As I am in Florida filming the special movie about wonderful Winter, the dolphin with a prosthetic tail (this magnificent creature has her own web cam: seewinter.com), I am slightly behind on blogging. However, today’s op-ed published at CNN.com is enough to motivate me to post a little something right away. The op-ed is one element of a full media package CNN.com is publishing about my recent trip to eastern Congo, with the great John Prendergast of the Enough! Project, and follows up on the interview I gave CNN from Bukavu, South Kiva, while in Congo. There will also be extraordinary video footage posted soon, and links to diaries I wrote about the desperate, yet resilient, people I met, and the grassroots efforts that we can all support to end the mining of conflict minerals and mass rape.
Last week, I had (per usual) an intensely inspiring time at the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative. It is a week I relish. Great advocates, thinkers, emotionally and intellectually invested movers and shakers from around the world descend on NYC during the General Assembly of the UN and for CGI. I was honored to be asked by President Clinton to be on the panel, “Securing the Safely and Health of Girls and Women.” My fellow panelists were key experts and our discussion, moderated by Tina Brown, is online here.
As if that weren’t honor and thrill enough, I am a member of “CGI Lead,” a cohort of 25 world leaders (um, yes….) across sectors under age 45 hand picked by President Clinton for mentoring and to charged with making an appreciable impact on a focus area. As a group, we have chosen refugees, of whom there are 43 million worldwide, 80% of them women and children. Within that sadly enormous population, we are zooming in on refugees (or internally displaced persons, if they have not crossed a national border in their desperate fleeing from violence and instability) in Congo. I am enormously grateful to my esteemed colleague, Zainib Salbi, founder of Women for Women International, for her voice in motivating the cohort to adopt Congo as our impact area. I am thrilled my sisters in the war for gender equality and the abolition of slavery are with me in this group, Ruchira Gupta and Jennifer Buffet. I am keen to get to know my colleagues and to rethink refugees.
CGI is about making and executing commitments that generate real progress toward peace, security, equality. Thus, my CGI Lead cohort wrote our commitment, which we were proud to hear President Clinton read during the big stage, the closing plenary. I had dashed off to Washington DC for my fall Defenders of Wildlife board meeting, and watched this video of the President announcing our commitment (forward to minute 32). And you can read our commitment.
It was a meaningful moment for me. I had stayed up late the night before, using both my personal experience in Congo and my recent graduate degree, contributing to the content and shape of the document. My haunting time in Kiwanjan, Rutshura IDP camp with residents like Tondo Magdelene, Mukamusoni Florence and Mutunzu Angel, all survivors of multiple gang rapes, who conceived in rape and struggle to care for their many children in appaling camps conditions, informed the passion and precision I tried to bring to the Commitment. Espcially, I thought of Furuha Justine, the precious girl in the dirty pink dress I held most of the day.
For you, Furuha Justine. For you.