On a Global Stage, Women Are a Disruptive Force for Good

"Our young women need better role models than Kim Kardashian." An African woman living in Uganda said this to me via SKYPE while I was sitting in a coffeehouse in California.
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When an 8-year-old German girl asked her father, "Daddy, do you think a man could ever be president of Germany?" she was simply asking a question based on the only world she had ever known, a country where Angela Merkel had always been president.

Another, unanswered question about Merkel is this: When she leaves that office at the end of her two terms, will her next step be UP, onto a global stage?

Who runs the world? Girls?

Over the last few years, the names and images of strong, "no nonsense" women keep rising to the top of news headlines including Hillary Clinton, IMF's Christine Lagarde, World Bank's Janet Yellen, Sheryl Sandberg, Melissa Mayer, Kandu's Geraldine Laybourne, Oprah Winfrey and now, even the animated princess heroine of Michael Giaimo's billion dollar smash hit, Frozen. Each represent dynamic, forward thinking leaders who are also key decision-makers in their fields.

In today's news centric world, their images command center stage. Their actions, gestures and public statements can even crowd out the sideshow antics of headline hungry celebrities. Miley Cyrus and Kim Kardashian come to mind.

"Our young women need better role models than Kim Kardashian."

An African woman living in Uganda said this to me via SKYPE while I was sitting in a coffeehouse in California. She was speaking for 200 women and single mothers who were now raising their children in the slums of that country's capital city, Kampala. Lacking education and economic opportunities, these young women were at high risk of human trafficking for sex, slavery and even the sale of their organs.

Rehmah Kasule, founder of CEDA-Uganda worried aloud about the images these women saw on television screens every day that crowded out the reality of being shunned by society. So our conversations shifted to images of women as role models of empowerment.

In my role as a United Nation's global virtual mentor for the UN-Habitat YouthFund, I now spend Monday mornings with Rehmah via SKYPE in Uganda. My assignments over the next 3-5 years will take me around the world. In a sense, this is technology transfer in action. It is a two-way transfer of ideas, images, and connections, as we both learn from each other.

Today, as with the past three Monday mornings, we spoke about the programs her organization is putting in place to lift these young women out of poverty and into micro-enterprises.

At the end of the hour-long call, Rehmah confided: "I feel like we've been friends for a very long time." I felt the same. To me, our friendship represents a new form of global engagement: conversations unfolding at a human pace, in a global village. Women empowering each other virtually, "face to face".

Alexia Parks is a science journalist, impact entrepreneur, and UN-Habitat YouthFund virtual mentor who uses the New Science of a women's brain to inspire and motivate all women, everywhere, as leaders. She is also author of 13 books including 10 Traits of Women of Power and Courage.

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