Clinton Global Initiative-Day 2


Lordy I love Diane Sawyer—she is just so damn smart and so unpretentious. She lets you in on everything without making you feel stupid—no small feat at this event where we swim in statistics and stories of hardship (and eventual stories of victory and success)

This morning’s plenary session of the Clinton Global Initiative is “Investing in Girls and Women.” Bill Clinton looks better rested today as he sets the context: Every problem in the world today is exacerbated by gender inequality. Women perform 66% of the world’s work, they produce 50% of the world’s food supply (in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia it is 60%-80% of the food supplied by women), but they only earn 10% of the income and own only 1% of the world’s property. In Sub-Saharan Africa, 59% of HIV/AIDS cases are women, almost none of them contracting it through their own high-risk behaviors, but contracting it from non-monogamous partners as well as a huge number of women and girls who are sexually molested/raped. 75% of the Sub-Saharan youth HIV/AIDS patients are women and children—infected by sexual molestation.

New York mayor Michael Bloomberg introduces new commitments focused on women and girls, and points out that the private sector will have an enormous impact on the world because governments can’t or simply won’t.
One of the panelists quotes Nelson Mandela, “You educate a woman, you educate a family and you educate a continent.”
In too many communities, when times get tough, girls get taken out of school (if they were ever allowed in), and if there is not enough food, sons get fed at the family table while daughters go hungry.

How about this…every single minute, of every single day, a woman somewhere dies in childbirth.

90% of modern war casualties are civilians, and 75% of those are women and children. 80% of the world’s refugees are women and children.

The statistics stand out. The personal stories of success inspire. The new commitments to women and children get people energized. A panelist (Zainab Salbi, founder and CEO of Women for Women International) reminds us: Women’s and girls’ issues are not only foreign issues—1 out of 4 women in America is a victim of domestic violence. It is a global issue.

Women’s issues ARE climate change and food security and access to water…and men’s issues are female genital cutting and reproductive health and education for girls. Differentiation is defeat, and no longer acceptable.

Diane Sawyer closes, “I remember going to Afghanistan, where I’ve been many times, for the first time after the Taliban left. Women were just streaming toward me in the streets, saying “Where have you been? We’ve been waiting for you for years.”

Plenary session: Harnessing Innovation for Development.
The guests are all eating at the banquet tables set with wine and potted succulents. It’s OK though—the food they have provided for us in the dungeon is actually pretty good…if not as good as the Bento Boxes these folks have.

I love the fact that every time I walk out a door there is a young volunteer in either a natty blue scarf or a blue necktie (how we identify them) jumping to my side to answer questions and offer assistance. What I like a tad less, is how they have to escort us to the restroom…and wait. Seriously? Every damn reporter who has to pee needs an escort? Who waits? I’m so sorry that’s your volunteer gig.”Yeah Mom–it’s gonna be so cool. I’m volunteering behind the scenes at the Clinton Global Initiative meetings. What do I do? Well…ummmmm….I take bloggers to the bathroom. Yeah, I know. Yeah…I wait until they finish. No, they don’t all wash their hands. I know, right? You’re right. I should have stayed in classes at NYU this week. Damn.”

This session has Al Gore, who reiterates our worst fears about the climate crisis, but also has some words of encouragement. “We have all the tools we need to solve three or four climate crises—the good news is we only need to solve one. What has been missing is political will.” He goes on to comment that governments are stuck, but luckily the business and private sectors—you and I—are smarter.

I am struck at the similarities between Bill Clinton and Jerry Lewis during his annual Labor Day Telethon. Bill speaks at the top of every session throughout the days, all day, then hands it off to the panels. Instead of the timpani drumroll to usher in totals of dollars, Bill calls forth newly announced projects and commitments that will change the world. It is a real tectonic shift being born here—truly amazing to be present to it.

2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Lisa Jones on September 25, 2009 at 11:23 PM

    This is great what you are doing at this site and with your time Andrew!


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