While recent efforts to acknowledge that children trafficked for sex are victims are commendable, they beg the question: what about grown women who are also sold for sex? While there may be some sympathy for a 13-year-old girl who is pimped on the streets by her 24-year-old “boyfriend,” we scoff at a woman who is barely 18 and women much older who are in the same predicament. Why are we so much more willing to view minors who are trafficked as victims, but not the minors who are trafficked for months and then years until they know no other life and feel they have no other option?
“When you empower a man, you empower an individual; when you empower a woman, you empower a nation.” HE Tebelelo Seretse, Ambassador of Botswana to the United States, spoke these words at a panel discussion, Africa Rising: Unconventional Pathways to Economic Empowerment, held recently at Meridian International Center. I could not agree more with Ambassador Seretse—empowering women yields the highest returns of all development investments. A nation’s competitiveness in the long term depends significantly on how it educates, trains, and equips half of its potential talent base, by providing them the same rights, responsibilities, and opportunities as the other half.
Many senior female diplomats will have shared a similar experience: being the first woman to take over an Embassy, High Commission or Consulate General after a long line of male predecessors. I found myself in this position when I took over as head of mission at the British Deputy High Commission in Mumbai in 2006 and likewise when I took over as British High Commissioner here in New Zealand in 2010. I was also different because of my Asian ancestry. People are curious to meet you and to see how you do. One early interlocutor here in New Zealand said to me that “…having a woman as High Commissioner wasn’t quite cricket”. I had something similar happen when I first arrived in Mumbai. You just have to rise above comments like that.
Imagine a woman civil society leader who spends time away from her family and uses her own funds to share her leadership skills with women in the far reaches of Burma. Imagine another woman who risks her life to attend workshops so that she can learn how she can bring peace and freedom to Syria. Imagine a member of parliament who locks arms with her colleagues blocking doorways until there is a vote on vital legislation that will impact the lives of countless women in Guatemala. Another woman brings her daughter to meetings so that daughter can see how empowered women, like her mother, are leading change in Georgia. Imagine a woman who states, “I will be president one day,” and makes you believe that it is unequivocally possible. These are Women’s Democracy Network members.
Peace talks have failed as the death toll in Syria climbs to well over 100,000 souls. U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power said, “In Syria we are witnessing the worst humanitarian crisis we have seen in a generation”. Yet the world continues to look on and do nothing. Analysts everywhere are quick to point out that President Obama is rightfully haunted by the ghost of Iraq and the legacy of George W. Bush. Be that as it may, history did not begin in 2003 and President Obama risks ignoring a legacy as dark and horrifying as the decade of squandered life and limb in Iraq. It is time to pay attention to Clinton’s ghosts.
Many U.S. administration officials, business representatives, state governments, and experts view the German dual system of vocational training, with its distinct notion of cooperation, as a viable model for success in closing the skills gap.
As it always has, the pull of an open, vibrant economy and the chance to chase a dream is drawing the best, the brightest, and the hardest workers from across the globe to America’s shores. Generations of enterprising and ambitious people have sought to build better lives in the United States—and by doing so, they have helped build and sustain one of the most robust and resilient economies the world has ever known. We need the innovation, the ideas, and the hard work of immigrants as much today as at any time in our history—and maybe even more.
When 200 leaders from the world’s financial, diplomatic, government, and corporate sectors convened at Meridian’s Global Leadership Summit on Friday, October 18, 2013, there was one consistent theme–that the world is changing its mind.
Years ago I met Ade, a farmer living just beyond the city of Ibadan, Nigeria. Ade was cultivating a small, sparsely planted plot with a baby on her back and three other visibly undernourished older children standing nearby. Her efforts to grow an improved soybean variety, which could have improved her children’s diet, had failed because she lacked the time to tend to the new crop and could not afford to hire labor.
As we bear witness to a steadfast “rise of the rest” within the global marketplace, Nigeria has proven to be not simply geopolitically ambitious, but also boasts a competitive advantage early in the contest.
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