"Women + Girls" at the Aspen Ideas Festival: So What?
"In the holy Koran, when a young man goes on a jihad, he first has to get permission and blessing from his mother. If a woman has an education, she is much less likely to condone her son to get into violence or to terrorism." -- Greg Mortenson, Central Asia Institute
What's so important about half of the world's population? Well, consider some realities:
What do women contribute to corporate financial performance? On average, Fortune 500 companies with more women on their boards of directors turned in better financial performances than those with fewer women. (Ernst & Young, "Groundbreakers: Using the Strength of Women to Rebuild the World Economy," 2009.)
What happens when women are employed in the third world? When women and girls earn income, they reinvest 90 percent of it into their families, as compared with only 30 to 40 percent for a man. (Phil Borges, Women Empowered: Inspiring Change in the Emerging World, 2007.)
What happens when girls receive an education? A one-percentage-point (ppt) increase in female education raises the average level of GDP by 0.37 ppt and raises annual GDP growth rates by 0.2 ppt on average. (United Nations, "Investing in Women and Girls," 2008.) Despite steady progress, two-thirds of the 759 million adults lacking literacy skills today are women. (UNESCO, "Education for all," 2010.)
What happens when women across the globe have little to no access to health resources? Each year, half a million mothers lose their lives in the process of giving birth. Millions more suffer complications that produce lifelong disability. (USAID, "USAID Global Health: Improving Global Health Improves the World," October 2009.)
In a special twist to our programming this summer, virtually every program track will engage in a subject relevant to women and/or girls-- a 13th area of emphasis, if you will, woven into every content theme, from World Affairs to Global Health. An impressive list of leaders and experts will weigh in across a variety of issues, among them: Ann Veneman, Executive Director of UNICEF; Maria Eitel, President of the Nike Foundation; Helene Gayle, CEO of CARE USA; Kim Bottomly, President of Wellesley College; Mary Robinson, President of Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative; Melanne Verveer, US State Department Global Ambassador-at-Large for Women's Issues; Nicholas Kristof, Columnist for The New York Times and author of Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.