On February 15, Chevy Chase Trust hosted Women and Progress, an event focused on the advancements women are making in corporate America, politics and breast cancer research. The featured speakers were Ambassador Melanne Verveer, Executive Director of Georgetown University’s Institute for Women, Peace and Security, and Dr. Claudine Isaacs, co-Director of the Breast Cancer Program at Lombardi’s Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Ambassador Verveer began her remarks stating that institutions such as McKinsey & Company and the World Bank have published research showing that women are one of the “most powerful demographic groups the world has ever seen,” and pointed out that women now lead or own a quarter of private businesses globally. Regarding the buying power of women, she noted that if American women were their own country, their GDP would rank fifth globally, just behind Germany.
During her question and answer session with Stacy Murchison, Chief Marketing Officer at Chevy Chase Trust, Verveer highlighted how women –now more than ever– are using their power for purpose. Citing stories from her book, Fast Forward: How Women Can Achieve Power and Purpose, Verveer described how women are critical agents in creating economic growth and social progress. One story she related was about Coca Cola’s efforts to accelerate women into senior operating roles, and its 5by20 initiative that is geared to empower five million female entrepreneurs along its value chain –from agriculture all the way to retail– by the year 2020. Regarding women in U.S. politics, Verveer discussed the relatively low participation here compared with both developed and developing nations, yet acknowledged an increasing desire of U.S. women to create change and gain access to positions in public office.
Melanne Verveer served as the first ever U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, and during the Clinton Administration served as Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff to First Lady Hillary Clinton. She is the co-founder of Vital Voices Global Partnership, an international nonprofit born from the U.S. government’s Vital Voices Democracy Initiative.