Buddhist Alliance Meeting China
I couldn’t believe how beautiful it was driving two hours west of Beijing to the first Buddhist Alliance meeting in China – a group aiming to increase understanding between different sects of Buddhism. Many attendees were old friends from previous lecture invites at natural healing conferences in China. My friend Professor Fucius, beside me in the picture, is hoping to take the Alliance one step further with interfaith alliances, to bridge the cultural gaps which can lead to some of the problems we see in this huge country.
I was honoured to be the only Westerner in this gathering and delighted to meet such luminaries as the head of the Chinese Lau Tse Association, head of Buddhist and art association, and UN representatives. In the scenic limestone park we enjoyed many delicious meals and conversations before I headed back for the opening ceremony of the 2010Global Summit of Women.
Global Summit of Women
The last time I had attended this international conference, aimed at promoting women in business and economically, was in Cairo. This year the leading topic was “women at the forefront of change’, focused on corporate ‘diversity’, of sex and race. Ten years ago we were told at this conference (by economists)that women are 52% of the population, do 60% of the work, and own less than 1% of world assets. Had things improved?
This year in Beijing, walking into the first breakfast meeting, it was great to recognise familiar faces one of whom was Anne Sherry, ex CEO of bank of Melbourne then Westpak bank. She has now moved out of finance to run Carnival Cruise group. Anne told me that her company is one of the very few that had made a significant profit in the past recession laden two years and she’s sure it’s because her executive board make diversity of sex and culture a priority – very heartening!
2010 prominent ladies were Rosie Rios, the US treasurer; senior representatives of corporations such as IBM, and the Herald Tribune; Shuping Li, vice president China; Dr Maude Olofsson, deputy prime minister of enterprise and energy, Sweden; First Lady of Tanzania, Slma Kilwete; Minister of women for Chile, Hon Carolina Schmidt; vice president of Vietnam, Hon Nguyen Thi Doan, and many more ..
The conference starts with a ministerial ‘round table’ for heads of state to share ‘best practices’. So often in life, or governments, something effective has been found to make headway in a difficult area. How often do others in different cultures learn from this? Never…. However one of the unique features of women is their ability to share and learn from each other. Major companies have now been surveyed in 45 countries and the findings showthat women make up less than 10% of company directors. This is the dismal reality of access of women to board appointments. Hong Kong leads the ways in the Asia Pacific region, with 8.9%, just ahead of Australia, India, 5.1%, Japan 1.4%. The US faired better at 15.2%, with Saudi Arbia at 0.1%
As Mao Zedong famously said, ‘Women hold half the sky’…and then added..’and the world is ruled by men’!!
We learned that legislation has to lead any real change, from the Hon Maude Olofsson, deputy prime minister of energy in Norway; thanks to quotas introduced in 2008 women now make up 44.2% of boardrooms.
From breakfast to dinner we had meetings about global trends and ‘hot topics’ such as how to link third world endeavors in business/NGO/government successfully, with sharing of ideas and experience. Something one would have thought happened naturally, but doesn’t!
From world bank experts we were told of research proving that for each year of extra schooling undertaken by third world women ,their income increases by 10-20%. This ONE year of extra schooling multiplies out to increase GDP by almost 1%.
HR experts from corporates such as Marriot, Boeing and Standard Chartered repeated that the biggest problem for women was their lack of self belief. Women were happy to be quietly brilliant, hoping some how to be ‘spotted’! WE had to take a leaf out of men’s book and blow our own trumpet!
‘Hope is not an action plan’
IN the US 43% of private firms are owned by women. Sadly, many of these women come from corporate who are losing this fantastic skill set because of gender inappropriate policies….
On a personal note, it makes sense for me to attend those conferences on women’s issues as most of the speakers are experts on diversity, in gender, age and culture. My work and book, ‘Medical to Mystical’, whilst cunningly disguised as a self-help book,(!!) is based on oneness, that is that all things are connected at a deep level. I believe that most problems in the world are due to the misperception of separateness – in people leading to wars and genocide, with the Earth the neglect we see.