CGI U 2013: Global Change through a Gender Lens

April 12, 2013

From April 5 to 7, AAUW staff, member leaders, and affiliated students attended the 6th annual Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) in St. Louis, Missouri. More than 1,200 students and administrators from around the globe came together to propose solutions to the major challenges facing our world today.

AAUW’s new partnership with the Clinton Global Initiative expands our campus leadership and our access to global outreach and collaboration. At CGI U’s suggestion, we also seized the opportunity to share our expertise by enhancing the gender lens of CGI’s work. AAUW has been opening doors for women for more than a century and we know that through this partnership we will continue our amazing work in a fresh and exciting way. Our innovative, community-based projects — from Campus Action Projects to Community Action Grants and International Project Grants — have served women for decades, inspiring girls to pursue science and engineering careers, training teens in financial literacy, and teaching needed skills to refugee girls.

From the opening plenary, women and girls were at the forefront of the conference, as participants attended A Future for Girls and Women: Empowering the Next Generation. There were multiple working sessions on topics as diverse as Modern-day Slavery, Going Digital in Education, and Solving the Global Sanitation Crisis. AAUW presented challenges and opportunities for women in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields on the Reinventing STEM panel. Students and youth organizations gained skills, information, and tools to help them facilitate change in the world, and they made commitments to action to achieve this change.

As director of AAUW’s Fellowships, Grants, and International Programs department, I contributed to a session featuring attendees whose projects focus on women and girls. I explained how AAUW hopes to serve as a resource to these participants: through our strong network of graduates and young professionals and as a sounding board of seasoned professionals to assist students as they refine their commitments to more strategically integrate girls and women. We hope to be a source of value added to point students in the right direction, share our research, and provide access to resources that may benefit their ongoing work.

The closing discussion with former President Bill Clinton and Stephen Colbert reinforced the need for students to consider women and girls as they design and implement their commitments to action. Clinton summed it up in a powerful statement indicating that if he could do one thing to improve the world, “it would be to eliminate the gender disparity between men and women.” AAUW is poised to offer our expertise and experience to make this statement a reality in collaboration with CGIU’s student participants and leaders.

It’s clear that any plan for a better world needs to include women and girls in order to be truly sustainable. AAUW brings a gender lens to the table, giving weight to women’s needs, realities, and representation. This kind of gender analysis can help shape more effective programs and provide new insight across all fields and professional sectors, because our society must value both women and men in order to build the best world for all of us.

View the AAUW Storify for more images and tweets from the meeting.

By:   |   April 12, 2013