By Kimberly Gire
A tremendous force has descended upon Paris this week. Female leaders from across the globe have gathered together in the "City of Light" to attend the two-day Women’s Forum Global Meeting 2017. Their call to action? That women leaders come together to tackle the unprecedented challenges we face in our disrupted world for the benefit of humanity.
Shining especially bright are the inspirational speakers on the programme from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). These women 'daring to lead in a disrupted world' are united by a common purpose - to be a force for progress and action, shining a light in an often very dark world.
They are on the front lines of creating a new vision for our world, working together to make real change happen.
Yesterday, delegates had the great honour of hearing the heart-wrenching first-hand accounts of Marianne Gasser, Head of the ICRC's Syrian delegation. She cited the incredible resilience of the Syrian people as her motivation to keep faith with them, knowing the risks are more than worth the rewards.
When asked how she finds the personal strength in the face of destruction and devastation, she humbly replied that her mission and its impact for people on the ground is all she needs to keep going: “They want us to listen to them, be close to them…talk to them…even though they know we cannot give everything they need. They give us the strength to persevere and to go on.”
On the technology front, Charlotte Lindsey-Curtet - Director of Communications and Information Management at ICRC - shared how technology can be used to bridge the digital divide in conflict zones to help displaced people reconnect with family members and to resolve issues around the fate of missing people through facial recognition software and data analytics. Technology - although transformative - can pose risks, and the ICRC is working to protect precious information and personal data about the people they serve.
Finally, the formidable Dr. Helen Durham - Director for International Law and Policy at ICRC - spoke about the importance of women in leadership roles remaining authentic and kind to themselves and to those they lead. She also highlighted the great power women have when they support each other and find pathways for other women, specifically noting the presence of the Global Women Leaders delegation as "a network of established women who have assembled to support the work of the ICRC."
Helen, Marianne, Charlotte - we are so thankful for all that you do and it is our privilege to support you as you take on the great challenges facing people affected by conflict around the world.
Today, I have the great honour of speaking to Forum delegates on two different panels on the subject of sustainable and innovative finance. I am speaking about the ICRC's "Humanitarian Impact Bond" - the first funding mechanism of its kind in the world that aims to encourage private sector investment in humanitarian aid programmes for people in conflict zones.
As founder of Global Women Leaders, I am so proud to lead our delegation of over 20 Global Women Leaders - every one a modern, motivated, and action-oriented woman - at this important and inspiring global meeting. As strategic philanthropists supporting the ICRC, united by a common purpose to use their skills, networks, innovative thinking, time, resources and influence to help move the needle to make a difference in the lives of the world's most vulnerable women and their families.
As we head into the second day of the #WFGM17 programme, we look forward to sharing what we have learned, the connections we have made, the knowledge and innovation we have shared, and what we will do next.