Fifty by ’50: Women in Public Service Project

Clinton, Albright, Lagarde, Steinem.

These are just a few names that have become synonymous with extraordinary leadership – women who made the commitment to shaping a better world, and whose efforts have led to a world that is newly open for more women to lead. And there are so many more. Last week, more than 700 of those women gathered with Secretary Hillary Clinton ’69 and the Women in Public Service Project’s founding partner colleges—Wellesley, Barnard, Bryn Mawr, Mount Holyoke, and Smith. We joined together to kick off our collaborative effort to foster the world we envision: a world in which political and civic leadership is 50 percent female by 2050.

Presidents, faculty, students and other representatives from the sister colleges convened in Washington D.C. to help the Secretary launch the project. Some of the world’s most influential women joined us: Madeleine Albright ’59, the first woman to serve as U.S. Secretary of State; Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund; Florence Chenoweth, Liberia’s first female Minister of Agriculture; Gloria Steinem, prominent author and activist; Valerie Jarrett, White House Senior Advisor and Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls; and Afitete Jahjaga, the first female President of Kosovo.

The Project is gaining momentum and support and was covered by CNN, Bloomberg News, and USA Today.

I mentioned in my interview with USA Today that as a scientist, I see our efforts to be like dropping a seed crystal onto a Petri dish. A seed crystal is a small beginning, but when you drop it into the right environment, it will spread rapidly, creating many new crystals. Our conviction is that by providing emerging young leaders with the tools, the networks, the training, and the support they need to lead, the process will self-perpetuate, enabling more and more strong women leaders to emerge.

We, the founding partners, see this as only the beginning. We expect many others to be involved. I hope other institutions and individuals will step up to the challenge and join us in investing in the leadership potential of women all over the world.

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