I’m back from Zurich. Luckily with my bag. My mission in Switzerland was sadly thwarted by the disappearance of my luggage. One bag is all I brought but in it contained my clothing, toiletries and most importantly, materials for One Young World. I was in Zurich for one reason and one reason only – to work. So the absence of my bag made that impossible. I was forced to wait for a day and a half. Waiting. It is my least favourite thing to do. And so in a somewhat poorly timed trick, the universe was asking me to grow patient.
Arriving with a third left in Day 2 of the One Young World Summit may not have changed the ultimate outcome of how we were able garner interest in Sprout. Thankfully delegates flooded our booth once it was set up. Questions. Ideas. Collaborations. All of it was great.
We ended our day with a stroll near Lake Zurich and dinner in the company of Pekka Himanen, co-founder of Global Dignity Day and philosopher extraordinaire. We were helping Jennifer brainstorm a little on what she would say during her 3 minute speech at the Women Up session the following day. During our chat over Mediterranean fare, I realized something that I have never before appreciated. The greatest influence throughout my childhood and formative years on acceptance and appreciation of myself as a woman, has not been my mom. Although she has been a constant role model, it is really my dad who had the greatest influence over how I saw and continue to see myself as a woman. As a child, he saw and treated me with the respect I deserved as an individual. In his eyes, I was always a person first. What a revelation!
Day 3 of the Summit was a big day for us since Sprout was getting special mention during the Women Up Session by none other than Counsellor Jennifer Corriero. Jennifer was fantastic as always. And I experienced a really important moment in my own evolution as a change agent and committed truth illuminator.
Fatima Bhutto kicked off the Women Up Special Session with a poignant commentary on the issue of gender equality. At a conference that was rampant with idealism and myopia, her words rang true like a clock tower bell sounding off in my head. Maybe everyone else wanted to hear someone say women are the better leaders, more peaceful gender, the bearers of all good in this world. But I just wanted to hear someone call it like it is. If we are actually going to succeed in “fixing leadership”, somebody’s got to be willing to step up and do it.
Women do not make better leaders by virtue of their gender. If we are really to address gender inequalities in the world, then we need to look beyond gender to human spirit. A visionary once said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” The content of a person’s character is paramount to their gender, race, ethnicity, etc… Bhutto pointed out example after example of women leaders from political dynasties in some of the most challenged regions of the world guilty of heinous acts of violence and terror. Yes, she did it. She burst the bubble. And followed with what I feel could be a new foundation on which to build a dialogue about gender issues: “Gender cannot be a substitute for ethics.”
Switzerland was a trip. (Pun intended.) I couldn’t leave without filling an order for Swiss chocolate. And although I nearly missed my connecting flight at Charles De Gaulle airport (the worst in the world!) in Paris to Toronto, I made it home safe and sound to be greeted by some early Fall weather – cool and crisp. What better way to start September than with lots of excellent lessons learned in travel and life.