Former U.S. President Bill Clinton welcomes delegates to the tenth annual Clinton Global Initiative in New York.
NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES (SEPTEMBER 22, 2014) (CLINTON GLOBAL INITIATIVE) – The annual Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) kicked off in New York on Monday (September 22), celebrating its tenth year.
The theme of the opening plenary session, chaired by former U.S. President Bill Clinton, was “Reimaging Impact” and welcomed participants including former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim and Chairman, CEO and President of IBM, Ginny Rometty.
Among the topics of discussion were ways of better utilising data, as well as how to continue pushing for equality for women and girls around the world.
On the topic of data, Rometty stated, “If you think of it as a natural resource, you can predict things and I think many of the problems that we are all working on, that bring us together, are problems that are solvable, but people walk by them, and that with this kind of ability to predict, I think of a saying that is: ‘Once you know something, it’s hard to unknow it, and you’re compelled to act’,.”
“President Kim and I were talking about Ebola before we walked out, and I said we’d recently done some work in Sierra Leone which is about analyzing social sentiment, and a topic and a problem that people think is difficult. You can use that data to tell where the hotspots of fear in education are and then direct few resources right away to these things, or if you’re in Rio de Janeiro, you can use this information, you can predict weather 24, 48 hours in advance, so when there’s a mudslide in the favelas you can do something about it, and because you know, it forces a government to pull departments together, break silos, and do it. So I circle back to my optimism and both my advice, it is about the progress everyday, but it is then about seizing these breakthroughs and not ignoring them and I think this one about data as a natural resource is going to allow us to predict and it is going to be the promise that lets us once we know, not unknow, and lets us actually do something about these problems,” she said.
“If you make data available and if you add to the mix smartphones, you can do things like go to a school and you’ll know things from a website that a teacher has been paid to go there, and then you can take a picture with your smartphone of an empty school and then you can upload it to the web and then all of a sudden you have a mechanism for accountability that we just didn’t have before. This is, I think, where we’re going to have to move with big data. We have to make big data usable by everybody, especially the poorest and this could be truly revolutionary for them,” added Kim.
Later on the discussion turned to equal rights for women.
Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, who is also the former Executive Director of United Nations Women, said, “Political power is essential and symbolic things are essential because when there’s no women in a high level position people can talk about equal rights but it was just speech, but when you see that women were able to be in very important positions and do it well, then it’s a model for others and it’s a very important issue that could help other women get into the places that they deserve.”
“The struggle of one woman is the struggle of the whole women of the world so we need ot continue working very strongly and I do believe that this will mean a better world for all,” added Bachelet.
Also participating in the discussion was King Abdullah II of Jordan.
Jordan spoke about the progress made in the Middle East to level the playing field for women.
“The girls always score higher than the boys. They graduate, the higher percentages are always the women. Going into university, the same story: graduation, the highest levels are always the girls but then we start to lose them the minute they go into the workplace. So part of it is again cultural and it’s something that we have to continue to fight. A country our size can’t afford to lose that level of talent, but again it’s some cultural issues that I think we have to challenge. Again it’s workplace, getting married and then there’s that sharp drop off. So this is some things that we have to combat to continue to push those envelopes,” he said.
The Clinton Global Initiative was established in 2005 by Clinton himself, in a bid to convene global leaders of business and governments, to “create and implement innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges”.
This year’s CGI will see U.S. President Barack Obama address a session on Tuesday (September 23).