Empowering Girls, Girls, Girls and Women

This was quite a week at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York City. Only the formidable Bill Clinton together with his unstoppable Foundation can marshal the forces of good to begin to make fundamental change for future generations of girls and women. This is the stuff of turning dreams into reality and shining the flashlight for those doing the heavy lifting to create change for the women of the world.

The transnational human rights organization Breakthrough opened with the launch of their global campaign to stop domestic violence by building on their 2006 commitment to CGI. They are building on the award-winning Bell Bajao campaign ('Ring the Bell' in Hindi) in India mobilizing an unimaginable grassroots effort to encourage men and boys to interrupt domestic violence in their neighborhoods. Talk about going local with a global program that literally has the potential to change the norms of don't ask, don't speak of the women that are abused. "Men and boys from around the globe and all walks of life will be invited to join the campaign, share their own transformative stories, learn how to become mentors and advocates, and thereby, become key players in the global effort to combat violence against women." This is what we are talking about -- commitments that have the potential to effect fundamental and long reaching change right into the heart of the problem.

Then there is the phenomenal effort by the Nike Foundation and their commitment to change for girls worldwide. They have embarked on a very long term effort, nurtured by the Clinton Foundation gang, to effect fundamental change to the lives of adolescent girls. In so doing, Nike strives to break the cycle of poverty, disease and despair. If we only begin early in the cycle, girls can go to school, have access to reproductive information, and financial stability. In speaking with their CEO, Maria Eitel, it was resoundingly clear that this commitment from Nike was here to stay for the long term. It has the potential to change the lives of 600 million adolescent girls! This is the "girls' effect" -- an impassioned and long reaching plea to begin making a dent at this most fundamental level. It's all about the girls, girls, girls and it must be so. At the Clinton meeting, the Nike Foundation premiered new viral and whimsical video at www.thegirlseffect.org. This magical piece breaks new ground with a new and massive social media campaign. Sign on and see them on Facebook and all other social media platforms.

And of course, Madame Secretary Hillary Clinton kicked off a global effort to replace cook stoves and stop the sickness spread to women and children. Again this is about fundamental change that goes into the center of the family to change generations. Volumes of sickness come from the off gases from cook stoves than can be imagined. Women are at the core once again. Perhaps in the near future one can imagine a safe space for families to gather free from disease to tell their stories and live their lives. It is a fight that has gone on for years that now has been given the attention, money and government muscle to effect change.

The story goes on and on. Melinda Gates demands global reproductive health, and she will see this through. Kandahar Treasures with micro lending breaking a cycle of poverty and violence by providing the women a visible means of support. If these women can sustain their families, there may be no need for them for their sons to be enlisted into the army of terrorism. There is the work of International Medical Corps that tirelessly goes into the darkest areas of conflict with medical supplies to train the women and leave behind medicines and supplies. There is the work of the Acumen Fund that for almost a decade is seeding self-reliance, entrepreneurship and hope through the women of the developing world. And there is the work of College Track that for more than a decade is preparing the under privileged through education to realize their dreams right here in America.

These dreams for empowerment are poignant and are grand. It is time for a world in which women are not considered property or chattel. It is time for a world in which violence toward girls and women is eradicated. It is a time for economic justice for all. It's been a long time coming.

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