By Darcy Nelson, Master’s student at Thunderbird School of Global Management
WE Empower UN SDG Challenge lead partner Vital Voices is in Phoenix this week to celebrate the 25 new fellows in their political leadership program VV Engage. The fellowship is geared to advance women’s public leadership and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The program is supported by Vital Voices' partnership with Freeport-McMoRan, the global mining company based here in Phoenix.
Tuesday evening, at ASU downtown Beus Center for Law and Society, Vital Voices hosted a public panel discussion featuring women political leaders from around the world. Included in the panel was VV Engage Fellows and politicians Isata Kabia of Sierra Leone and Seni Nabuou of Fiji, former Presidents Dalia Grybauskaitė of Lithuania and Laura Chinchilla Miranda of Costa Rica, and Freeport-McMoRan’s Tracy Bame, moderated by Vital Voices President and CEO Alyse Nelson, and introductions by Executive Director, Thunderbird for Good, ASU Kellie Kreiser.
The panel discussed what it was like to be the first women leaders, the importance of believing in yourself and demonstrating authenticity, and how difficult it is to challenge cultural and societal norms. It was a very powerful panel discussing flowing with inspirational sentiments that demonstrated the real impacts that women have when they lead in politics. Possibly the most powerful impact that these women had on their community was changing a paradigm that women are public leaders.