State Department’s Office of Global Women’s Issues is also actively working to improve the condition of women worldwide.

Clinton Global Initiative:


- You can see a recent op-ed written by Zainab Salbi, Founder and CEO, Women for Women International here at the New York Times

- Nicholas Kristof writes about Melanne Verveer here at the New York Times.

- More about Melanne Verveer: - "Secretary Clinton Focuses on Women's Rights" by Cindy Saine, VOA, September 8, 2009

- The White House Council on Women and Girls is here.

- More about The White House Council on Women and Girls: "Women's rights a priority for Obama panel" by Mimi Hall, USA TODAY, September 13, 2009

- 10 Questions for Muhammad Yunus, Time Magazine, September 28, 2009

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