Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Clinton Global Initiative on women's rights

The Clinton Global Initiative is holding its fifth annual meeting this week, and former President Bill Clinton made a powerful point today:
  • "Women perform 66 percent of the world's work, and produce 50 percent of the food, yet earn only 10 percent of the income and own 1 percent of the property. Whether the issue is improving education in the developing world, or fighting global climate change, or addressing nearly any other challenge we face, empowering women is a critical part of the equation."
This statement was also made, by Zainab Salbi, founder and CEO of Women for Women International:
  • Girls get one cent, or less than one cent, of every dollar of development aid.
And the Guardian is reporting that the summit was to discuss child trafficking:
  • Only 1 in 10 countries have special police units to investigate sex trafficking of children and young people, the initiative found.
A news release about the initiative also points out the economic advantages to women's equality:
Reports show that when women and girls are empowered, entire regions see measurable results. This is especially true for economic empowerment - for example, a woman is likely to reinvest about 90 percent of her earnings into her family's well-being, compared with 35 percent for a man. Increases in access to education among girls accounted for a decline of 43 percent in the malnutrition rates between 1970 and 1995. Investing in women's health, especially reproductive health, not only saves the lives of half a million mothers, but also unleashes an estimated $15 billion in productivity each year.
Time will tell what results the Clinton Global Initiative will have in the women's rights arena, but here's what was announced today:
  • After meeting at CGI's 2008 Annual Meeting, Cherie Blair, founder of the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, and Hani Masri, founder of Tomorrow's Youth Organization, developed a new partnership. This year, this partnership is committing to increase women's participation in the Palestinian labor force by offering customized training opportunities and services that will increase participants' business, craft, and innovation skills.
  • Merck and Qiagen are launching a major new partnership to prevent cervical cancer in the poorest countries of the world. The program will facilitate the development of national comprehensive cervical cancer prevention and control programs that integrate two breakthrough technologies, HPV vaccines and HPV DNA tests. These programs will benefit at least 1.5 million girls and 1.5 million women.
  • The ING Foundation and Girls Incorporated commit to expanding the ING-Girls Inc. Investment Challenge, an innovative program giving girls hands-on investing experience while allowing them to keep their gains as college scholarships. Increasing the number of cities participating in the program, this commitment will have a direct impact on 100 young women's lives, while increasing financial literacy in the United States.
  • Sustainable Health Enterprise commits to provide access to affordable, eco-friendly sanitary pads, plus health and hygiene education, through sustainable, locally-led businesses, for one million girls and women in Africa by 2012. This commitment will increase school/work attendance, decrease pelvic infections, and drive economic growth.
  • Plan USA and its partners commit over the next three years to train 140 adolescent girls from Ghana in media production and journalism skills, empowering the girls to advocate against gender discrimination through diverse media. This commitment will increase awareness of the needs of adolescent girls in West Africa by reaching a radio and television audience of approximately 1 million.
  • The Freeplay Foundation commits to distribute its award-winning, self-powered Lifeline radios and new clean energy Lifelights to poor women and girls in Rwanda, directly benefiting 20,000 people. The Lifelights will enable women to extend their business hours and the radios will enable the women and girls to access health, literacy, and practical skills, as well as agricultural advice.
  • The Nike Foundation and its partners commit to utilize the Adolescent Girls' Global Health Agenda to advocate around the report's key recommendations to stimulate global attention and investment in adolescent girls' health. The Grameen Nurse Institute in Bangladesh will serve as a sustainable business model to demonstrate how girl-focused innovation improves outcomes for everyone.
  • Exxon Mobil commits to identify and deploy innovative technologies to advance economic opportunities for women in developing countries, in partnership with the Ashoka Changemaker Campus Initiative and the International Center for Research on Women. The project will improve the quality of life of women in developing countries and enable them to participate more fully in income-generating activities.
  • Goldman Sachs commits to working with partners including the Inter-American Development Bank to provide women entrepreneurs in Peru with quality business education and enhanced access to capital. Their efforts will offer more than 700 high-potential small business owners with the specialized training, access to capital, networking, and mentoring necessary to significantly expand their businesses.
  • Hathay Bunano and its partners commit over the next year to develop 22 handicraft production centers in Bangladesh which will provide training and subsequent employment for 2000 destitute women. Hathay Bunano will train the women in hand knitting and hand crochet, enabling them to make high quality, export-orientated children's toys to be sold worldwide.
  • Pro Mujer commits to provide poor women in Latin America with an integrated package of microfinance, health care, and training that will allow them to take an active role in changing their lives and creating a better future for their families. The organization's goal is to expand its reach to 350,000 women and impact the lives of more than 1.7 million children.
  • General Mills and CARE will launch "Join My Village" which will tap the power of online communities to connect women in the U.S. with families in Malawi, igniting a new level of consumer education and involvement. Ongoing reports from the field will enable consumers to participate in the lives of some of the poorest women and girls in Africa.
  • Women for Women International commits to improve the livelihoods of 103,000 female survivors of war over the next three years. This will be accomplished by a comprehensive program of rights education and vocational and business skills training. These will give the women access to the resources that allow them to participate in their countries' political and economic decision-making.
Thumbs up, all around. This is important.

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