March 10, 2015
New York — UN Women hosted a star studded event at the Manhattan Center last Tuesday evening to promote global gender equality. Headliners included Bill de Blasio, Hillary Clinton, Melinda Gates, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Rebecca Minkoff, Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, and Patricia Arquette.
The room was packed with Clinton supporters who roared with enthusiasm after host Sade Baderinwa “accidentally” introduced Clinton as a presidential candidate. Clinton did not comment on the remark after she took the stage, she began by acknowledging the work of the women who came before her as well as the contributions of the Secretary General towards gender equity. She went on to promote the work that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has done with the Clinton Foundation to create noceilings.org, a database of global statistics that provides analysis on women’s issues worldwide.
Several announcements were made during the event including Uber’s commitment to create one million jobs for women over the next five years. Intel also announced its collaboration with Rebecca Minkoff in support of their Diversity in Technology Initiative. They’ve committed $300 million to the initiative which is aimed at increasing their dismal numbers of women and minorities to fully representational by 2020.
One of the most celebrated speakers of the night was Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who was recognized by Melinda Gates as being “the key reason why Liberia has turned the tide on Ebola.” Much of the audience rose from their seats in admiration as President Sirleaf walked on stage. President Sirleaf acknowledged the positive changes that have been made around the world over the past twenty years including that more women are opening their own businesses, more girls are enrolled in school, and more CEO’s are female. She then pointed to the assessment done by the UN’s Commision on the Status of Women which the results she generalized as concluding that “we’re not there yet.” She continued, “it’s time for all the women of the world to say it’s time for equity.”
A surprisingly touching story came from model/actress, Meghan Markle who told the story of how, at 11 years old, she convinced Proctor and Gamble to change the tagline “Women all over America are fighting greasy pots and pans” to “People all over America…” She closed appealing for women to get involved, “Women need a seat at the table and they need an invitation to do so… and if that is not possible then they need to create their own table.”
Patricia Arquette focused on the US pay gap drawing from her own experience of living in poverty as a young, single mother to highlight the impact that closing the pay gap
could have for millions of Americans. According to Arquette, the pay gap costs American women $490 billion each year and she urged the audience to recognize Equal Pay Day on April 14th.
Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown