TYO at Clinton Global Initiative 2009

TYO's second experience at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York was even more productive than the first! Not only did we have huge progress to report on our first commitment, we announced an exciting new commitment in cooperation with the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women. We are eager to share our experience with you - for a more complete overview of panels and working sessions, check out our Twitter feed from last week! In the meantime, here are some highlights. President Obama's made for a great opening, but the best part of the conference for us was the focus on Girls and Women, which began with dinner that evening. The speakers were great, as well as tablemates, including partner, Henriette Kolb (Director of the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women), inspiring champion of businesswomen in Cameroon Kah Walla, and a Colombian champion of early childhood education.

Hani & Henriette

After an evening on the town, we were up early on Wednesday for the plenary on Girls and Women during which Maria Eitel introduced our new commitment. See Henriette and TYO founder, Hani Masri, on stage live or just a snapshot! A great discussion followed - watch the whole video for the hope-inspiring consensus among these in-the-know folks that we may be on the verge of a tipping point regarding the treatment of and investment in girls and women, pointed out by Melanne Verveer.

CGI staff did an awesome job of organizing Action Networks throughout the conference in order to facilitate more concentrated discussion among members with shared interests. Both the Women's Empowerment and Investing in Girls sessions were enlightening and inspiring. Perhaps one of the most valuable aspects of participating in CGI is being exposed to the caliber of work that is being done in each field represented. One cannot help but come away energized and motivated to learn from the best.

Thursday was no less exciting for TYO. We met up with Cherie Blair and Henriette in time for a Human Capital panel about the twenty-first century workforce, after which, we were to sign the legal agreement to formalize our cooperation. The panel was expertly moderated by Gwen Ifill, and included notable speakers like Quincy Jones, Luis Moreno and John Hope Bryant. The panel embodied CGI's pervasive feeling of being among friends. Moreno, President of the Inter American Development Bank, knew of our Nablus project, which he cited in his comments. Ifill later cold-called Cherie Blair to talk a bit about our project, which reflects the meeting's focus on women and girls as well as the strategic Middle East region. Mrs. Blair presented an impressively eloquent overview of the project, her visit to Nablus last May, and her commitment to women's economic empowerment. We'll share the video here as soon as we get it from CGI's media office.

Thursday night's awards dinner was dynamic, authentic and truly heartwarming, from Usher to President Kagame to Ben Stiller to Dr. Rola Dashti to Quincy Jones to Ruchira Gupta!

Finally, the last day was no less exhilarating for TYO: the gorgeous video produced by Students of the World aired in two breakout sessions. And as well as wrapping up the week's events eloquently as ever, President Clinton commended the work that we are doing with the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, and quoted Cherie Blair:

access to finance should be viewed as a human right as much as education and health if you really want to elevate the status of women in the world.

What a week! Now, back to work - we have a lot to live up to!

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