Every Mother Counts’ Big CGI/UN Week
We juggled events at the Clinton Global Initiative and around the United Nations meetings this week, attending panel discussions and lectures, catching up with old friends, renewing acquaintances and finally putting faces to names and relationships we’ve been developing all year. This week was equal parts reunion, refresher course and educational intensive that served to reboot our commitment to expanding maternal health. It also showed us we’re on the right track and re-inspired us to keep moving forward. Pour yourself some coffee, this week was intense. Here’s a summary of some of the highlight events we attended:
Over at the Clinton Global Initiative:
The theme of this year's CGI was Designing for Impact. Cribbing from the program here, Designing for Impact explores the concept that, “ in a world of nearly seven billion people, the demand on natural and man-made resources is greater than ever before. Yet we also have more human capital than ever before. The power and inequity of 7 billion individuals, when collectively applied to our greatest challenges, can foster a healthier, more prosperous, and more sustainable planet.” Each session was designed to explore questions like these:
- How can we utilize our abundance of global capacity to invent better tools, build effective interventions, change behaviors, and work creatively and collaboratively to design a future worth pursuing?
- How are we designing our individual lives, our environments, and the global systems we employ in order to have impact on the challenges at hand?
- How can we better design our world to create more opportunity and more equality?
On Sunday night we attended an event that’s very close to our hearts - Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, hosted by Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women. Sheryl WuDunn, one of the authors of Half the Sky and co-creator of the upcoming Half the Sky documentary, spoke about the film’s debut (on PBS October 1st and 2nd at 9PM). Kabeh Sumbo from Liberia represented 10,000 Women's graduates (a five-year, $100 million global initiative to help grow local economies and bring about greater shared prosperity by providing 10,000 underserved women entrepreneurs with a business and management education, access to mentors and networks and links to capital), accompanied by President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who spoke about Kabeh and about how successful the 10,000 Women program has been in her country.
Melanne Verveer, Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues, U.S. Department of State also spoke about the impact 10,000 Women has made and about what her advisory role involved.
Then, after previewing the upcoming PBS documentary of Half the Sky, Tina Brown, Editor in Chief of Newsweek and the Daily Beast, moderated a panel discussion that included President Johnson Sirleaf, Ambassador Verveer, Nicholas Kristoff, and Leymah Gbowee (2011 Nobel Peace Prize Winner, and Founder and President of the Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa).
Among other CGI sessions we attended was one where Planned Parenthood’s President, Cecile Richards, announced the launch of two new global programs that will train young people in Africa and Latin America to provide basic contraceptive counseling and consistent contraceptive access to their friends, classmates and peers.
We watched Christy’s former Columbia classmate and CGI Board Member, Chelsea Clinton, moderate an inspiring panel entitled, The Case for Optimism in the 20th Century. The panel included Jack Andraka, a high school student and cancer researcher at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine; Gregory Lucier, Chairman and CEO, Life Technologies; Billy Parish, President of Mosaic; Luis A. Ubinas; President of the Ford Foundation and our friend Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Finance Minister of Nigeria. Each of the panelists defined progress in their specific areas of interest and made the case that persistence leads to progress.
Bill Clinton introduced President Barack Obama to a packed audience and the President spoke at length about the global crisis of human trafficking, driving home the point that the United States has a no tolerance policy.
We also attended a small group discussion called Uncovering the Multiplier Effect of Investing in Women with Afshan Khan, CEO for Women for Women International and Timothy Styles, Global Chair, International Development Assistance Services, KPMG, and Sarah Degnan Kambou, President, International Center for Research on Women. The panelists shared a Social Impact Report exploring Women for Women International’s impact in two countries, Rwanda and the DRC, (which were sponsored by the Bloomberg and NoVo Foundations). The idea was to get a sense of the secondary benefits of programs supporting women's economic and gender empowerment. They discussed behavior changes, changes in attitudes of males toward women, enhanced wellness for women and children and remarkable decreases in domestic and sexual violence.
Over on the UN side of town:
We attended the Girls Not Brides breakfast on Tuesday. Even though it was early, there was a lot of excitement and energy at this event and considering that next week marks International Day of the Girl, the timing was perfect. EMC is proud to be a member of the Girls not Brides coalition which is dedicated to ending child marriage. The breakfast marked the completion of the coalition’s successful first year and the beginning of its second. Championed by The Elders, this group is finding ways to raise awareness about how child marriage impacts not just a girl's future, but her community’s too.
Then we attended a session on Maternal Health Innovations sponsored by Merck for Mothers and PATH. A panel of experts talked about collaboration efforts in this arena and exhibited some prototypes of innovative technologies and devices designed to address maternal mortality. We at EMC are fond of focusing on how low-tech some of the most effective maternal health interventions are, but we also recognize there are great opportunities for innovations to enhance our reach and efficacy.
Tuesday evening we headed over to the Museum of Modern Art for the Every Woman, Every Child dinner. The pre-dinner reception in the garden felt like a family reunion where we got to reconnect with so many friends we've worked with in various capacities. This is where Christy hand delivered the International Museum of Women's petition with almost 16,000 signatures to the Assistant Secretary General Bob Orr and where we finally got to meet our partner, Clare Winterton from IMOW, in person! The rest of the event featured some pretty impressive speakers, including Ray Chambers, UN Special Envoy for Malaria, and a few personal heroes such as, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Dr. Jim Kim, Joy Phumaphi, and many more. One particularly memorable moment was when Shaquille O'Neil picked up Dr. Margaret Chan, the Director General of WHO.
On Wednesday- We attended a lunch for the African First Ladies Initiative with fellow Mothers’ Day Every Day Advisory committee member, Anita McBride, who was Chief of Staff for Laura Bush during her time as First Lady. The Rand African First Ladies Initiative partners with Africa's first ladies, is a unique effort to empower African First Ladies to use their offices and platforms effectively to impact change for millions of women and families. Some of the world’s most dynamic First Ladies were present. After hearing some personal anecdotes from Laura Bush, we heard from Ambassador Verveer and Dina Powell from Goldman Sachs' 10,000 Women initiative. We had the chance to say hello to the First Lady of Tanzania Mrs. Kikwete and the First Lady of Zambia- an obstetrician named Dr. Kaseba Sata. We’re particularly happy that an obstetrician is the First Lady in one of the countries where we're focusing our Saving Mothers, Giving Life efforts. We were thrilled to shake her hand and we look forward to working closely with her.
We closed out the week with one more set of events on Friday:
We flew into Boston Friday morning to participate in the 2012 Harvard School of Public Health’s Alumni Weekend activities, where Christy sits on the Dean’s Board of Advisors. We went straight from the airport to a luncheon with HSPH Faculty where we got to connect with some key players in the maternal and child health field as well as the human rights sector. We then joined Dr. Ana Langer, Professor of the Practice of Public Health and Coordinator of the Dean's Special Initiative in Women and Health, and Julio Frenk, Dean, Harvard School of Public Health; Former Minister of Health, Mexico; and Chair, The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, in a live webcast for the Harvard Forum’s “Saving Lives that Give Life: Preventing Maternal Deaths and Advancing Women’s Health.” Lisa Belkin, Senior Columnist for Life/Work/Family, The Huffington Post moderated the event. The webcast was broadcast live via the Huffington Post and can now be watched on the Forum’s website here:
After the Forum, we all went upstairs for a screening of my documentary film, “No Woman, No Cry” followed by a Q&A-style interview with Christy and Dr. Langer. After a reception and some closing remarks by Dean Frenk, we headed off to the airport and back home!
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