The La Pietra Coalition grew out of a gathering at NYU’s Villa La Pietra in
October, 2009, convened by Vital Voices Global Partnership and New York University with the support of Paul E. Singer Family Foundation. Held in anticipation of the 15th anniversary of the 1995 UN 4th World Conference on Women in Beijing, some 50 participants assessed the current status of women, the progress made since 1995, and the obstacles to women’s empowerment and challenges to gender equality.
The consensus was overwhelming: The world had reached a moment when the time is right to take major steps to support women’s advancement. Further, the moment demanded that a diverse group of leaders, such as those convened, move forward as a coalition to develop strategies and programs to tap women’s under-utilized potential as entrepreneurs, workers and consumers. At the same time, they also recognized that women are a stabilizing force in their societies and that governments should seek to bring about change that both makes possible and leads to women’s economic growth, contributing to their own nation’s economic strength.
A second meeting in October 2010, also in Florence, galvanized the Coalition around a specific agenda and established main policy areas intiatives. The task of forming a new global coalition of individuals from diverse disciplines and agreeing upon common goals that were both important and achievable, was bolstered by a partnership the Coalition formed with the Economist Intelligence Unit whose recently published Women’s Economic Opportunity Index provided a policy framework and structure very much in concert with the goals set at the formative meeting.
By the end of the October 2010 meeting, the Coalition had articulated its goals for the Breakthrough Decade: “equality in law; equality in business; equality in learning; equality in jobs” by 2020. And for the coming year of 2011, the Breakthrough Year, it determined to bring the message, “empowering women is smart economics” to the G20 and have the member states put it on their agenda.