When girls and women are healthy and educated, families and communities prosper. When women participate in the economy, poverty decreases and gross domestic product grows. Both the public and private sectors are strengthened by women’s leadership, which brings diverse perspectives to the table and makes institutions more representative and sustainable.
As we celebrate Women’s Equality Day 2015, and the all-important vote that was granted to women in the United States on this day in 1920, I revel in this country’s progress in creating gender equality. Yet I also want to underscore the need for more to be done not just in the U.S., but around the world. Revealing data from the No Ceilings Full Participation Report tells us that there is no country in the world in which women and men have equal status. The report highlights how preventable problems during pregnancy and child birth still claim the lives of over 800 women each day. A new data visualization released on NoCeilings.org shows that if we continue on our current path, millions of girls will never finish primary school.
I am proud to say that in the past decade, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) has become a key player and unique convener of experts and advocates in the gender equality space. Since the inception of CGI, members have made more than 700 Commitments to Action with a focus on girls and women, globally and domestically. Through these commitments, girls and women around the world have greater access to education and healthcare; opportunities to make their voices heard without the threat of violence; and increased access to the formal economy.
Community health workers visit two new mothers at home. photo credit: lwala community alliance.
One example is the Lwala Community Alliance (LCA)’s “Thrive Thru 5” commitment, which focuses on improving maternal and child health in Kenya. LCA works in the Migori County near Lake Victoria in Kenya, an area where the under-five mortality rate is 150 out of 1,000—which is about 20 times the same rate in the United States. This commitment is an all-out effort to reduce under-five mortality by 50 percent in the Lwala Community Hospital by the end of 2016.
To accomplish this, LCA has trained 87 community health workers to guide and educate mothers with children under the age of five—providing monthly visits to the 2,223 households enrolled. In addition, the Lwala Community Hospital has implemented an electronic medical record system, and provided prenatal and pediatric services to 7,300 clients in 2014.
An infant gets immunized at the lwala community hospital. photo credit: lwala community alliance.
In the U.S., Treehouse Island, Inc. is empowering women to enter the technology industry through their commitment “Code-to-Work Training for High-Paying Tech Jobs”. Collaborating with Workforce Investment Boards and community-based organizations, Treehouse aims to put 150,000 people back to work in high-paying tech jobs across America. By partnering with Girls Inc., ChickTech, App Camp for Girls, and the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT), among others, Treehouse engages girls in building websites, learning code, and designing apps. They are building a network of mentors, role models, and employers to encourage girls to pursue rewarding tech careers for economic equity.
Although there are many CGI commitments working to revolutionize the gender equality space and creating positive change, there is more work to be done. Gender equality is at the nexus of every social, economic, and environmental problem we face. Girls and women must be included in the solution-making process if we are to see significant progress in addressing the global challenges of our future.
Established in 2005 by President Bill Clinton, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), an initiative of the Clinton Foundation, convenes global leaders to create and implement innovative solutions to the world's most pressing challenges. CGI Annual Meetings bring members together from across the world to translate good ideas into real results on the ground. The 2015 Annual Meeting will take place September 26-29, 2015 in New York City and will addres a range of issues, including global gender equality. Learn more.