The Future Women Want – Leaders Summit for Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment for Sustainable Development.
A powerful panel of Woman Leaders is sitting in front of me. The Women Prime Ministers of Denmark, of Australia, and Jamaica, the Presidents of Brazil, Costa Rica, Finland and Lithuania are sitting on the stage, the former prime ministers of Finland, Ireland and Norway are sitting in the first row. They are all women. The President of Jamaica H.E. Ms Portia Simpson Miller is now speaking addressing her prime ministers and former prime ministers colleagues as her sisters in spirit.
She speaks with inspiration on how to empower women and girls the world over. She explains the essential link between sustainable development and poverty reduction, the critical role played by women and girls, and their empowerment. There is a reason why the Earth is called Mother. She provides for us. But at her time of need, like with a mother, we must take care of her.
The Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning–Schmidt addresses the gathering, wondering how many Einsteins' and Steve Jobs' we have missed by not giving opportunities to girls. Without the full and equal involvement of women there will never be sustainable development.
H.E. Ms. Gro Harlem Brundtland, the former Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Norway is calling her younger generations of women leaders to action: Don't just wait, ACT, See you in action!
Sister Jayanti and Sonja Ohlsson from the Brahma Kumaris are sitting in the totally full hall in Rio Centro at a high-level program arranged by UN Women and moderated by Ms. Michelle Bachelet, the Under-Secretary- General and Director of UN Women. After the program Sister Jayanti had the opportunity to re-connect with Ms. Helen Clark from New Zealand, chair of the UN Development Group. Sonja Ohlsson talked about the practice of meditation with H.E. Ms. Dalia Grybauskaité, President of Lithuania.
After The Future Women Want, the BK group met H.E. Mr. Nick Clegg, deputy Prime Minister of UK in the courtyard of Rio Centro. He was there to give an interview to the press. Sister Jayanti took the opportunity to present Brahma Kumaris material to him. He was very interested and he shared that he previously used to practice meditation.
92-gruppen and Grundfoss in Denmark organized a meeting on how to work across the areas of the private sector, NGO's and politicians in the Danish Exhibition stand in Athletes Park. Troels Dam Christensen, chairperson for the Danish Environmental Umbrella organization – 92-gruppen – asked the gathering of Danish members of parliament how they could implement sustainability in Denmark. Representatives from Grundfoss and Novozymes spoke about the green economy being the way forward . . . but how to keep the Danish perspective on the green economy back in Denmark?
Sonja Ohlsson, coordinator of the Brahma Kumaris in Denmark shared her experience of Rio + 20. She felt that this was the first environmental conference with deeper and more open discussions of ethics, and the recognition, by many, that we must change our way of thinking if we are to get different, more sustainable results. She also highlighted the importance of implementing awareness raising tools. She felt this was a very good experience and she hoped it would create more open discussion about this topic back in Denmark.
Pavillion of Brazil Government
At 1:30 Mrs Gleisi Hoffmann, Chief Minister from the Federal Government called to meet with Sister Jayanti. Gleisi has been a friend of the Brahma Kumaris for the last 8 years and has visited the Brahma Kumaris at their retreat centre in Oxford, UK and in Madhuban (BKWSU Spiritual HQ in India). Sister Jayanti specially inspired her to keep the attitude of being an instrument for a great task, and to take power through silence and meditation when making her decisions. Sister Jayanti also underlined the importance of keeping her loyalty to truth independent of the circumstances.
Brahma Kumaris Youth at Rio Centro
Juan, Kamila and Abishek led a meditation at the main entrance from 8:30am to 9:30 am, two mornings in a row. The second morning there was a significant increase in the number of participants.
At 11. am: Sustainable Futures: Accelerating Progress on the MDGs through Youth Innovations. (MDG Millennium Development Goals) organized by United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) was held. Over 300 people attended.
The speakers were a youth representing a youth led organization; Professor Yunus on Social business, YY tour, micro finance; Professor Jeffrey Sachs; Marina Silva, Environmentalist, Activist, politician and Former Environment Minister; Judith Diers, UNICEF Adolescent Development and Participation Unit; Bharati Chaturvedi, Chintan; Judith Rodin of the Rockefeller Foundation, Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook, Muhammad Yunus of Grameen Bank, and Melanne Verveer, the U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women.
The event focused on youth as agents of change and catalysts in achieving the MDGs and beyond, with a focus on innovations that are youth driven dealing with sustainable development. Marina Silva, Former Environment Minister, said, "the results would be achieved if they were more committed and less ambitious".
14:00 The Youth gave Interview for TV Globo News talk about the movement "SD Needs Peace" with Kamila and Juan from the Brahma Kumaris and youth from Oceania, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Americas.
The Rights of Mother Nature
The President of Ecuador was the main panellist of this conference and he expressed his advocacy for the rights of nature through preservation. He said that we all have to be Eco responsible but primarily the countries that have greater pollution like the USA. The most polluting countries have to compensate the world for their carbon footprint. He also said that there should be a distribution of wealth to help the eradication of poverty, which is why in Ecuador they are looking to invest in renewable energy. What I loved most about this session was a sentence that is now written in their constitution of Pacha-mama that: "granted nature the right to "exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles, structure, functions and its processes in evolution". This spiritual perspective is a most respectful and sacred way to regard Mother Earth.
Foundations for a Life-Sustaining Economy: Moving from a Paradigm of Domination to Cooperation with Nature. This People's Summit side event was organized by the Global Peace Initiative of Women and had speakers representing different religious and spiritual backgrounds. Rev. Richard Cizik, President, New Evangelicals for the Common Good, USA; Zarko Andricevic; Chan Buddhist Teacher, Croatia; and Sraddhalu Ranade, Scientist and Sri Aurobindo Scolar, India; and Ken O'Donnell, Author, Brahma Kumaris.
The aim of the conversations was to look at the fundamental shift in thinking required to move from a relationship of domination over nature to one of cooperation. To reshape our global economy into one that is sustainable, this mindset is critical. The Question posed was: How do we envision this paradigm shift?
Ken O'Donnell from the Brahma Kumaris spoke of how around the same time as the Rio Summit 20 years ago the Brahma Kumaris had done a project called Visions of a Better World and when people were asked "what is your vision of a better world?" Ken was encouraged by seeing that people from everywhere want the same things; love, peace, respect for all, education, happiness and prosperity and to live in harmony with their environment, to name a few. However the essence of what we all want often remains hidden and can be difficult to reach through words, even though everyone has the knowledge of what they want - touching that experience can be illusive. When people get directly engaged and have an experience, this is what makes the difference. (He gave the example of UNILEVER taking their top executives into Sri Lanka after the Tsunami to help the community, hands on, to rebuild). We have lists of what we should be doing, for example; we have declarations, the Ten Commandments, and Charters and the potential for change is there, but we can only reach this when we become engaged.
Dinner with Ms Leilane Neubarth, journalist and TV News Presenter and Ms Zelia Duncan, singer. About 50 people gathered to listen to Sister Jayanti speak on the subject of: From Fragmentation to Unity. Amongst the Brazilian guests were artists, business people, and different high-level professionals. Representatives of Global Peace Initiative of Women (GPIW) were also present. Zelia Duncan enchanted the participants with three very beautiful and spiritual songs.