A BLOG POST BY BARONESS GOUDIE The end of a year always inspires time for reflection. For women in the world, 2011 marked several events which inspire hope for the future.
At the global level, we witnessed amazing bravery of women as part of the Middle East’s pro-democracy uprisings; three women shared the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize; and in the wake of Burmese pro-democracy campaigner Aung San Suu Kyi’s release last year, this year we have seen her continue her quest for humanitarian aid and reform in Burma, among many highlights.
At the same time, human trafficking continues be a global issue that has tragic implications for individuals, communities and countries.
On this issue we can feel hope as well. In the USA, the Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report is working to motivate governments towards reform; and in California, a new law is about to go into effect which requires companies to catalogue how they are combatting trafficking.
Businesses are also making a difference with initiatives such as The Body Shop’s campaign to Stop the Sex Trafficking of Children and Young People, CNN’s Freedom Project, Lexis Nexis’ Human Trafficking Handbook, and in recent days, Google donated $11 million towards ending human trafficking.
On a personal level, I was involved in several events which brought together women from a broad range of experiences working together to elevate the issues of women and children.
In October, I was invited to speak at Fortune Magazine’s The Most Powerful Women Summit in California. Fortune Magazine itself is a showcase of accomplished women. Its editor-at-large Pattie Sellers, co-chaired the Summit with great panache, bringing together an impressive group and fostering conversations and networking among the women leaders in the corporate, private sector, philanthropy, academia and the arts. Nina Easton was great in conversation with many of the guests including Meg Whitman, President and CEO of Hewlett-Packard. One of the most entertaining sessions featured Arianna Huffington being interviewed by Chelsea Handler. I participated in a session titled ‘Shaking up the boardroom: can quotas work?’ moderated expertly by Fortune executive editor Stephenie Mehta; and featuring Trina Gordon, Chairman of Boyden World and Kristin Skogen Lund, from Telenor. A central theme of the Summit was the tumultuous time we are living in, including a wonderful panel on the Arab Spring with Ambassador Melanne Verveer and representatives from the Middle East.
Later that month, the Said Business School at Oxford, hosted a very innovative Summit brought together by the fast growing Womensphere organisation. The Summit focused on encouraging women to think out of the box and to break the glass-ceiling at every level.
Global Leadership Award winner Ambassador Melanne Verveer opened the Summit with an inspirational message reminding us that women make up 50% of the world’s economy and we would not do well without leveraging all that we have to offer.
Amongst the outstanding speakers was Ruby McGregor-Smith, CEO of MITIE plc who received a Leadership Award. Helena Morrissey, CEO of Newton Investment Management and founder of the 30% Club, encouraged women to enable themselves to be in a position to join plc boards. Aviva CMO Amanda MacKenzie spoke of the Lord Davies Report of Women on Boards and the issues faced by non-executive boards.
Looking ahead to 2012, I look forward to working on these issues and also continuing to push forward the agendas of women at the peace table, food security and the role of women in eradicating global poverty. Ultimately, the goal is to create a more equitable world for women and children. I hope you can join me.