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Gender and Social Inclusion

Gender Inequality: Global Problem, Local Solutions

I was recently a panelist at a fascinating conference called “Advancing Women: Leadership in Our Lives.” It was sponsored by Thomson Reuters and the Women's Refugee Commission, an organization which through a range of humanitarian efforts seeks to improve the lives and protect the rights of women, children, and youth displaced by conflict and crisis. I'm honored to sit on its board.

My fellow panelists were an amazing group of women with a vast amount of experience dealing with women's issues around the world. Despite our different lives and backgrounds, we're all working toward the same goal: empowering women. A mother struggling to keep her family fed in Sierra Leone, a schoolgirl in Pakistan trying to learn to read in order to advance herself, and a working woman in New York all face gender discrimination of some sort that hampers their ability to control their destinies, and in the most dreadful of situations places their lives at risk.

As I contemplated the panel discussion prior to the event, I was concerned as to how—without seeming shallow, superficial, and self-serving—I could position the challenges faced by a New York career woman alongside those my fellow panelists could speak to. It was remarkable to discover as the evening's discussion unfolded that in spite of the difference in scale involved, on the human level the root causes of the various obstacles we face are remarkably similar. Whether in the corporate world or the world of human rights, certain themes were consistent. We are making little if any progress, and the key to success seems to rest in two areas: giving women the confidence and the voice to lead, and enlisting male leaders in the cause.

And I do believe passionately that a key to solving the most basic human rights issues for women does lie in getting more women into crucial leadership roles in government and corporations. Through laws, sanctions, and various measures, world governments dictate what they believe is required to achieve rightful levels of equality and fairness for all individuals, while corporations hold the keys to funding and influence that can stimulate the changes imposed by governments.

I am very proud to work for Thomson Reuters, a company that as one of the world's leading information providers is helping other people tell their stories, giving a voice to those who have none. And as a board member of the Women's Refugee Commission, I appreciate the Thomson Reuters Foundation as it helps raise awareness and influence change for the disadvantaged by helping to inform, connect, and empower game-changers around the world. It's incumbent upon us to combine our strengths with those of nonprofits and other groups to put an end to gender discrimination and its dire aftereffects. Advocacy comes on many levels: countries, companies, personal. The range of possibilities is enormous. Anything is possible.

Debra Walton is the Chief Content Officer at Thomson Reuters and an executive sponsor of the Thomson Reuters Women's Network.

This blog originally appeared on LinkedIn.

Click here for photos and video of the event.


Gender and Social Inclusion