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Davos 2010 - Redesigning the World with Girls in Mind

03/24/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Next week I'll be heading for the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting. It is always exciting to head off to Davos, Switzerland wondering what awaits us. The theme of this year's meeting is "Rethink, Redesign, and Rebuild" the world. That's a tall order, but if you've read my blog before, you know where the answer lies: with a girl. As we look to rethink, redesign and rebuild the world, we have to do that with adolescent girls at the center of all solutions. Girls have the potential to improve economies: they can either play a key role in breaking the cycles of poverty, or perpetuate it, if left behind. I'll be doing short updates while I'm at Davos, so stay tuned. In the meantime, here's a little something to set the context for the week ahead.

Last year, I talked about why it's important to invest in girls. Girls took center stage at the World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting, for the first time. The session was a huge success - it was the fourth most subscribed session of the entire Annual Meeting! But the global leaders' interest didn't stop there: discussions about investing in adolescent girls continued to garner great attention at WEF regional meetings in Africa and India throughout the year.

The world is listening to girls. Leaders are getting it. Momentum around girls is growing and has continued to build. One of the most exciting things that has happened for girls recently is that in a recent episode of Oprah!, on girls and women, the girl effect video (girleffect.org) ran in full. The incredible exposure of Oprah unearthed a new legion of girl advocates who visited the girl effect Facebook site in droves to become fans and take action.

Now that people have started to understand why it's important to invest in girls, we need to move to the next level and start tackling how that needs to be done. On January 29 from 14:30 to 16:30, girls will be on WEF's official agenda again. The "Setting the Stage for the Girl Effect" workshop will explore how business, government and civil society can lay the foundation and implement real action so that the girl effect will materialize in economies around the globe.

Working together in a hands-on workshop moderated by New York Times columnist and author Nicholas Kristof, workshop discussion leaders - including Sir Fazel Abed of BRAC, Nigel Chapman of Plan, and other participants - will explore strategies to get girls the resources they need to successfully transition through adolescence to adulthood. Melinda Gates, Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will be delivering closing remarks.

The session will look at investment opportunities in girls and girl-focused strategies to spur development in the world, reduce poverty, accelerate sustainable economies, and improve global health. Girls will either move economies or perpetuate poverty. This is the natural next step for moving forward to figure out the "how" - how to make those investments real; how to take action.

But, this is just the beginning. We'll be placing girls at the center of conversations and the top of people's agendas, urging everyone to take action, and include girls in everything they do. We're all heading to Davos to rethink, redesign, and rebuild with girls in mind.

So get ready: 2010 is going to be the Year of the Girl! Make sure you're a part of it: stay tuned and check back for more blogs on what's to come for girls at Davos.

For more information about the girl effect, check out www.girleffect.org.

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