Hillary Clinton

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Chelsea Clinton champions youth engagement and women’s rights | 

Chelsea Clinton leads a plenary discussion at CGI.
Chelsea Clinton leads a plenary discussion at CGI 2013.
CGI

(New York) – Chelsea Clinton recognizes that being the daughter of a former US President and former Secretary State pushes her onto the American political stage.

It is an opportunity rather than a burden for Clinton. In a conversation with a small group of bloggers on the Sidelines of the Clinton Global Initiative last week, she described her interest in women’s rights, national service and youth engagement.

CGI used to host a separate track for women and girls. The idea was to raise the issues concerning the group, but the foundation came to realize that it was not a separate issue. Rather, women and girls are a part of all aspects of development.

“All of our work must have implications for girls and women and for the gender gap,” she said.

The organization now advises its members to consider how they are going to reach women and girls, as well as other marginalized groups, when developing their pledges. The change is working, she said. Nearly two-thirds of all commitments this year included women and girls in their plans. That is up from half last year. Continue reading

Any innovations at the big conferences this week? “Not really.” | 

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CGI

As you probably heard, this week New York City played host to word leaders at the United Nations, celebrities and businessmen at the Clinton Global Initiative, as well as young techies passionate about development at the Social Good conference.

Lucky for you, Humanosphere’s man on the East Coast, Tom Murphy, was there to see all the action firsthand. Despite the stuffy press rooms and being herded like cattle with other reporters into side alleys, Tom still managed to get some facetime with big names, like microfinance luminary Mohammed Yunus and Chelsea Clinton.

So, what got done? Did Bill Clinton, whose handlers have attracted criticism in the press as of late, facilitate ground-breaking new pledges to better the world? Did Mashable’s Social Good conference generate smart ideas for how to use technology in the fight against poverty?

The answer in the headline is a bit of a spoiler, but it’s really more complicated than that. Tune in below to hear Tom spill the beans – the good, the bad, and the jokes.

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Navigating the dynamics of power and security at Clinton Global Initiative | 

The press at work at CGI.
The press at work at CGI.

To interview Chelsea Clinton alongside a small group of bloggers we were directed to meet in the lobby of the Sheraton Hotel, home to the Clinton Global Initiative.

Former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard waited for a elevator to take her ostensibly up to her room, while Population Services International head Karl Hofmann awaited for a meeting and Grameen Bank founder Mohammad Yunus exited to travel to more meetings.

The main entrance for the Sheraton is along 7th avenue. People are allowed to freely enter and leave through the automatically rotating giant doors, unless they are carrying bags. CGI staff stand alongside the rails directing people carrying bags to an x-ray machine and personal search. Once cleared they are allowed to enter the crowded lobby flanked by an overcrowded Starbucks cafe and a lounge area converted into a pop-up television recording pit.
Continue reading

Better Data will Empower More Women | 

Polio vaccination team member, Sujata Roy, marks a house during a campaign in Balarampota village.
Polio vaccination team member, Sujata Roy, marks a house during a campaign in Balarampota village.
Gates Foundation

(New York) – Melinda Gates and Hillary Clinton agree, better data is vital to achieving lasting women’s empowerment. The gains made over the past few decades are encouraging they said while speaking at the Clinton Global Initiative, but there is still a long way to go.

One of the major obstacles is legal equality. A World Bank report released on Tuesday showed 50 years of gains for women around the world, but said that restrictive laws are harming economic opportunities for women. Though the trend is promising. Legal changes have been made in 44 countries over the past two years that improve economic opportunity for women.

“When women and men participate in economic life on an equal footing, they can contribute their energies to building a more cohesive society and a more resilient economy,” said World Bank President Jim Kim. “The surest way to help enrich the lives of families, communities and economies is to allow every individual to live up to her or his fullest creative potential.” Continue reading

Without more money, it’s the end of the beginning of the end of AIDS | 

Tomorrow is World AIDS Day and most organizations that had something to say about this have already said it.

Most said: “We can end AIDS.”

Flickr, by Roger H. Goun

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for creating an “AIDS-free generation” and on Thursday released the Obama Administration’s blueprint aimed at describing how we can achieve this. Unfortunately, as the Washington Post noted:

The document, however, contains no specific targets or a schedule for achieving them. It also doesn’t estimate how much more money it would cost to reach the “tipping point” in high-prevalence countries, or where the money would come from.

Michele Sidibé, head of UNAIDS (the UN’s program on HIV/AIDS), also released a report and a suggested game plan for ending the AIDS pandemic.

The UNAIDS report celebrated major gains in reducing new HIV infections in many countries, some of them in sub-Saharan Africa, and called for “Getting to Zero” in terms of new HIV infections worldwide. Most of these gains have been in preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV in newborns.

UNAIDS

Michel Sidibé

“It is becoming evident that achieving zero new HIV infections in children is possible,” said Sidibé. “I am excited that far fewer babies are being born with HIV. We are moving from despair to hope.”

Others celebrated some of the scientific gains such as more conclusive evidence that getting people on anti-HIV treatment also prevents the spread of disease by significantly reducing viral loads in HIV-infected persons.

And though a vaccine still seems a distant hope, researchers have made progress and are making headway on the basic immunology in ways that have recently also moved the vaccine community from despair to hope.

ONE

A Positive Trend, new HIV infections vs people getting treatment to prevent AIDS

We can end AIDS. It’s true.

It is also true to say we can end hunger and extreme poverty, if only we put enough resources, talent and political will into those efforts. But we don’t.

And until we put in the effort needed to truly suppress HIV/AIDS, calling for an end to the global AIDS pandemic will be, despite some amazing progress made in the past decade, wishful thinking. Continue reading

What’s the haps in Busan | 

Flickr, juanjolostium

Busan street market

Busan is the second largest city in South Korea and one of the world’s biggest port cities.

If you knew that, maybe you already know about the big “high-level” meeting there this week featuring folks like Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and thousands of other top officials from around the world.

But you probably didn’t. I suspect many Americans likely haven’t even heard of Busan, or much about the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness conference going on there through tomorrow.

This may stem from the fact that many, if not most, Americans fail to understand why civilized, developed nations do foreign aid and overseas development — let alone why top world leaders, activists and others would attend such a wonky sounding meeting in some far-flung Asian city.

My job is to help you understand. It can be difficult, I agree, in part because the language of foreign aid and development is, frankly, awful. Deadly. Dull. Yes it is. But what we’re talking about here is not. This is often about life and death, peace versus war, hope versus despair. How we get a better world.

So I’ve been following the discussions at this meeting, remotely, and largely via The Guardian’s excellent coverage. As Sec. Clinton said in Busan, we do foreign aid and development because it is in our national interest to do so:

“Countries with growing economies are less likely to send refugees streaming across their borders or traffic in arms, drugs or people.”

That’s the standard U.S. political sound-bite anyway: Foreign aid makes us safer.

True enough, but isn’t this a sad state of affairs — that this is the case American politicians think they have to make?

Given the push right now by some in Congress to cut foreign aid (which is only about 1 percent of the budget), it often seems like our leaders shy away from saying this is about helping the world’s poorest. Why is that such a tough case for our government to make? It’s not a tough case for British conservatives or most European leaders to make. I wonder ….

This is the moral imperative angle, which I would say actually has a lot of support in the greater Seattle area where a substantial humanitarian aid and development community is big and getting bigger.

At the Busan meeting, Oxfam is among a number of organizations trying to shame governments and donors to keep their promises on foreign aid. Here’s a great video Oxfam made to make its case for how best to improve foreign aid:

But there are other non-shaming arguments to be made as well in favor of aid and development, such as the economic one. Here’s one such, initially confusing, case that was made by Tony Blair, writing in the Washington Post, on how improving foreign aid can help put an end to foreign aid:

Fifty years ago, the scene in Busan, South Korea, would have been a familiar image of international aid: sacks of grain stacked precariously on a crumbling dockside. The backdrop would have been a country emerging from war and dependent on outside assistance to meet the most basic needs. But when national and development leaders gather in Busan this week to discuss the future of aid, they will see a very different place: the fifth-busiest commercial port in the world, transporting advanced technologies around the globe. This, writ small, is the Korean miracle — the transformation of a country from aid-dependent to aid donor.

This isn’t rocket science. It should be obvious that it is in our economic interest to help other countries improve their lot. Yet, again, for some reason, even this remains a hard sell in the U.S. Continue reading

Clinton calls for “AIDS-free generation,” signs Ellen DeGeneres up to help | 

In a speech at the National Institutes of Health today, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said it is time for the world to “usher in an AIDS-free generation,” calling it a new “policy priority” for the U.S.

Clinton said scientific advances have made it possible to strive for a generation in which “virtually no children” are born with HIV. She added that a “wide range of prevention tools” can help prevent the spread of the virus and that access to treatment can prevent people who are HIV-positive from passing the virus on to others.

Flickr, Gobierno de Guatemala

“Now, HIV may be with us well into the future. But the disease that it causes need not be. This is, I admit, an ambitious goal, and I recognize I am not the first person to envision it,” Clinton said, according to a transcript of today’s speech, which was described by the State Department as the first in a series of remarks from Obama administration officials leading up to World AIDS Day.

“Now we know beyond a doubt if we take a comprehensive view of our approach to the pandemic, treatment doesn’t take away from prevention. It adds to prevention,” Clinton said. “So let’s end the old debate over treatment versus prevention and embrace treatment as prevention,” she added. Continue reading

How should U.S. respond when Somali militants threaten famine relief? | 

UN

Somali mother cradles her malnourished, ill child

The Al-Shabaab Somali militants affiliated with Al Qaida have vowed to continue their attacks on civilians after taking responsibility for a suicide bombing in Mogadishu that has killed anywhere from 70 to 100 people.

The UN refugee agency says this is likely to make the already difficult famine relief effort harder. An estimated 750,000 are at risk of dying from starvation and malnutrition.

CNN reports ‘scores dead’ and that many of those killed were students:

A truck filled with explosives barreled into a government complex in the heart of Somalia’s restive capital Tuesday, a brazen strike killing dozens of people, including students registering for an education program.

As the Boston Globe reports, many had thought the capital city was safe after the militants fled in August: Continue reading