On June 14, 2016, I had the opportunity to attend the first ever United State of Women Summit hosted by the White House. I was excited to attend this monumental event but nothing could have prepared me for the imprint the summit would have on me and the other five thousand women in attendance.
The powerhouse packed day included remarks by President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Valerie Jarett, Senior Advisor to the President, Actresses Patricia Arquette and Kerry Washington as well as a top notch lineup of amazing speakers.
We were engaged in conversations with Warren Buffet, Chairman and CEO, Berkshire Hathaway and an intimate armchair conversation with First Lady Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey. Summit attendees were treated to a glimpse of the next generation of powerful women like 11 year old Mikaila Ulmer, Founder and CEO of Me & the Bees Lemonade, Marley Dias of #1000BlackGirlBooks, Dorothee Mulumba, High School student and Mpumi Nobiva, Graduate student and motivational speaker.
This summit was the Olympics of Women Empowerment! The plenary sessions covered topics such as violence against women, health and wellness, economic empowerment and entrepreneurship. And in true fashion of forward thinking, our host implemented solution focused seminars to help us discuss strategies we can use to take back to our community.
After taking a moment to digest and process the enormity of this historical event, I made a list of three specific action items I think we all can put into practice right now.
1. Don't Be Silent: Vice President Joe Biden delivered emotional and moving words discussing his commitment to ending violence against women and Meghan Yap, White House Champion of Change is working diligently to protect girls from violence. Now more than ever men and women have to be proactive and speak up about the violence against girls and women. We cannot move forward in silence allowing the atrocities against women and girls to continue. When we are silent about this issue we are in a sense consenting to the violence that is taking place. Make a commitment today to break the silence.
2. Claim your Civil Rights: Equal Pay Activist Lilly Ledbetter fights tirelessly for women to have equal pay like our male counterparts. She states "The fight for equal pay continues but we won't give up." As women we have to continuously stand up for legal, social and economic equality. Let us join in the efforts to advocate for equal pay creating a better tomorrow for the next generation.
3. Be Self Made: Entrepreneurship is a powerful force! Now more than ever is the time to create the job you want and live the life you were destined to live. We have valuable talents and gifts that can be beneficial to the market place. Nely Galan, Latina Media Mogul and Author of bestselling book Self Made encourages women to "Buy buildings, not shoes." She is a dynamic speaker that inspired women at the summit to take action for a better future.
The State of Women summit was a clear reminder that women are extraordinary and when we come together we are stronger, when we come together our voices create the best song of triumph, When we come together we are a powerful force with the capacity to make real change in our families, communities and the world.