The final day of the Gender 360 Summit was an informative culmination of speakers and participants discussing a multitude of issues which affect women and girls. Amie Wells, Youth Sector Manager at Mercy Corps discussed the challenges of providing education to girls and boys in post conflict areas. She highlighted a story where a young boy with an un-conventional idea engaged various populations in order to create a hip hop class. She reminded the audience that men and boys are a crucial component of advancing gender equality. A youth advocate from Bosnia Herzegovina highlighted that gender equality is a 50-50 issue and we must engage men in order to achieve a more inclusive society. Many thought leaders have coined this period monumental for women and girls and highlighted the significant role that men and boys play in making it come to pass.
Although the whole summit was powerful, some of the most memorable experiences were spent tucked away in quiet spaces with fellow participants and speakers simply talking. We shared our stories and hopes for the future of gender equality. I met several women who were making their own unique mark on the world. This amazing group and I had an unbelievable conversation with Ms. Musimbi Kanyoro, President and CEO of Global Fund for Women. Ms.Kanyoro shared three factors that affect women and girls which included their body (physical, mental and spiritual well being), the hierarchy within power dynamics (sexuality, race, class, nationality) and the ability of individuals to use their voice to influence, shape and enact policies. She reiterated the importance of being able to put yourself in others shoes and view situations from varying perspectives. Among the women was Nithya Krishnamoorthy software engineer for Google and facilitator at Pudiyador. She told us that the ability to find your voice and having an outlet to use it is so important to the boys and girls in her program. Pudiyador is an afterschool program located in Chennia, India and provides academic opportunities for boys and girls living in urban slums. She was just one example of a participant with a passion for transformative change.
During a conversation with Donald Steinberg President and CEO of World Learning, I learned about different approaches to effectively integrate women politically, socially and economically into society. He spoke passionately about the fact that women should be respected and valued as equal participants within the political arena. Women comprise less than 25% of political decision making roles globally; thus, he believes it is necessary to adopt quotas to increase women’s presence. Steinberg stated that the United Nations plays a key role in addressing issues which affect women such as gender based violence. He emphasized the importance of changing norms, creating watch lists, enforcing sanctions and ensuring that regions have the local capacity to regulate policies. Finally, he stated various ways to empower women through economic independence and entrepreneurial opportunities. The overarching factor was education and its ability to decrease girls’ exposure to negative social environmental elements. Mr. Steinberg shared the importance of including a gender impact statement within all applications for donor assistance in order to ensure that gender based differences are adequately addressed in a substantial and meaningful manner.
His remarks and the remarks of countless other speakers truly embodied the quote that Steinberg shared during the Summit.
Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to impact the lot of others, or strides out against injustice he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope- Robert F. Kennedy
Let’s continue to make gender equality a priority in our communities, governments and work to improve our world.
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