Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Girl Effect

Christy Turlington Burns, Model, Director of No Woman No Cry, Mothers Day Every Day Advisor and WIE Creative Award Winner; Sarah Brown, White Ribbon Alliance Global Ambassador, wife of former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and WIE Co-Host; Natalia Allen, Founder, Design Futurist and WIE Generation Award; Vicky Ward, Contributing Editor, Vanity Fair and WIE Media Award;  Aparajita Gogoi, White Ribbon Alliance—India  National Coordinator, CEDPA—India Executive Director and WIE Humanitarian Award.
The Girl Effect
by Susan Sawyers

As the United Nations General Assembly convened last month to discuss the Millennium Development Goals, “girl world” was central to the high level discussions, with power players not just in Turtle Bay but all around the City. In sum, there were lots of ladies dressed to the nines walking and talking about their work in support of the Double X Chromosome gang. A round-up of some of the formidable personalities and their agendas are described below.

WIE: Women of Inspiration & Enterprise: Skylight West – West 36th Street @ Tenth Avenue

Sarah Brown, former first lady of the United Kingdom, Designer Donna Karan and Arianna Huffington hosted an inaugural conference for women on September 20. The trio invited women leaders in media, fashion, politics and business to share their accomplishments and ideally, inspire change.
Deepa Jha, White Ribbon Alliance—India; Alberta Steven, White Ribbon Alliance—Tanzania; Gloria Iribagiza, White Ribbon Alliance—Rwanda;  Sarah Brown; Hadhya Al-Zawm, White Ribbon Alliance—Yemen; Jayshree Satpute, White Ribbon Alliance—India.
Donna Karan, Queen Rania, Sarah Brown, and Arianna Huffington.
A number of other movers and shakers took the stage to inspire the audience of 400 to not pity our global sisters but do what we can to empower them, be it through financial contributions or writing about their plights or engaging communities to take care of their own. Among some of those present at WIE: Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan; Population Services International’s Global Ambassador and Board Member Ashley Judd; Aerin Lauder; the Paley Center’s Pat Mitchell; Founder of Ning, Gina Bianchini; Google’s Megan Smith; Filmmakers Nora Ephron, Nancy Meyers, Elizabeth Banks, Christy Turlington Burns and Christine Vachon.
Melanne Verveer, Ambassador-at-large for Global  Women's Issues, U.S. Department of State; Ashley Judd, Actress, Activist, Population Services International Board of Directors; Aparajita Gogoi, White Ribbon Alliance—India  National Coordinator and CEDPA—India Executive Director ; Nthabiseng Tshabalala, Soul Buddy and 1GOAL Ambassador in South Africa; Baroness Valerie Amos, UN Under-Secretary for  Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator; Maria Eitel, President, Nike Foundation; Sarah Brown.
Above: Diane von Furstenberg, CFDA President, Designer, Speaker on Dressing and Addressing panel and contributor to WIE Fashion Show to benefit White Ribbon Alliance. Top, right: Secretary Ann Veneman, Former UNICEF Executive Director, Former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Mothers Day Every Day Co-Chair and Speaker on Action/Reaction – Women in Advocacy panel. Above, right: Dana Perino, Former White House Press Secretary, Fox News Commentator, Mothers Day Every Day Advisor and Moderator of Action/Reaction – Women in Advocacy panel.
Christy Turlington Burns with Christine Vachon, Filmmaker/Producer on Telling Women’s Stories panel.
Cathie Black, Chairman, Hearst Magazines being interviewed by Vicky Ward.
Writer/Directors Nancy Meyers and Nora Ephron with Actress/Producer Elizabeth Banks on Telling Women’s Stories panel.
Brown opened the event by speaking, on behalf of the White Ribbon Alliance, about the more than 1000 women who die each day from pregnancy and childbirth complications. In her keynote speech, Melinda Gates gave a nod to Brown and the other women with whom she works: “We have to look at women as agents of change,” she said, “Please do not look at us as victims, look at us as the leaders we are, and acknowledge what they are doing.”

Other women took the stage to talk about overcoming their own challenges and being propelled to take action. Among them were Sheila C. Johnson, vice chairman of Monumental Sports & Entertainment and producer of "The Other City," a documentary on the HIV/AIDS crisis in the District of Columbia; Tamara Mellon, Jimmy Choo shoes co-founder; Lauren Bush, former first daughter and creator of FEED bags; and Glenda Bailey, editor-in-chief of Harpers Bazaar. “There’s nothing like losing everything to figure out what you want,” said Bailey, whose parents died when she was young but who had an idea for a fashion magazine. “My point to you is if you have that passion, if you have that love, working your way up is way overestimated.”
Melinda Gates, Co-Chair & Trustee, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and WIE Inspiration Award Winner.
Lauren Bush, Co-Founder & Creative Director of FEED Projects and Speaker on Dressing and Addressing panel. Tamara Mellon, Founder & Chief Creative Officer, Jimmy Choo and Speaker on Dressing and Addressing panel.
That may be, as one woman in the audience asked, “How do you believe in yourself, so you can give and keep on giving?” Diane von Furstenberg, designer and business woman, had an answser: “Fake it, ‘til you make it.”

It didn’t seem that anyone on the podium was faking anything. They were committed, hard working individuals who demonstrated leadership and the ability to work well with others. Which was precisely the directive from Nike Foundation CEO and President Maria Eitel: Collaboration is key.
Sheila C. Johnson, CEO, Salamander Hospitality and Speaker on Dressing and Addressing panel. Georgia Arnold, Sr. VP, Social Responsibility, MTV Networks International, Staying Alive Foundation Executive Director and Speaker on Action/Reaction – Women in Advocacy panel.
Lauren Bush, Co-Founder & Creative Director of FEED Projects; Glenda Bailey, Editor-in-Chief, Harper’s Bazaar; Donna Karan, Designer and WIE Co-Host on Dressing and Addressing panel.
Clinton Global Initiative: Sheraton New York Hotel and Towers - Midtown West

The plenary session on September 21st, "Empowering Girls and Women," began with the world premiere of the Nike Foundation video "The Girl Effect: The Clock is Ticking." The point of the powerful piece is that time is running out for women and girls all over the world. “When a girl turns 12 and lives in poverty,” explains the video, “her future is out of her control. 50 million 12 year old girls live in poverty.”

The big news came when U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced the formation of the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves because exposure to smoke from traditional stoves and open fires – the primary means of cooking and heating for 3 billion people in developing countries – causes almost 2 million deaths annually and contributes to climate change due to greenhouse gas emissions. The challenge and the solution are outlined here.

Nancy Lubin, CEO of DoSomething.org and Speaker on Creative Campaigning panel.
Dr. Helene D. Gayle, President  & CEO of CARE USA, Co-Founder of Mothers Day Every Day and Speaker on Action/Reaction – Women in Advocacy panel.
UN Foundation Digital Media Lounge: 92Y – Carnegie Hill

Nancy Lublin, CEO of dosomething.org, wants to create a culture of volunteerism among teens. Speaking on a panel at the 92Y on Sept 22, Lublin was joined by Layne Gray, founder of Vivanista, a social network for women bridging impact and fundraising; Kimberly Perry, Director of the UN Foundation Girl Up campaign; and Nancy Zhang, international trustee of Key Club, a service program for high school students; and Zainab Salbi, Founder & CEO, Women for Women International and whose father was Sadaam Hussein’s pilot.

The panel shared ideas on how to engage girls in the United States and to inspire them to raise money and take action on behalf of girls in developing countries. We know that “more than 80% of girls volunteer,” said GirlUp’s Perry, and “girls talk, they don’t do it alone.”

Click here to see how GirlUp proposes ways for girls to get involved and elevate the status of girls and women everywhere.

Central Park asphalt, just east of the Sheep Meadow

A High-Heel-a-thon Wednesday morning in Central Park, upon first glance was a bit less, um, serious. The event, produced by “LIVE! with Regis and Kelly” to benefit the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health in support of The Heart Truth® campaign for women’s heart health education. Spandex and high heels were the must-haves of the moment. This is New York so we’ve got to look good while we do good.

United Nations meeting of the General Assembly – Turtle Bay

With only five years to go until the 2015 deadline to achieve the United Nation’s Millennium Development goals, how close are we?

Earlier this month, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon named former Chilean president Michelle Bachelet to head United Nations Women (UN Women), a newly created entity to oversee all of the world body’s program aimed at promoting women’s rights and full participation in global affairs. The new body, which will receive $40 billion in funding, merges four UN agencies and offices. UN Women might be a step closer toward achieving these goals, but based on what I heard at other sessions around town, we’ve got a long way to go.

Meanwhile, a lot of women are working hard to make the world a better place for everyone. Girl or boy, woman or man, click here to see what you can do to get involved.
 
Photographs by Gretel Truong, Haddadd Media & Katy Woods, White Ribbon Alliance.


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