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Vital Voices and Women in the World kicked off a week of events in the run up to the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Annual Meeting in New York City with The New York Times columnist Nick Kristof and Women in the World founder Tina Brown joining Vital Voices president and CEO Alyse Nelson for a standing-room-only panel discussion on the future of global women’s leadership.

The event featured panelists from the social enterprise sector, government and civil society, including Danielle Saint-LĢ«t, Ambassador at Large for Haiti and Global Ambassadors Program alumna; Kalyani Subramanyam, head of the Naz Foundation in India for girls’ empowerment through the Goal Programme; and Akanksha Hazari, founder and CEO of m.Paani, a mobile-based loyalty program for underserved communities that spend rewards on life-changing development services. She is also a Global Ambassadors Program alumna.

This week, as the world’s leaders at CGI and during the UN General Assembly assess the progress made toward the Millennium Development Goals and the work still left to do, the panel discussion explored the impact women leaders will make on the post-2015 development agenda.

According to Alyse Nelson, global women’s leadership is “the great 21st century development opportunity.” It was a statement echoed by Danielle Saint-LĢ«t, who said that for post-earthquake Haiti, empowering women is a development priority. For Akanksha Hazari, moving business models away from traditional CSR programs toward social impact initiatives holds promise for sustainable change in India. Kalyani Subramanyam’s vision sees empowering girls through sport as a means to teach life skills and foster decision-making, building up confidence to contribute positively to their families and communities.

“Women have woken up to the fact that they can be powerful,” said Akanksha. “Women are hungry for change.”

Indeed, to survive global economic crises, resource scarcities and deep societal inequities we need women leading change across all sectors – free from economic impediments, cultural persecution and token political representation. There is still so much work to do, and Vital Voices is committed to working with our partners to create an enabling environment for economic opportunity, security and human rights, and wider political participation at all levels.

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