In these last few weeks, while a presidential candidate in one of the most powerful countries in the world and the actual president of one of Africa’s largest countries have been busy attacking the basic decency of our societies and the fundamental dignity of women; women themselves have been going about their business as usual. That of helping earth stay on its axis.
Women were busy farming, bringing up children, fighting terrorism, caring for the old, leading innovation in science and technology, feeding families, running companies, combatting violence in all of its vile forms and much more; even as some of their so called leaders were denigrating their very beings.
In this same period, I had the extraordinary good fortune to spend two weeks in Chicago and in San Francisco with hundreds of women who are not only doing the work above, but who are finding cutting edge solutions, women who run companies that generate hundreds of millions in revenue and employ the poorest of the poor, women who are standing up to dictators and rogue governments, women who raid brothels to rescue trafficked girls, women who have built micro-financing institutions which started with one cow and today serve 27,000 other women. I could go on and on. I spent the last two weeks sharing, laughing and learning from these women from over 40 countries across our globe. Women who lead.
After attending the International Women’s Forum 2016 World Leadership Conference and the Vital Voices VV100 conference these last two weeks, I have come to the conclusion that our world needs these women in global decision-making circles. We need them to make and influence economic and social policies in the countries where they live. We need them to lead the teams in countries that are still defining their democracies. We need them to build and implemented the holistic, integrated strategies that can actually eradicate extremism and terrorism at the root. We need them to build the health and education systems that will truly reach the majority of citizens on our planet. We need them to build the economies where the 99% are those whose basic needs are adequately met. We need these women leading countries and regions, leading the United Nations and the World Bank, leading the Fortune 100 and emerging markets. We need them joining those who lead our world.
Not because they are women. Though we are fully within our rights to demand that leadership reflect the composition of citizenship, that is not why we need these women. We need them because:
· They are the PhDs who have left the walls of the university to go down to the field and understand both the root causes and the possible solutions to the complex problems we face.
· They are the women who were refused schooling, yet taught themselves to read; today run successful social and economic programs at grassroots level and can write the policy to take these solutions to macro level.
· They are the women who have been able to transform the very personal violence and discrimination they’ve experienced into power that enables millions of other to have access to education, healthcare, finance, security, etc.
· They are the women who have taken the degrees from Harvard and LSE to invent companies that transform work in informal companies and markets into decent work; they create wealth for those who are on the margins of the margin.
· They are the women who have the courage to stand in front of water hoses and guns, face the bullies and terrorists that run gangs and nations; they stand strong and demand that basic rights be guaranteed and basic services be delivered.
· They are the women who dream and act; whose daily credo is: the time is now and the person is me.
In a world where we must find and transform the root causes of what converts our children into killers, where we must discover the ways to heal the extreme pain of millions of refugees, where we must create the schools for the over 100 million children who do not have them today, where we must bring the extreme north to dialogue with the extreme south, where our daily living must be revolutionized in order to ensure the existence of our planet, in this world of ours today, we need these women to lead.
Not because they are women, but because they have demonstrated that they have the force of dreams, the courage of principles, the capacity to find solutions and the love that can transform power into a force of good for us all. We need these women in leadership because they can lead.