Attendees were asked to arrive prior to the doors opening at 6:30am on Tuesday morning. I arrived at 6:20am, and the colorful line of women’s clothing wrapped for an entire block around the entrance of the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC. While on line, I met Kinda, a woman originally from Syria and who had been living in the U.S. since 2010.
While wearing a golden colored hijab, Kinda explained that she worked as the regional director for the Women’s Initiative for Self-Empowerment (WISE), an organization which seeks to inspire a network of young Muslim female leaders to become ambassadors for women in their community in Dallas, Texas. We spoke excitedly about our roles to advance women, which made our wait to get inside the building fly by.
We parted in the crowd once we got to registration, where we were separated by last name. I made my way through the convention center, grabbed breakfast, and even bumped into a fellow World Mom, Lashaun Martin from the Mocha Moms!
To get a good spot, I headed to the main room and met another woman who was studying to be a human rights lawyer. We joined the women from the Rape Crisis Center of DC at their table. When they told me about the work they did, all I could get out was a big “THANK YOU!” Here is a photo of us:
With awesome women from the DC Rape Crisis Center in Washington, DC for the State of the World Women’s Summit on June 14, 2016.
As the crowd was settling down, I saw Kinda, my friend from about all of 30 minutes ago, set her stuff down at a table nearby, and I went over to invite her over to sit with us, and she did.
From June 14th -15th this year women change makers from around the country were all led together by invitation from the White House to attend the first ever United State of Women Summit. Speakers included United States President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Save the Children CEO and President Carolyn Miles, US Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Oprah and more.
The Violence Against Women Act (check out my post about VAWA on a fellow World Mom, Another Jennifer’s Blog), equal pay, paid maternity and sick leave, raising the minimum wage, women empowerment, women entrepreneurship. women in politics, LGBT rights, terrorism, poverty, and keeping more girls in school worldwide were main topics of the event.
Introduced by Mikaila, the child entrepreneur behind the now popular Me and the Bees Lemonade, our country’s Commander in Chief took the stage. His first words?
“This is what a feminist looks like!” — US President Barack Obama
He was the only one on stage, and the crowd of over 5,000 women applauded with intensity and whoops of joy.
Jennifer Burden proud to be listening to US President Barack Obama speak live at the State of the World’s Women Summit on June 14, 2016 in Washington, DC.
President Obama gave a speech of unity and inclusion. His message was about a country for everyone, regardless of race, belief, sex, or sexual orientation. He mentioned how his daughters and their millennial counterparts saw the world very differently from how the world is today. His girls think it’s strange to treat people poorly just because they are different. How their generaton thinks it’s weird that there hasn’t been a woman President yet. Or that it’s surprising that women make less pay than men.
He also said that we’re on track for women to achieve equal pay by 2080. 2080??? And that the nation needed to work together to close the gap now.
After his speech I felt like our voices of women across the nation were being valued. I needed to hear that someone cared about equality so passionately. I needed to hear that everyone was accepted.
With news of a systematic race problem being unveiled through the powers of social media in the United States, gun violence, poverty and world terrorism, I knew what the President spoke of wasn’t the full reality today in our country, but what we aimed to be. Dreams of unity and equality that we can make it happen. We WILL get there, but everyone needs to play a role on the team. It gave me hope, and I was quite emotionally moved by hearing his words. They motivated me to try harder.
When I turned around to face the table after he spoke, Kinda could see my teary face. She started walking around the circular table towards me, and I met her half way. We hugged. We were pure strangers just a few hours ago. We hugged the hug that we needed to hug after that speech. A hug that we all belonged. A hug that we were all understood. A hug that it is not only ok, but also safe, to be different from one another. A hug that supporting each other should be our normal first intention and reaction above all else.
Kinda and Jennifer Burden pose for a photo at the State of the World’s Women Summit in Washington, DC on June 14th, 2016.
This is my America. And I am proud to be a part of it, just one citizen among the many helping to lead it forward in progress. We can all do our part in appreciating our differences and finding ways in which we can work together. For staying positive. For seeing the good in the world, instead of being afraid of what makes us different. For finding what brings us together as humans.
This is where I see my country’s future. This is how I see the world’s future. This is what I want for the world’s children. Freedom. Peace. The ideas are out there, so no doubt it can be achieved. It is possible!
As a part of World Moms Network, we seek to bond together and do our part to help create a world of friendship, peace, acceptance, and understanding. It’s even in our vision statement,
“We envision a world of peace and equality, grounded by our common bond of motherhood.”
We believe it can happen. We’re aiming for it. Join us. Hang out, here, on our website. Sign up for our newsletter. Follow us on social media. Share and like our posts. Comment and share your thoughts on how we can make the world a more peaceful place. Tell us what you’re doing to help achieve these goals from your corner of the world, whether it be a random act of kindness or a major campaign — no step is too small! And we are so interested to know about YOU! This space is for all of us. This project is real. Be a part of our movement — you’re invited, and we’re still just getting started!
This is an original post to World Moms Network by Founder and CEO, Jennifer Burden, in New Jersey, USA.
Photo credits to the author.
In the U.S., I find myself sometimes avoiding conflict in social situations. My kids…well, not so much…
“You can’t take that, it’s mine!!!” Or…
“She is writing on the kitchen table!”, while my girls battle for a crayon. Or…
“If you knock over my blocks, I’m telling!”, while just seconds later, my little one knocks the blocks with a cheeky grin. Or…
This is the reality now with a 7 and 3 year old, but I’m predicting that when they’re teenagers that they will rebel in the same way I did. Fight with their parents for a later curfew. Disagree with their mom because they want to wear a strapless dress to the eighth grade dance. Insist that they’re dating whoever they want. I hope their outspoken fire to challenge society will grow into and beyond their teenage years. I didn’t say that I am prepared for it, but I can accept that it is coming…I think.
But, as adults, it seems many of us tend to harden and lose that fire over time. The fire that ignited our teenage passions to think in a different way. The fire that kept us learning to support our own stance, for what is right. Going with the flow just feels more comfortable sometimes, especially when big odds are not at stake.
But, at the World Bank and IMF Civil Society meetings last week, big odds — which impact the lives of the world’s people and often the most vulnerable among us — were at stake. I witnessed change-makers taking a stand for the greater good. Here are some people who are carving out the new, more responsible way forward for the World Bank, IMF and beyond…
Jessica Evans of the Human Rights Watch challenged World Bank officials on incorporating human rights into new banking safeguards. She said that in the past the World Bank didn’t touch corruption because the institution wasn’t supposed to engage in politics according to its policy of the past, but now fighting corruption is fair game and a larger part of the World Bank’s mission. She pointed out this ability for the bank to change in a positive way on corruption, but its failure to do the same considering human rights.
She (Jessica Evans of the Human Rights Watch) claimed that human rights should not fall into the ‘political’ category. They are a necessity for responsible lending practices and should be incorporated into the current safeguards as they are being rewritten now, not as an afterthought a year later when they will be completed.
Jessica Evans of the Human Rights Watch speaks about the importance of human rights on a World Bank Civil Society Meeting in Washington, DC. October 7th, 2014.
To my surprise, I also had the chance to reconnect with a fellow Villanova University alum, Joseph Robertson, now Strategic Director of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby. He questioned Dr. Kim, President of the World Bank, and Mme. Lagarde, President of the IMF, on carbon pricing during the Civil Society Town Hall. Joe is championing a coalition called Pathway to Paris, which is seeking to mount a global coalition effort “to secure an agreement to motivate carbon pricing country by country.”
Joseph Robertson of Citizens Climate Action, questions World Bank President Dr. Kim and IMF President Mme. Lagarde on carbon pricing.
I also met the bold, Faith Nwadishi, Executive Director at the Koyenum Immalah Foundation, who had come so many miles — from Nigeria — to Washington, DC to put pressure on organizations to come together in the fight against Ebola in West Africa. Faith had no qualms about later taking the spot right next to Dr. Kim during the Town Hall. I was inspired by her energy!
Faith Nwadishi came all the way from Nigeria for the World Bank’s Civil Society Meetings in Washington, DC. Pictured here with Jennifer Burden of World Moms Blog on October 8th, 2014.
And, I could have listened to Patrick from the Congo speak for days. He’s a 28-year old masters student (his second, this one in international development). Patrick is enacting change at home through an organization he founded that educates both, women and men, on rape prevention in Congo. He sees his little sister within every woman in his home country and is dedicated to making Congo a safer place for women.
World Mom and RESULTS Board Member, Cindy Levin, talks with graduate student and change maker Patrick from Congo at the reception following the World Bank and IMF Civil Society Town Hall. October 8th, 2014.
There is no doubt the World Bank and IMF’s lending practices of the past have negatively affected civil society. And there is no doubt that the organization in the past had closed their doors to the voices of those very same people.
But, the cultural shift at the World Bank Civil Society Meetings is one that encourages change makers to join them in debate, intellectualism, passion, heated discussions and a lot of heart, which are all clearly the silver lining from the bank’s closed door past.
The current bank President, Dr. Jim Yong Kim is even a former bank protester, which is an indicator on how the tide is turning.
It is time for the world to listen to the likes of Jessica Evans, Joseph Robertson, Faith Nwadishi, Patrick and many more change makers around the world. They are the kind of people that will press and lead the World Bank toward it’s goal to end poverty. You can join them, too…what are you waiting for?
This is an original post by World Moms Blog founder, Jennifer Burden in New Jersey, USA. Jennifer and Cindy Levin of Missouri, USA were invited by the World Bank to take part in the bank’s Civil Society Meetings in Washington, DC. See additional posts by Cindy Levin about their experience on her blog, Anti-Poverty Mom:
Keeping It Civil at the World Bank
A Different View of Citizen Engagement at the World Bank
A New Course for the Big Ship of the World Bank
Photo credits to the author and Cindy Levin.
World Moms, Cindy Changyit-Levin and Jennifer Burden, are in Washington, DC this week for the World Bank Civil Society Meetings.
About 10+ years ago I worked in Washington, D.C. as a financial analyst, and when the World Bank meetings were coming up nearby my office, my then employer, the Federal Reserve Board, would caution us about the protests surrounding the event.
We were told to take a different metro route or come into the office at a different time in the best interest of our safety. But this week I was invited back to Washington, D.C., in fact, for the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) meetings by the World Bank to report for World Moms Blog, and now the atmosphere is a little different…
Gone are the closed doors. The World Bank has since opened it’s doors to civil society and are taking note of the concerns of people from the countries where they are lending. This was very different from my first impression of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund — I had learned back in the late 90’s in college as a finance major that the organizations were set up to end poverty, but their lending actually made the countries worse off in the end. Hence, the angry protests of the past from people who cared.
It was time that the World Bank concentrated less on turning a profit and more on helping civil society, the very reason why it was created in the first place.
New leadership — did you know that Jim Yong Kim, the current President of the World Bank is a former anthropologist, cofounded PIH with Paul Farmer and others and was formerly the Chairman of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School? — has come in and the doors have been held for the angered (rightfully so) civil society members, so all should be good now, right?
But, how quickly can change occur under new leadership in an organization of over 9000 people?
The answer is that it takes time.
The World Bank is currently undergoing a reorganization, which is ruffling a lot of feathers, as there were protests just yesterday from staff members about the reorg and the payment of higher-ups, according to the Financial Times. And, yesterday at the civil society meetings we heard complaints about corruption and lack of adequate safeguards. Safeguards are precautionary or counter measures that are put into place to protect against the infringement of an agreement.
We heard concerns about human rights issues including gender equality and LGBT rights. And, we saw World Bank employees and officials taking notes and saying that they’d get questions to the bank leadership.
In fact, the bank fielded questions from people who flew in from Morocco, Albania, Egypt, Madagascar, Congo and more places for a “Civil Society Town Hall” with Dr. Kim and the managing director of the IMF, Christine Lagarde that will take place tomorrow.
The World Bank has invited its most stringent critics into their doors from the streets and is listening.
How can you make change if you don’t know what the problems are?
This process of listening is a big step from the bank of the past. How can money be lended to developing countries and provide the intended result, to end poverty?
Who will be on the ground policing the programs and seeing them out as intended?
This is a pivotal time in World Bank history, and I look forward to watching it unfold in the right direction to help, as is stamped on the pavement outside and in all the elevators to…”END POVERTY”.
Follow World Moms Blog contributors Jennifer Burden and Cindy Changyit-Levin as they report from the World Bank Civil Society meetings this week. They will be live tweeting from @WorldMomsBlog, @JenniferBurden and @ccylevin. Also, follow the hashtag for the event: #acso14.
See the article on World Moms Blog by Cindy Changyit-Levin that got us invited to the meetings this week.
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Founder and CEO, Jennifer Burden of New Jersey, USA.
Photo credit to Rashika Weerasena.
The customs officer handed us back our passports at Dulles International and said, “Welcome home.”
All my life I’ve been a global nomad, so home has always been a fluid concept. If you add up the years spent in any one country, the US now comes out on top, which I suppose wins it the title of “home” (congrats America). But given that we’d just left behind our comfortable house in Morocco for temporary lodging with family and the fearful prospect of finding something new with our now drastically diminished buying power, home seemed to be farther away than ever.
Starting on the drive back from the airport and throughout the rest of our first weekend home, I was confronted with many things I had missed and a few I hadn’t.
Rubber surfacing on the playground: missed!
Gridlock around the DC area: Could have gone my whole life without seeing again.
Trader Joe’s: Be still my heart!
Inflammatory Cable News: See DC gridlock above. (more…)
World Moms Bloggers, Dee Harlow, Kyla P’an, Jennifer Burden and Nicole Melancon met up for the first time in Washington, DC for a UN Foundation Summit for Shot@Life!
What better way for World Moms Blog writers to meet up than at a UN Foundation Volunteer Summit?
Recently, I headed to Washington, DC by invitation from the UN Foundation to speak at a summit to help fire start a grass-roots movement across the United States in support of their Shot@Life campaign. This campaign supports vaccinations to save the lives of children in developing nations.
The foundation gave me the opportunity to invite a few fellow Americans who I thought would be interested in championing the Shot@Life cause. World Moms Blog editors, Kyla P’an in Massachusetts, USA, who had done previous service work in India, and Nicole Melancon in Minnesota, USA, who had raised money to build a school in Nepal singlehandedly, answered the call. And I’m so glad they did! (more…)