Caterpillar and the Caterpillar Foundation are helping to ensure young women are included in global conversations about social and economic development.
More than 100 girls from across the United States gathered in Washington, D.C., June 10-12 for the UN Foundation's second annual Girl Up Leadership Summit. Girl Up gives American girls ages 13-18 the opportunity to raise awareness and funds for programs that help ensure adolescent girls in developing countries have the opportunity to reach their full potential. Through motivational speakers, skills-based workshops and a trip to lobby on Capitol Hill, summit participants developed their leadership skills and became better equipped to support girls around the world.
This year's summit featured Tina Tchen, Chief of Staff to the First Lady and Executive Director of the White House Council on Women and Girls; Zeenat Rahman, Special Adviser for Global Youth Issues, U.S. Department of State; Monique Coleman, actress and Girl Up Champion, and Angelica Fuentes Tellez, CEO of Grupo Omnilife-Chivas. Ann-Marie Padgett, Caterpillar International Advocacy Manager, and Caterpillar Foundation Representative Christa Michaud also participated in the summit. Padgett was part of a panel entitled "Why Cat Machines are Cool," where she discussed the significant role education has played in her life, as well as her professional career at Caterpillar.
"Representing Caterpillar at the UN Girl Up Summit was a wonderful experience. As a child growing up in Jamaica, I truly learned the value of education because I knew that everyone did not have the opportunity to learn. It was a proud moment for me when I learned of all the programs that the Caterpillar Foundation is involved in that support initiatives to educate girls. To work for a company that takes pride in supporting and giving back to the communities where their employees live, makes me proud," Padgett said of her experience.
In April, Michaud traveled with a delegation to Guatemala to see first-hand the impact of Girl Up supported programs in Totonicapan; an indigenous community in the Western Highlands of Guatemala where lack of education, and early childhood marriage and pregnancy plague many adolescent girls. Michaud introduced Girl Up Teen Advisors Sofia Stafford and Annie Gersh to discuss their experience and perspective on the trip.
Following the Girl Up Leadership Summit, Caterpillar and the Caterpillar Foundation took part in the G(irls)20 Summit in Moscow, Russia. The G(irls)20 Summit brought together one delegate from each G20 country, plus a representative from the European Union and African Union to discuss an agenda similar to that of G20 leaders. The focus of this year's summit was Jobs, Growth and Investment, and over the course of a week, delegates debated, discussed and designed innovative ideas necessary to improve the growth of communities, countries and companies by empowering girls and women globally.
JP Bekkering, general manager of Global Accounts in Caterpillar Global Mining, discussed with the delegates the opportunities and challenges facing the mining industry, and the important role girls and women can play in contributing to the industry's long-term sustainability, especially through technological innovation.
"I was really impressed with the participants who at this young age, and for many in a foreign setting, were articulating sharp questions to help wrap their heads around many challenging issues, in order to see how they could be tackled," Bekkering said. "There seemed to be a great atmosphere between them and I sensed a great willingness to absorb, learn and do something with all the information in order to make progress for them and other girls and women in the world!"
Bekkering continued, saying, "This opportunity also gave me a perspective of all the great work Caterpillar is supporting with regards to the gender issue and diversity as a whole through the Caterpillar Foundation. I was proud to see that Caterpillar was represented so well in this event, and I was proud to represent Caterpillar."
Caterpillar Vice President of Mining Sales & Support Chris Curfman published a blog on the Huffington Post about Caterpillar's participation in the G(irls)20 Summit. In addition, Ekaterina Lubina, Sales Operations Rep for Caterpillar Eurasia, shared with the delegates her career growth at Caterpillar in Moscow. Caterpillar Engineering Talent Pipeline Manager and President-Elect of Society of Women Engineers, Stacey DelVecchio, published a blog on Huffington Post discussing how different the world would be without her smart and compassionate engineering girlfriends and the impact the G(irls)20 Summit can have on future leaders.
At the conclusion of the summit, the delegates presented a communiqué with solutions and suggestions to Ksenia Yudaeva, President Putin's Chief G20 advisor. The communiqué is also expected to be shared with other G20 leaders.
Caterpillar Inc. supports the philanthropic efforts of the Caterpillar Foundation. Founded in 1952, the Caterpillar Foundation has contributed more than $550 million to help make sustainable progress possible around the world by providing program support in the areas of environmental sustainability, access to education and basic human needs.