New Podcast: CARE CEO Michelle Nunn's FB Live conversation on gender equality

New Podcast: CARE CEO Michelle Nunn's FB Live conversation on gender equality



I came to DC to take part in the Women’s March and while I was here, I stopped in to visit my friends at CARE.  Even as a longtime CARE advocate, I’m still swept away by CARE’s inclusive optimism. I’m amazed by their ability to see the dire realities in what many people consider to be major challenges, like deep poverty, abrasive social norms, and difficult political climates, and come away with real solutions. Their clarity and vision are inspiring especially during what many consider to be a challenging time for Americans.

During my “drop in” visit, Michelle Nunn, President and CEO of CARE hosted a Facebook Live event with Ambassador Deborah Birx, Coordinator of the United States Government Activities to Combat HIV/AIDS and the U.S. Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy and Carla Koppell, Vice President for the center for Applied Conflict Transformation at the United States Institute of Peace. Previously, Koppell was chief strategy officer for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).  They invited me to listen in and record the event and I was impressed with the message these women sent, not to mention their credentials.

They spoke for almost an hour about the hard work they do specifically to advance gender equity as a solution to the great big challenges we face around the world – hunger, HIV/AIDS, global insecurity, violence…everything.   They were practical, passionate and clear eyed about the challenges we have ahead of us, but they spoke without the doom and gloom narrative that’s been the overriding theme associated with the incoming Administration.  Koppel talked about the importance of collaboration among different stakeholders – non-profits, NGO’s, faith-based organizations, students, citizen advocates and government leaders- in order to collect a set of gains and wins in the foreign assistance and gender equity arenas.  

Birx addressed the tremendous potential for progress we may see as a result of having new eyes in the new Administration and Congress looking at current foreign assistance and gender equity programs and policies. Birx said she’d been through a lot of Administrative transitions and that when new people look at the work you’re so invested in and make suggestions for how you can make it better, at first, it makes you reel because you’ve worked so hard.  Change is tough.  Transitions are hard, but ultimately, they make you stronger. 

Birx also talked about the stories she hears consistently around the world about the stark realities all girls face and the critical need girls articulate for those of us “in the field” to address what’s really happening in their lives.  The whole of it – not just pieces.  For example, Birx talked about the great strides we’ve made in preventing transmission of HIV to children under five and mentioned more than 2 million babies whose lives have been saved since PEPFAR launched under President Bush.  But when that five year old turns 15, her risk for getting HIV is 6 to 7 times greater than boys the same age.  That’s because 15-year-old girls in many parts of the world are no longer in school.  They’re working at home, supporting their families and entirely vulnerable to sexual assault and sexual relationships that put them at risk for HIV. 

Koppell talked about the importance of gender equity for reducing global violence and extremism and its potential for making a positive impact on foreign and national security. She related the importance of improving relationships between young women and men and de-sexualizing young girls.  Koppell said it was a process, but, when you create opportunities for young people to learn peaceful coexistence as men and women, they carry that ‘peace’ into the workplace, home, school setting and eventually into greater society.

I left the Facebook Live event feeling pretty darn good about the days and weeks ahead, grateful for the opportunity to listen in and committed to doing what I can to make a difference.  

Advocate Advocacy Women's March on Washington


Jeanne Faulkner

CARE Advocate


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