By: Alvin Allgood
I am proud to have this opportunity to engage with you all and look forward to our #YALICHAT on investing in women and girls.
Everyone has a role to play when it comes to investing in women and girls. I believe that your generation has already made a mark. You’re known for your curiosity, creativity and refusal to accept systems that no longer work. You see problems and you fearlessly work to create solutions. You use technology to relate in ways we couldn’t have imagined even 10 years ago. You aren’t bound by convention, and you’re not satisfied with just accumulating wealth or power. Maybe more than any generation that’s come before you, you’re motivated to contribute to the larger social good — to do well while doing good.
It’s this motivation that convinces the rest of us that you will improve on the world you’re inheriting, and solve some of the biggest problems we face.
This month the world turns its attention to one of the greatest challenges of our time: the universal inequality that keeps women and girls from achieving their full potential. Each March on International Women’s Day, global organizations, national officials and local leaders recommit to investing in solutions that work. At Vital Voices, this is what we do each and every day.
For more than 18 years, Vital Voices has been investing in women leaders who improve the world. We find women who have a vision for a better world and demonstrate leadership that unites and inspires others. Then we partner with them to help make that vision a reality.
We work with leaders in three key areas: human rights, economic opportunity, and political and public leadership. These women are in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Middle East.
We make long-term investments in each leader and design programs that offer practical skills and services. We connect them with expert advisers for mentoring and collaboration, and support them in telling their stories and sharing their perspectives.
Together, these interventions increase a leader’s capacity and expand her access to opportunity. They enable a leader to accelerate the impact she is having on the ground, realize her vision, and improve not just her community, but the world beyond.
As a member of the YALI Network, you’re linked to more than 130,000 of your peers. You’re part of a community with the potential to educate, motivate and have a lasting impact — both online and off.
I know firsthand the power of a network like yours. Throughout my career, I’ve seen what a determined group of leaders can achieve when they work together toward a shared goal. Before joining Vital Voices, I spent more than 20 years in the education sector innovating, improving and expanding educational services to prevent dropouts and create solutions around problems that have put our youth at risk. This was only possible through collaboration.
What we see every day at Vital Voices is that real leadership leads to collective empowerment. Every woman leader we invest in makes it her mission to reinvest in the rising generation. By sharing access, information and opportunity, the women we partner with are empowering other women and girls. It’s this collaboration and cycle of impact that improves communities around the world.
When you consider making a pledge to invest in women and girls, look first to your fellow network members and think about what you can achieve together.
As you work to strengthen and expand your various entrepreneurial ventures, I urge you to leverage the networks and technology you have available to make ambitious pledges to empower the women and girls in your communities.
I look forward to reading your comments and answering any questions you have during the #YALICHAT.
Alvin Allgood is the chief operating officer of Vital Voices. He has more than 25 years of leadership and management experience, particularly in the education sector. Mr. Allgood is a veteran of the U.S. Army and has earned a bachelor’s degree in advertising and public relations as well as a master’s degree in organizational management.