Powerful global women opened day one of the Social Good Summit and one woman, Alicia Keys, brought down the house at the day’s conclusion. Women’s empowerment and leadership was top of the agenda. United Nations Foundation President and CEO Kathy Calvin; United Nations Development Programme Administrator and former Prime Minister of New Zealand Helen Clark; Mozambican politician, humanitarian and widow of former South Africa president Nelson Mandela and former Mozambican president Samora Machel, Graça Machel; and moderator and ABC News journalist and Nightline co-anchor Juju Chang led the summit in a passionate conversation about the future of women’s equality.
Kathy Calvin challenged us to think about tomorrow’s leaders today. Who is the 15 year old girl you know who will be the leader of 2030? Ms. Calvin suggested we need to start realizing she is already a leader today. Our role is to get her what she needs to stretch, progress and reach her potential. Later in the day, the head of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka gave a chilling reminder that the world still has much work to do for women everywhere.
Collectively we have talked for some time about empowering women and girls, and empowering youth. Women and girls are now widely understood as being the key to solving so many of the world’s big problems. One quarter of the world’s population under 15 and more than a half under age 30. Youth and women leaders are losing the description and simply becoming recognized as leaders.
Those realizations came full circle when Alicia Keys shared her own journey to activism. As she prepares to give birth, Ms. Keys has been reflecting on the issues that matter to her and seeking her role in solving those issues. She announced at the Social Good Summit a one million dollar commitment to ten organizations through her We Are Here movement. Her commitment was immediately matched by two entrepreneurs from China and the African continent.
A moment with a 12 year old fan backstage brought the day’s themes together. “Alicia, you’re my favorite activist,” she said. Without missing a beat, Ms. Keys replied, “Girl, soon you’re going to be mine.”
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Images: Top UN Foundation | Stuart Ramson; Graphic designed by by Meghan Lazier | School of Visual Arts; Alicia Keys backstage Eric Thayer | UN Foundation #instacorps