"If you educate a woman, you educate a generation" - that's one adage the president of the State of the World Forum, Jim Garrison, adheres to.
"Investing in Women" is one of the six strategic initiatives that are to be the focus of this year's Forum. Although it's scheduled to be the final session of the six-day Forum, Dr Garrison, in an interview on Monday, was quick to dispel any suggestion that the session was a token add-on. He said the session was there to conclude the Forum as its closing event.
He says experience shows that by empowering women, one can change families, communities and even nations, because it lowers the birth rate and controls the world's population; it improves education and hygiene, and it lowers the crime rate. "What we are trying to do in the women's initiative is to look at the multitudes of ways to empower women. Because if you had only one "bullet", and could target only one global issue that would make the most difference, and cause the least amount of pressure, it comes down to empowering women."
Doctor Jim Garrison says about half of the forum's one thousand delegates, and over one hundred-plus speakers, are women. To name only a few of those many notable women who are active in women's rights - they include Iran's Minister of Women's Affairs from 1976 to 1978 (pre-Revolution) Mahnaz Afkhami, who's now one of the Forum's co-moderators and the president of the Sisterhood Is Global Institute; Khadija Haq, is the Executive Vice President of the Human Development Center in Pakistan; and Sima Wali, who's the founder of Refugee Women in Development in Afghanistan.
The forum will be looking at developing an initiative that looks at how to change traditional structures and ideologies that oppress women, and how to take women's views from the margins and promote them into the mainstream. Sunday's session, which looks particularly at the empowering women initiative, will show how investing in women makes it easier to reach many social, economic and environmental goals, through the narratives and experiences of those who have fought long and hard for women's rights.