Last week, while I was in New York covering the annual Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) meeting for Tonic, I got a bee in my bonnet about the issue of the day; the importance of empowering women and girls.
"It's the issue of the century!" I proclaimed to whomever would listen. "Nicholas Kristof says so!" His new book on women's issues, "Half the Sky," was a big subject of conversation, and he and his co-author (and wife) Sheryl WuDunn were the toast of the town.
I delved into the topic in an article for Tonic, which gave me the opportunity to talk to some amazing women's rights advocates, including anti-sex-trafficking activist Ruchira Gupta and founder and CEO of Women for Women International Zainab Salbi.
Now that I'm home, I can't get this issue off my mind, so today I am bringing you a recap of some of the great progress on girls' and women's issues that took place over the CGI week. All members of CGI are required to make some kind of commitment toward bettering our world, and this year 13 of those commitments involve investing in the Earth's female half.
Here are a few choice picks:
* Pharmaceutical giants Merck and Qiagen have launched a new project to prevent cervical cancer by providing at least 1.5 million girls and 1.5 million women access to HPV vaccines and HPV DNA tests.
* Sustainable Health Enterprises will make sure one million girls and women in Africa get access to cheap, environmentally friendly sanitary pads and education on health and hygiene by 2012.
* Plan USA and partners are taking on a three-year project to train 140 adolescent Ghanaian girls in journalism and media production to help them speak out against gender discrimination.
* Goldman Sachs will collaborate with partners to give female entrepreneurs in Peru education in business and access to capital with which to expand their businesses.
* Hathay Bunano will work with partners to create 22 handicraft production facilities and training centers in Bangladesh to help 2,000 poor women climb out of poverty.
* Women for Women International has committed to help 103,000 female survivors of war gain more productive livelihoods over the next three years.