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By Tiffany Dufu*
I took the helm at The White House Project at an interesting moment for women. Last week’s report from the White House, which Kate Meyer mentioned in yesterday’s post, coupled with a political, economic and social environment that is best described as extremely volatile across the globe, demonstrates how, on this International Women’s Day 2011, we are presented with a unique opportunity.
We have the opportunity to be responsible.
We are facing new challenges in the world—the likes, and severity, of which most of us have never seen. Our challenges are political, economic, social; they are even psychological. Truly, our foremothers and forefathers heralded numerous victories for women in this country, such as getting the right to vote, Title IX, Roe v. Wade. We now boast a workforce full of skilled, educated women. And yes, we’ve had a viable woman candidate for the U.S. Presidency. But all of it still isn’t enough when, in many places in the world, there is no equality, when human rights are still being ignored.
Our problems here are inextricably linked to the problems people face in other countries, and the international community rightfully looks to the U.S. to be a beacon for values. That’s why it’s essential that within our borders, we advance and ensure the well-being of women. We need to embody the principles of human rights, civil rights, social justice, opportunity. We still have entire populations of people that don’t have access to the most basic components of dignity and self-sufficiency. But The White House Project, and its partners, collaborators, and supporters, are looking to change that fact.
Through TWHP’s rural work and work in tribal communities, we reach out to invite unusual suspects to lead. Through our trainings with the International Fellows at the Humphrey Institute for Public Affairs in Minnesota, we seek different perspectives. Through our Global Security initiatives and last year’s START Treaty Summit, we mobilize everyday leaders to make an impact on the world. We want to raise up women who live below the poverty line, by giving them lasting skills and resources. We reach out to young women, who wouldn’t otherwise know the story of how women got this far, in order to inspire them to make the most of their power.
By harnessing the power and ingenuity of millions of women, we can—and will—solve our nation’s toughest problems. We work to put the right people in the leadership pipeline, and make sure they have the support to be courageous. Women’s leadership can’t be about their hair, or their hemline, or their husbands. It’s got to be more agenda, less gender. We must explore new avenues to find better answers, and fast—because we all know that if we don’t act quickly, the mediocre answers will catch up with us first. They always do.
Let’s take today as an opportunity, then, to revive our commitment to responsibility. I’ll start by being responsible for where I am—by making my invitation to you: You, reader, have power. Your impact is as big as you can imagine. And I invite you to take one step—today, on this global celebration of women—toward making your greatest impact.
*In addition to being the new president of The White House Project, Tiffany Dufu is a mother, a wife, and a tirless advocate for the advancement of women and girls, having raised nearly $20 million to date for this cause. Her life's work, in part, is to “help correct the injustices I see that are a result of a society that doesn’t always work for everyone … to empower people with whatever they need to do for themselves and for their children.”
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