Conference promotes women's empowerment

A women's empowerment conference, "Global Women's Initiative: Creating the Ripple Effect," will be held Thursday at the Loews Atlanta Hotel, bringing together some of the most powerful women in business, education and  nonprofits.

The one-day conference is expected to draw 500 people and raise awareness about the issues surrounding women, including economic empowerment, education, literacy, health, hunger and human rights.

"All of the great studies have shown that if women are economically empowered, not only does the woman's conditions improve, but also the life of her family, the life of her community and the life of the nation improves," said Elisabeth L. Marchant, founder and chief executive of Atlanta-based Womenetics Inc., organizer of  the conference.

Melanne Verveer, ambassador to the U.S. Department of State's office of Global Women's Issues, will be the keynote speaker, discussing the global status of women and this country's efforts to help women worldwide. Other speakers include Wenchi Yu, Global Women's Issues policy advisor; Janine Maxwell, co-founder of Heart for Africa; and Nell Diallo, MedShare vice president for corporate and international relations.

Marchant recently talked about the conference and how to empower women:

Q. When you talk about empowerment, will that come from the business or nonprofit sectors?

A. We're convening multi-stakeholders and those stakeholders are members of the corporate community, the academic community, the nonprofit community and experts in the public policy arena. ...One of the speakers is Swan Paik, who's the portfolio director for the Nike Foundation. The Nike Foundation improves the lives of young girls around the world. Another speaker is Marika McCauley Sine. She is very engaged in a new project that Coca-Cola just announced called "5 By 20." What they're doing is empowering five million new women-owned businesses by 2020. It's a combination. Everybody has to be engaged in the conversation and it's not just a conversation for women. It's a conversation for men.

Q. Why are you doing this in Atlanta?

A. We've been asked this question and I've said, why not Atlanta?  We have the busiest airport in the world, we have the headquarters of some of the world' largest corporations, UPS and Coke, and this is the headquarters of several large international NGOs (non-governmental organizations) like CARE, the American Cancer Society and Habitat for Humanity. ... My feeling is that this is where this belongs.

Q. What happens when the meeting is over?

A. One of the goals we have is that Womenetics is not going to stop working on these issues after the day is over. When people come out of the meetings, they will be able to say, "Oh my gosh, I am passionate about the issue around health or education, and here is an NGO that is making it happen." There will be a resource fair where there will be NGOs there who are working on these issues globally. They will be able to build relationships with people and build advocacy with those groups. There will be continuing editorial content covering these issues and people can create relationships with other key stakeholders though our Web site.

If you go

When: Thursday, 11 a.m.

Where: Loews Atlanta Hotel

Cost: $125, or $1,100 for table of 10.

For more information: www.womenetics.com. Registration is available at the door or call (404) 376-1694.