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Where water and women meet: Mills hosts forum for international dialogue

Delegates from 23 countries gathered at Littlefield Concert Hall on Monday, April 13, for the opening ceremony of Women, Water, and the World: How Women Can Solve the Earth’s Water Crisis, a ten-day series hosted by Mills.

The opening ceremony featured presentations from four female leaders and the creator of Craiglist, followed by a brief question and answer session. Women, Water, and the World: How Women Can Solve the Earth’s Water Crisis is a collaboration between Mills, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and the US State Department. It is also part of the Women in Public Service Project (WSPS), founded by Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2011, which seeks to achieve female representation in 50 percent of political and public office by 2050. 

According to the Mills website, Women, Water, and the World is an opportunity for “shared learning, dialogue, and networking among emerging women leaders from countries working to rebuild their communities, expand their public service orientation, and promote sustainable economic livelihoods.”

At the opening ceremony, speakers discussed water and climate change as a gateway topic to gender equality. It was repeatedly emphasized that water shortage and sanitation predominantly affect and limit women and children.

“If women are going to lead in public service, we need to know about water,” President and CEO of the Wilson Center Jane Harman said.

The impact of water in the lives of women is something that Gemma Bulos, the executive director of the Global Women’s Water Initiative, discussed at length during the event. Bulos became interested in the relationship between water and gender equality after creating The Million Voice Choir, a peace effort that joined people around the world in song. Now she works with The Global Women’s Water Initiative to provide training for women to develop water expertise and solutions in their community.

“It takes a single drop of water to start a wave,” Bulos said. “Educate a man, you train a person; educate a woman, you train a nation.”

The series began Apr. 11 and will conclude Apr. 20, with dialogue and events scheduled throughout the ten-day span. For more information, visit the Mills website.