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Investing in Women and Girls

By Ruth-Anne Renaud

According the to the UN, women undertake 66% of the world’s work. They produce 50% of the worlds food. In spite of this, they earn only 10% of the world’s income. And they own only 1% of the world’s property.

With statistics like these, it is no wonder that the Clinton Global Initiative emphasizes the importance of investing in women and girls. As I watched the Wednesday morning plenary panel address this issue, the consensus and conviction among panel members was crystal clear that empowering women is central to what the world must do in the 21st century.

In other words, investing in women and girls is not just important. It is vital to the well-being of our world.

This plenary session, moderated by journalist Diane Sawyer, featured Edna Adan, Director and Founder of Edna Adan Maternity and Teaching Hospital; Lloyd C. Blankfein, Chairman and CEO of The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc; Zainab Salbi, Founder and CEO of Women for Women International; Rex Tillerson, Chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil; Melanne Verveer, Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, Office of the Secretary, US Department of State; and Robert BZ. Zoellick, President of The World Bank Group.

Out of the discussion came a number of thought-provoking conversations. In particular, however, this reality stuck out to me: in order to empower women and girls, we must prioritize education. And more education. And more education.

With this need entrenched in my mind, I watched in the early afternoon as former Secretary of State Madeline Albright unveiled Opportunity International’s commitment to education. Opportunity’s CEO Kadita “A.T.” Tshibaka followed, speaking more specifically about Opportunity’s Banking on Education initiative. By empowering school proprietors through loans to grow their schools, by offering tuition loans to parents and by creating savings accounts for parents to plan for their child’s future, Opportunity is creating a revolution in education.

Opportunity International has embarked on a $10 million campaign to finance the expansion of the Banking on Education Initiative. On average, every $10,000 raised can finance an additional school, touching approximately 635 lives including the families of students and teachers. With $4 million raised to date, Opportunity is well on its way to achieving its ambitious goal.

To see the broadcast of this commitment, click here.

Thank you for joining me in the vital work of empowering women and girls.

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