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CGI sharpens focus on women

By Susan Carey Dempsey on September 23, 2009No Comment

Kicking off the second day of CGI, President Clinton introduced a session on "Investing in Girls and Women," stating that "empowering women is central to what the world has to do in the 21st century."

He cited studies showing that investing in women's reproductive health can mean half a million lives saved and unleash $15 billion in productivity each year. Prior to a panel discussion moderated by Diane Sawyer, Clinton brought several philanthropists and heads of foundations to the stage to make commitments centered around women and girls. Michael Bloomberg, Mayor of the City of New York, appeared in his role as head of his own foundation. He cited the importance in philanthropy to be willing to run risks, try new ideas. "Innovation is the key to making a difference," he said. "The private sector is making a difference in ways the government can't or won't."

Together with Jennifer and Peter Buffett of the NoVo Foundation, Bloomberg announced the expansion of support to Women for Women, in countries ravaged by war. The commitment will help over 100,000 women receive rights education and vocational and business training, to enable them to participate in their countries' political and economic decision making.

TV Anchorwoman Diane Sawyer, introducing a panel discussion on the theme, referred to this time as a moment when "the giant river of what is right meets the river of what is needed, and we can all feel that has begun."

Lloyd Blankfein, CEO and Chairman of Goldman Sachs, discussed the firm's 10,000 Women Initiative: "The best place to invest is women," he said. "Research shows that when you invest in women, you invest in families."

"Every single minute, a woman is dying in childbirth around the globe, " Sawyer said in introducing Edna Adan, Director and Founder of a Maternity Hospital that bears her name in Somalia. Significant progress is being made, though, in addressing women's health issues, panelists agreed. Even the difficult problem of ending the practice of genital cutting, which faces resistance from older women in many communities, is responding  to efforts to produce change, said Melanne Verveer, Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues in the US State Department.

A total of 13 new commitments to further initiatives for women and girls were announced today, covering a broad range of issues from cervical cancer vaccines to microfinance. For more information, visit, www.clintonglobalinitiative.org.  

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