Gender Issues Must Move to Heart of Davos Agenda

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A gender-mindful approach should fuel the discourse and agenda at the World Economic Forum, which starts today in Davos, Switzerland, says Roxanne Mankin Cason. This change is possible, as there are people at the forum qualified to lead a new conversation.

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Editor's Note: The following is a commentary. The opinions expressed are those of the author and not necessarily the views of Women's eNews.

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Issues Defy Easy Solutions

World Economic Forum How do we consider these and other vital issues, such as sex trafficking? It isn't easy.

Christine Grumm, CEO of the global Women's Funding Network, cites a term from the field of social and technological innovation in describing these interconnected issues: "the wicked problem," one that defies easy solutions.

Isobel Coleman, writing in the current issue of Foreign Affairs about Nick Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn's groundbreaking book "Half the Sky," reminds us that the fundamental challenge around gender bias is cultural. "Many people in the West," she says, "too often ignore the problems confronting women in other parts of the world by dismissing, or even condoning, the oppressive practices there as those of a different culture." It is safe to say this mindset has been present in Davos.

That is changing, however, and there are those at Davos who are eminently qualified to lead the gathering in a new direction. The Gates Foundation, Exxon Mobil, Ernst and Young, Goldman Sachs, the Nike Foundation and many others are seasoned in integrating gender considerations into the collective conversation. If only others who are present could keep in mind their mothers, sisters, wives, daughters and granddaughters--and extrapolate that awareness into their public thinking. The possibilities are positively breathtaking.

A gender-mindful approach should permeate the discourse at Davos. Let's reframe, rethink redesign and rebuild.

Roxanne Mankin Cason is a Women's eNews 21 Leader 2009 and currently serves as chair of the Global Advisory Education Board and as a trustee of Save the Children.

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Great article and I believe until 'women's issues' become purely a matter of just plain good economics and lose the victim laden title of women's issues, we will always be in that victim mentatlity. And, one correction, anyone who saw the way Rhianna handled her domestic violence issue and the courage and wisdom she stepped forward in and the dramtic, almost monumental increase to calls to domestic violence hotlines, you would have to agree that she played anything but the victim .