In late June, the Generation Equality Forum was held in Paris with 500 prominent figures and 44,000 people tuning in online for it.
More than 100 people were physically present at the three-day event, which saw young women speak openly about their life experiences and session topics that included gender and generation equality, the promotion of parity, and more.
The speaker lineup comprised French President Emmanuel Macron, who opened the ceremony, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, US Vice President Kamala Harris, Hillary Clinton, Melinda Gates, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. There were also stakeholders from civil society, government, and the private sector in attendance, among others.
Discrimination, racism and violence against women were talked about openly and those who spoke were from all over the world, emphasizing the global nature of the problem and how much is yet to be done. More importantly it accentuated the need for concerted efforts, not just from countries’ entities and decision-makers but cooperation from all nations to reach parity goals.
That COVID-19 has pushed everyone to find alternatives to face-to-face meetings has indirectly created a silver lining, and digital platforms have had such a positive impact that they will no doubt still have a place in everyday work once this pandemic is over. Many businesses and organizations have seen an increase in their workload because of the flexibility of communication through the web.
Working together as one is possible. Focusing on an objective is doable. No doubt about it, some issues seem insurmountable to the point that sometimes it is easier to shrug your shoulders and say: ‘Forget it, it will never work,’ or ‘Let someone else deal with it and figure out a solution.’
With regards to the forum, the web enabled the participation of a large number of members from a variety of sectors. It also facilitated the donation of large sums of money to women and gender parity organizations. By the end of the three days, over $40 billion had been donated.
Countries came together as one, various entities from the public and private sectors worked together, and stakeholders and individuals merged to promise contributions to these causes.
It was amazing to see and hear these numbers roll out and it gave optimism and courage to the audience that, by working and giving together, this problem would be eradicated. Hope in humanity is still out there.
Working together as one is possible. Focusing on an objective is doable. No doubt about it, some issues seem insurmountable to the point that sometimes it is easier to shrug your shoulders and say: “Forget it, it will never work,” or “Let someone else deal with it and figure out a solution.”
But, as the famous proverb goes, “Where there is a will, there is a way” regardless of the obstacles, regardless of the immensity of the challenge.
I will conclude by asking one question: Why can’t we also come together as one to eradicate poverty from the world?
• Hoda Al-Helaissi has been a member of the Shoura Council since 2013. She is also a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee within the Shoura.