Women in Spotlight at Clinton Global Initiative

Article Date

30 September 2009

Article Author

By Gillian Gaynair

Media Contact

Anne McPherson

Vice President, Global Communications email [email protected]

The International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) shared the stage last week with former President Bill Clinton at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), which included an unprecedented focus on investing in women and girls.

CGI, dubbed by some as the “Oscars of philanthropy,” brings together nongovernmental organizations, private companies and global leaders to address the world’s most pressing problems.

President Clinton called the vital role of women an important addition to CGI’s agenda. “Whether the issue is improving the involvement of young women and girls in education to climate change and all political, economic and social issues in between…” he said, “empowering women is central to what the world has to do in the 21st century.”

In an opening plenary, a diverse panel from public, private and grassroots organizations discussed how programs that invested in women and girls were having an impact. ICRW submitted a question via YouTube asking how the world could use cutting-edge innovations to improve the lives of women in the developing world. The videoed question was the first one shown during the plenary.

CGI also announced new initiatives or “commitments to action” that aim to help the most vulnerable. Several commitments to invest in women and girls were revealed, including one involving ICRW, ExxonMobil and AshokaChangemakers that will use technology and innovation to help women in developing countries become more economically stable. As part of the commitment, ICRW will produce new research on areas where technological innovation can advance women’s economic productivity.

“This effort will address a critical barrier to women’s economic participation and have a significant impact on boosting women’s economic activity and productivity,” ICRW President Geeta Rao Gupta said.

Rao Gupta – who served as an informal adviser to CGI on its women’s track – also moderated a workshop focused on how best to create public-private partnerships that would open up opportunities for women and girls to have equal access to education, health care, jobs and the political arena. Nearly 100 people attended the session originally reserved for 50, including representatives from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Pakistan National Forum on Women’s Health and the U.S. Department of State.

Gillian Gaynair is ICRW’s writer/editor.