Tuesday, March 4th was International Women’s Day. AJLI’s President-Elect Ellen Rose and I spent the day with hundreds of women from around the world at the United Nations. The day, “Turning Inspiration into Action,” was sponsored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation and the United Nations Office for Partnerships.
Just being at the UN is inspiring. We met in the General Assembly Hall and had lunch in the Delegates Dining Room. As I sat in the Assembly Hall I thought about the Ambassadors who come there to represent their countries, and I thought about the many conflicts in the world right now.
But our day was a day of collaboration. We heard from women whose names we know, like Chelsea Clinton, talking about the Clinton Foundation. We heard from women whose causes we know, like Shiza Shahid, Co-Founder and CEO of the Malala Fund. We heard from women we didn’t know but would certainly now like to, like Dr. Vishakha Desai, President Emeritus of the Asia Society. We heard from women I know personally, like Mary Ellen Iskenderian, President and CEO of Women’s World Banking.
We talked about what everyone is talking about these days. We talked about the importance of collaboration to create meaningful change. Chelsea Clinton reminded us that in order to collaborate we need to be very clear about what we (our organizations) bring to the table and what we can’t bring. We talked about “reverse engineering” our work…starting with the outcomes we want to achieve and then working backwards as we detail how to get there.
I furiously took notes, and here are a few snippets from some of the speakers and conversations that made me think of the various issue areas in which Junior Leagues have had tremendous impact.
“Violence against women is men’s violence against women” so men need to be part of solutions created.
“All children have the capacity to learn. Once you’ve given a child an education, you can never take it back”…which is why education is of the highest priority.
‘Women’s empowerment is a societal issue, not a women’s issue.”
“Women can be better global leaders because our style tends to be more relational and contextual.”
The day ended with a call to action, reminding everyone that International Women’s Day cannot be one day a year. For us in The Junior League, every day is a day that empowers us as women leaders. It makes me proud.