Jimmy Carter is ALL IN FOR HER

Jimmy Carter's "A Call to Action" Book Signing at Barnes & Noble in New York City on March 25, 2014

Originally published on LinkedIn Influencers on September 19, 2014

Last night marked the official launch of ALL IN FOR HER, a Call to Action and research report that is being released by Women Moving Millions (WMM) to kick off our annual summit in New York City. (I serve as the Chief Engagement Officer of WMM.) In it, we describe the current state of women’s wealth and the ways in which women are serving as leaders in philanthropy and as change agents in their communities. Our Call to Action is for everyone, but in particular women of means, to commit to going ALL IN FOR HER, by using every available resource at their disposal to help advance women and girls worldwide.

To open the launch event, we were honored to have former US President, Jimmy Carter, provide the opening remarks, the transcript of which is as follows:

“Hello and welcome. Thank you all for joining us this exciting evening as Women Moving Millions launches their Call to Action: ‘All In For Her’ inviting women (and men) to step into their donor leadership and catalyze unprecedented resources for women and girls around the world.

I am pleased to be addressing so many leading supporters of women and girls tonight. As you all know, there’s much work to be done when it comes to women’s rights. Too many women and girls face discrimination and extreme violence every day simply because of their gender. Many are still being forced into child marriages and sexual slavery. They suffer from domestic abuse, female genital cutting, and even in the most developed nations, are barred equal and vital access to the education, healthcare, political and social empowerment that allows them not only to survive, but to thrive.

Gender inequality is destructive to our global development, and as I’ve written in my latest book, A Call To Action: Women, Religion, Violence and Power, unless we address the roles each of these issues play in perpetuating global gender injustice, women, girls, men, and boys the world over will remain barred from reaching their true potential. It is time we shift the frameworks in which we measure the value of women and girls, and reinterpret their roles across all cultures and all religions. In this process, we must also include women and girls in these conversations about change. There is an epidemic of violence and injustice against women that spans the globe, and until we urgently address all the factors that breed inequality, our global progress will remain at a standstill.

I sincerely hope that you will all embrace this Call to Action tonight with all your passion, purpose, and urgency. In my book, I wrote about the power of female leadership around the world to address issues of gender inequality in each of their countries. As leaders in women’s philanthropy, this is now your time to use your resources in order to change the future not only for half the world’s population but the world over. We’ve seen the evidence, and we’ve read the stories. We know that providing funding to women and girls works, and tonight we have the perfect opportunity with Women Moving Millions’ ‘All in For Her’ campaign to bridge the need of women and girls on the ground with our power and potential for impact.

Thank you for inviting me to share this important moment and celebration with you. Women Moving Millions is a truly special community who have stepped up to prioritize gender equality, and I am proud to support this urgent cause to advance global development.

It’s time to go ‘All In For Her.’”

Watch the video here!

 

President Jimmy Carter is no stranger to Calls to Action, as he has been a tireless advocate for the rights and advancement of women and girls for decades. Earlier this year, he released his own Call to Action, titled Women, Religion, Violence, and Power, in which he states that, “The most serious and unaddressed worldwide challenge is the deprivation and abuse of women and girls.” I could not agree more.

In the book, President Carter makes the case that the widespread discrimination that every nation in this world practices towards women and girls is one of the most critical human crises facing our world today, and that it is time for this discrimination to end. However you may feel about President Carter’s time as the US President, it is hard to deny that in the 33 years since he left office, he has been a steadfast promoter of peace, and a dedicated supporter of human rights, democracy, conflict resolution, and worldwide health. In 2002, President Carter was deservedly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, and since its inception in 1982, President Carter and The Carter Center has tirelessly advocated against the growing worldwide wealth disparity, has been instrumental in negotiating peaceful resolutions to numerous international conflicts, and has implemented numerous world health initiatives, including the near eradication of the Guinea worm disease.

In addition to his philanthropic works, President Carter is a prolific author with over two dozen books in publication on topics ranging from his time as a US President to the peace process in the Middle East. Women, Religion, Violence, and Power is his most recent book, and while its contents are dire, its implications are incredible. How fantastic that this man, this influential and powerful white man, is standing up and unequivocally stating that the disempowerment of women and girls is the underlying problem to nearly all of the issues our world faces today. From violence against women, rape, prostitution, and sex trafficking, to honor killings, domestic abuse, female genital cutting, and religious discrimination, there is no topic that President Carter shies away from, and while the stories are hard to read, it is gratifying that someone so visible is standing up in defense of women and girls and the rights that are currently being denied to them in every country in the world.

I wholeheartedly support President Carter’s Call to Action, and it was truly incredible to have his support for the launch of ours, as we share the same overarching goal. The next two days of the summit are going to be jam-packed with sessions, panels, and discussion, all revolving around the concept of power, and how we can use our power in positive ways. Speakers include Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway, Pat Mitchell, Abigail Disney, Michael Kimmel, Demi Moore, Lisa Witter, and Malala Yousafzai, among others, and I can’t wait to hear what they all have to say. Last year’s summit literally kept me up at night processing all that I had heard and learned, and I have no doubt that this year will be any different. Stay tuned for updates.

The report is available on the #ALLINFORHER web-site. Link to other resources including 100 Facts on Girls and Women, and 100 BEST Reports.

Let’s Kickstart What We Want to See in the World

0bcfabd Published on LinkedIn Influencers on May 16, 2014.

In the not so distant past, access to capital was extremely difficult. It didn’t matter how brilliant your idea or project may have been, the reality was that a select few people held all the cards in terms of financing, and whether you were trying to record an album, start a company, make a movie, or write a book, your project lived and died by those select few gatekeepers of capital. But no longer! We’ve seen the rise of the phenomenon known as crowdfunding, and last year I wrote about crowdfunding and highlighted Catapult, an online crowdfunding resource for backing projects that support women and girls across the globe. Now it is time to share the story of a particular Kickstarter campaign, one that could not be nearer or dearer to my heart.

The back story: It’s no secret that I love superheroes. I’ve written many times about my love of superhero movies, my obsession with Wonder Woman, and my frustration with Hollywood’s inability to get Wonder Woman to the big screen. This love of superheroes began as a child with my weekly dose of the Saturday morning cartoon Super Friends, but as an adult, my passion for superheroes was ignited in 2001 when I read an article by Tom Peters in Fast Company Magazine: “50 Rules of Leadership”. The last rule was left blank, inviting readers to come up with their own rule of leadership, and after thinking it through, I wrote in, “Be A Superhero.” I typed up this statement, and a colleague of mine added superhero visuals around it, in which Wonder Woman was prominently displayed. The finished product remained on my desk until I left that job, and it is currently hanging in my home office, reminding me every day to be a superhero and to strive to be the best I can be.

30327d3That colleague’s name was Dawn Nadeau, and just this week she and her partner, Julie Kerwin, launched a kickstarter campaign to support their new company, IAmElemental, that will produce a series of female action figures that represent The Elements of Power. These elements form a new version of the periodic table, and are based on the idea that we don’t need a radioactive spider to bite us in order become powerful; we are all already powerful, and that power comes from within. The action figures will be released as a series, with each series consisting of seven figures that each represent an element of a particular power. The first series is that of Courage, with the seven elements being Bravery, Honesty, Energy, Persistence, Enthusiasm, Industry, and Fear. Should these prove successful, IAmElemental has plans for many more series that when combined will create a periodic table of power.

What is potentially revolutionary about IAmElemental’s toys is that these figures do not have set origin stories, but instead encourage kids to create their own stories based on their own ideas and the powers they see within themselves. 0c7b276As the Kickstarter campaign states, IAmElemental believes that kids “are not only capable of creating their own stories, but that story creation is a vital part of their emotional development.” In other words, these action figures are meant to be more character than characters. It’s an amazing example of the power of play, and how something as simple as an empowering action figure can have a huge impact on a child’s imagination. It also helps that these action figures look amazing, and for once, offer realistic body sizes and ratios that stand in stark contrast to the female action figures currently on offer, thereby making them every mother’s dream come true for their impressionable daughters (and sons!).

So why did Dawn and Julie decide to start this company? Because as mothers they were frustrated with the lack of quality superheroes and action figures on the market for girls. Although my baby just turned 14 years old, I remember feeling the same way when she was younger. That is why I know this company will be successful. Smart, intelligent, let’s get it done women are creating something that they would want to buy, and know their friends would want to buy as well. They are not waiting for the market to give them what they want, they are creating the goods themselves. This is what is at the heart of the growing trend in women’s entrepreneurship, and platforms like Kickstarter are helping their dreams and hard work become a thriving business.

3ef8b00Needless to say, I immediately backed this campaign, not only because a dear friend started it, but because I want this product to exist. I know so many little girls who all have birthdays coming up, and this is a gift I can’t wait to give. A set of female action figures that helps us find our superpowers! Are you kidding me? Aside from a pint sized Wonder Woman t-shirt, this has ‘Jacki gift’ written all over it. And I’m not the only one who believes in this project, because just three days into the campaign, it met its initial goal of $35,000, and as of this writing, it’s 193% funded and climbing. Let’s not stop there. Join me in supporting these two incredible women and turn it from a campaign into a movement, and prove to the powers that be that there is a market for empowering female action figures and superheroes. Let’s bring the GIRL POWER to these GIRL POWER toys. And better yet, let’s bring the GUY POWER too.

If this project does not ring your bells like it does mine, consider supporting another project. With over 4,700 hundred live Kickstarter projects at the time of this writing, and more being added every day, there’s a project out there to suit everyone’s interests. And that’s just on one platform! Regardless of what project you ultimately decide to support, the important thing is that platforms like this are democratizing capital and I love it. While unlocking bigger pools of capital is still challenging, the proof of concept that success on kickstarter demonstrates offers a big head start, so let’s all support the projects we believe in and help make dreams a reality. Now that’s the stuff of superheroes.

Jacki Zehner and Laura Moore

 

Advancing Girls Education Through Community and Collaboration

GEClogo“Once you’ve met a girl who tells you her father wants to sell her for a cow, but she wants to go to school, there is no time a-wasting.”

That is the mantra of Anne Wadsworth, Founder and Executive Director of Girls Education Collaborative (GEC), a non-profit working in developing countries to help spur community focused initiatives that advance girls education. Never imagining that she would found a non-profit, Anne first became exposed to the issues surrounding girls education when she went back to school to get a Masters in Public Administration at Syracuse University. Anne found herself in a course titled “Girls Education in Developing Countries”, taught by Catherine Bertini, and it was here that Anne had her “Aha!” moment. It was through this course that she began to understand the incredible barriers that often exist between girls and their education, and how educating girls is a human rights issue that impacts entire communities. Armed with this newfound knowledge and passion, Anne decided to do something about this pressing problem, the result of which is GEC.

Founded in January of 2012, GEC is currently working with the Immaculate Heart Sisters of Africa in the village of Kitenga, Tanzania to build a boarding school capable of enrolling 1,500 girls ranging in age from pre-K through secondary school. Built on 1,000 acres of land donated by the Tanzanian government, the school will contain dorms for both the students and the teachers, science labs, classrooms, a guardhouse, and a library that is to be built in the memory of environmental attorney Alice Kryzan. Some of the buildings have already been built, with the whole project hoping to be completed in January of 2015 pending the completion of fundraising.

Although the Kitenga Village Project is the primary project currently underway for GEC, the organization has been set up to facilitate additional projects in the future. Serving as both a fundraising and a resource portal, GEC’s mandate is specifically rooted in collaboration, working within communities, and sharing knowledge among experts. As Anne says, GEC is not about re-inventing the wheel, as they want to work with other experts to help improve opportunities for girls and bring high quality education to villages like Kitenga. Sadly, for many of these small rural areas, there’s no other alternative, a situation that may be hard for Westerners to wrap their head around, but only seems to make people like Anne work harder. Which is amazing, because when it comes to girls’ education, there really is no time to waste.

You can find out more about the Girls Education Collaborative by visiting their website, or you can find them on Twitter: @thewholegirl

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