This past week, the White House Council on Women and Girls (CWG) hosted a briefing with 20 Afghan businesswomen. This group of women arrived to the White House after completing a two week business management training program at the Thunderbird School of Global Management. These entrepreneurs are part of Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Women- “a five-year investment by Goldman Sachs to provide 10,000 underserved women around the world with a business and management education.” The program stresses the importance of investing in women as “one of the most effective ways to reduce inequality and facilitate inclusive economic growth.”
During this briefing, we discussed the history and makeup of the CWG, the importance of women’s economic security, and key initiatives the White House has focused on to empower women and girls, such as pay equity, workplace flexibility, and the fight to end Violence Against Women. During the briefing, Abigail Friedman, the Director for Afghanistan from the National Security Council (NSC), spoke to the group about Afghan women leaders in government, business, non-governmental organizations, education and the arts who she met while working on the ground. Avra Siegel, with the National Economic Council (NEC), discussed the recently released “Jobs and Economic Security for America's Women Report.” Additionally, Ginger Lew spoke about the Administration’s efforts, domestically, to assist and encourage women business owners.
The White House also hosted a discussion this week on UN Security Council Resolution 1325, which calls for increased representation and inclusion of women and girls in the decision-making, peace building, and peacekeeping processes. Administration Officials, State Department representatives and women peacebuilders from around the world (Sudan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Liberia, Nepal, Indonesia, Kenya, Norway, Sierra Leone, Pakistan, Colombia, Uganda and the United States) participated in the discussion. We are grateful to former Ambassador Swanee Hunt and other members of the Institute for Inclusive Security, who also participated in the discussion, for helping to bring this group together.
During this session, I was fortunate to hear from a number of women who had inspirational stories to tell about bringing together displaced women to discuss their challenges, organizing post-conflict community organizations, and conducting training on the important role of women in peacemaking and peacebuilding processes for security forces, policymakers, teachers and journalists. These women, with their moving stories, were able to impart an informative and unique perspective having been on the frontlines of these efforts in their respective countries. The discussion was a wonderful chance to further dialogue on Resolution 1325, focusing on what has changed since its adoption, while recognizing what can be done to further its implementation in the future.
Tina Tchen is Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement and Executive Director of the Council on Women and Girls