Investing in the Next Generation – Girl Advocates and Women Mentors Reflect on Leadership

The Council on Women’s Leadership, in partnership with Plan International USA, featured girl advocates from Pakistan, Brazil, and the Philippines speaking about the importance of education as the key to female empowerment. From left, Luiza, from Brazil; Sana, from Pakistan; Jacklyn Dinneen, Associate Policy Director, Office of the First Lady; Anna Blue, Deputy Director, Girl Up; Lindsay, from the Philippines; and Richard Lui, MSNBC journalist and anchor.
The Council on Women’s Leadership, in partnership with Plan International USA, featured girl advocates from Pakistan, Brazil, and the Philippines speaking about the importance of education as the key to female empowerment. From left, Luiza, from Brazil; Sana, from Pakistan; Jacklyn Dinneen, Associate Policy Director, Office of the First Lady; Anna Blue, Deputy Director, Girl Up; Lindsay, from the Philippines; and Richard Lui, MSNBC journalist and anchor.

On October 1, 2015, Meridian’s Council on Women’s Leadership (CWL), in partnership with Plan International USA, hosted a breakfast discussion, “Investing in the Next Generation: Girl Advocates and Women Mentors Reflect on Leadership.”

The early morning session featured Plan International USA’s girls advocates from Brazil, Pakistan, and the Philippines as well as a group of high level U.S.-based participants including Jacklyn Dinneen, Associate Policy Director in the Office of the First Lady, and Anna Blue, Deputy Director of The United Nations’ Foundation’s Girl Up campaign. The stimulating discussion was moderated by Richard Lui, Journalist and Anchor for MSNBC, which allowed the girl advocates to share their personal stories and explore the mutual challenges they face as young leaders.

Ambassador Stuart Holliday, Meridian’s President and CEO, kicked off the program with welcome remarks, and the importance of the CWL in raising awareness of women’s leadership issues and building understanding of the political, economic, and societal factors impacting women around the world, before turning the podium to Tessie San Martin, President and CEO of Plan International USA. Ms. San Martin highlighted the role of Plan International USA’s global initiative “Because I am a Girl” in creating sustainable projects in developing countries to give girls access to the most basic of human rights: clean water, food, healthcare, education, financial security, and protection from violence and exploitation. The panel conversation centered on the importance of gender equality and empowering women and girls through education so they can realize their potential. Ms. Dinneen offered brief remarks about the mission and goals of the “Let Girls Learn” initiative and reported that 62 million girls are not in school worldwide shedding light to the situation girls are facing around the globe. In addition, Ms. Blue made a clarion call to parents and world leaders, and encouraged each of the girls to continue fighting to end child marriage as well as introducing an important statistic to the conversation---by 2020 some 142 million girls will be married by their 18th birthday---if current trends continue.

Before participating in Meridian’s CWL event, the girl ambassadors attended the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) and the Sustainable Development Goals Summit in New York to witness the approval of the newly proposed 17 goals to end extreme poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and fix climate change by 2030.

The discussion was followed by a Q&A session with the audience which ranged from members of the diplomatic community, Meridian’s Board of Trustees, to women rights advocates and community leaders, and foreign policy experts.

Michele Manatt, CWL Chair, shared closing remarks and thanked all of the speakers and participants, along with the attendees. She encouraged attendees to continue the conversation and get involved, through some of the organizations represented and referenced in the discussion:
The Global Goals, The Office of the First Lady's Let Girls Learn Initiative and it's partnership with the Peace Corps, the 62 Million Girls Initiative, The United Nations Girl Up Campaign, Plan International USA's Because I Am a Girl Campaign, and Meridian's own work Empowering Women and Girls.

Project summary

Investing in the Next Generation – Girl Advocates and Women Mentors Reflect on Leadership
Number of Attendees: 50
Regions: East Asia and Pacific, South and Central Asia, Western Hemisphere
Countries: Brazil, Pakistan, Philippines
Impact Areas: Empowering Women and Girls
Program Areas: Forums
Partners: NGOs