Cory Heyman, Room to Read Strategic Advisor for the Girls' Education and Monitoring and Evaluation programs, joined John Wood at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) this week in New York. In his guest blog, Cory shares an off-stage glimpse of CGI.
The halls of the Sheraton Towers in New York City are alive this week with international dignitaries, corporate CEOs and NGO leaders. Many people have come to declare new commitments that their organizations are making to respond to some of the most challenging issues in the world today. It was inspiring to hear President Arroyo announce Room to Read’s new commitment to improve educational opportunities for one million girls and one million boys over the next two years.
The buzz around the conference is that Room to Read is an organization to watch. We take our commitments seriously—as ambitious as they are—and we follow through with quality programming. That John was joined on stage for the announcement by Robert Diamond, president of Barclays Capital PLC, and Noa Meyer, vice president of Goldman Sachs, further demonstrates the credibility that Room to Read has earned with some of the world’s most savvy investors.
What most people don’t know, though, is that there is another side of CGI. After major commitments are announced and spotlights dim, CGI members continue to sit together in thematic breakout sessions to discuss the most pressing challenges as well as new opportunities for collaboration. One of the themes that CGI has identified as an ongoing global challenge is economic empowerment for girls and women.
Room to Read has been an active partner in the Action Network called Focus on Girls: From Education to Economic Empowerment. Over the past few months, we have convened teleconferences to discuss ways in which organizations can work together to improve gender equality in access to education. What was clear early on is that all Subgroup members share the belief that adolescence is a critical time in girls’ lives for making important decisions about their future. Supporting girls to stay in school and complete secondary education is the best way to improve their life chances.
In Tuesday’s breakout session with the full Action Network, I shared some of the ideas that came out of the Secondary Education Subgroup to date. The first was to launch a study about the experiences of economically challenged girls who complete secondary school and continue to college or university. Organizations such as Room to Read have seen many girls overcome the odds not only to complete secondary school but also to receive support to enter college. Their stories could inspire many other girls at critical stages of their own education. A collaborative study could help us learn more about steps for continuing educational success.
Another key point of discussion, shared by the other two Action Network subgroups as well, was the need and desire to share the materials they develop to support girls’ education. All organizations can benefit from seeing each others’ materials and making use of the best resources available. The end result is that the entire Action Network decided to pursue a broader collaboration and work to create a website where a range of program materials for adolescent girls can be shared. Stay tuned for updates as these activities unfold.
Read more about our Girls’ Education program on our website.