This past week, I attended Clinton Global Initiative 2013 as a teen reporter for Girl Up. As one of the only teens of the thousands of people who attended, I now feel as though it is my responsibility to share with the rest of my generation all that I have learned. We are the ones who are inheriting the world, and it’s not only our duty but our unique opportunity to make it a better place. We are the generation whose job it will be to imagine, inspire, and innovate to solve the world’s current problems.
Here are some of the most important lessons that I took away as teen reporter:
Embrace Technology. New technology and trends in technology like making, 3D printing, and big data, are transforming how societies communicate and the ways in which problems are solved.
Cellphones are also a key technology with incredible power. In fact, as Co-Chief Executive Officer of SAP, Bill McDermott mentioned on a panel about vital resources, there are more cellphones in the world than toothbrushes. That statistic speaks volumes to the current day. Basic functions like calling are allowing women and children in the developing world to live more safely day-to-day, and apps are being created for social betterment no matter where you’re located.
Work Together, Not Against Each Other. As President Clinton said, “The potential of getting people together to have a terrific impact is enormous.”
This is what CGI is all about.
Invest in a Girl, Change the World. This logic was brought up throughout almost each plenary session I attended. Giving women all over the world equal access to important resources and opportunities – such as education -- has been shown to benefit both the women themselves and their communities financially.
Through investing in girls and women, we show them that they matter and give them the confidence they need to care more about themselves and make better decisions. As former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton remarked, “When we’re talking about empowering and connecting women, it all comes back to a question of the full and equal participation of women versus their marginalization. When women have opportunities, entire economies expand..”
Act in the Present, But Think of the Future. We have to take action now. If we don’t, the world that future generations inherit will be filled with lingering tensions and inequity across multiple levels. Informing yourself and engaging in conversation is just the first step.
However, keeping the future in mind is necessary. We must collaboratively imagine a future that eradicates poverty, hunger, instability, and inequality and act to make that figment of our imaginations something accessible.
Although the 2015 deadline of the Millennium Development Goals is rapidly approaching, and although they have made a huge impact on the lives of many, there is still much more work to be done. That’s where we have to plan for the post-2015 world with the next development agenda.
Attending the Clinton Global Initiative has allowed me to see that we all have significant influence to make a difference. As teens, we don’t have to wait to make an impact until tomorrow. We can be tomorrow’s generation of leaders today.