Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

5 Things We Hope Will Inspire Everyone to Help Change the World

September 24, 2013

The 3-day Social Good Summit, happening in New York City (with smaller meet-ups and live-streamed around the world), is like a giant laboratory for social change. As world leaders meet at the UN to engage in high-level discussions about how to end extreme poverty, the Social Good Summit allows “regular people” to engage in dialogue on these same issues—using social media and technology as tools for change.

Hundreds of advocates, scientists, technologists and communicators (thousands if you include those “tuning in” via social media) come together to talk about the newest, craziest, most interesting and most effective ways to create social change globally. As you can imagine, excitement and energy run high.

We’re heading into the final day of the Summit so we thought we’d share some social good highlights so far—and give everyone inspiration for continuing to fight to improve the health and lives of the poorest people in the world. (And, by the way, don’t worry if you’re unsure about that phrase: social good. The Armchair Advocate defines it for you here.)

  • Did you know that 84% of Millennials in the U.S. think it’s their duty to help the world become a better place? It’s true. But this young generation isn’t just about voting every 4 years. Young people are interested in new, innovative ways to create change globally through, for example, “conscious consumption” (purchasing products that make a difference like TOMS shoes or Warby Parker eyewear). What are your most creative thoughts for changing the world? Share below!

  • There’s more interest in global health than ever before. It’s what Barbara Bush told Summit participants yesterday. The founder and CEO of Global Health Corps spoke yesterday about an effort in Burundi to raise interest in sex-ed in hard-to-reach communities by putting on public flash mobs. It’s all part of her organization’s mission to improve global health in poor countries by placing professionals in the US with fellows in poor countries to work with global health groups. You think an architect in the US can’t do something to improve global health in sub-Saharan Africa? Think again, says Bush.

  • Malala. At this point, it’s almost unnecessary to write more than her name. But there is more to share. The 15 year old girl launched her group, Malala Fund, into the Twittersphere today and spoke at the Summit as well. With a quiet, centered speech, Malala spoke from the heart and soul about her quest to educate girls (and boys): “My dream is to see every girl educated, in every country.”

  • Technology can be a powerful connector. Melinda Gates spoke at the Summit today and in her usual commanding way, she immediately brought it back to people: women, children, and families. She spoke about her own journey towards fully understanding the depth of child mortality and extreme poverty, when she met families in India and Thailand struggling with both. But that, with technology and tools used well, we can all move from understanding to action: I think we have the power today with the technology in our hands that not everyone will have to take a flight to Africa or India or Thailand," she says. "We can connect people to those stories, and get people to move to action. That's my hope."

  • +SocialGood. There are so many people, speakers at the Summit and attendees, working hard and with exhaustive creativity, to do amazing things in service to changing the world for the better. We can’t list them all but we want to highlight the +SocialGood platform because it’s a way to continue the conversation, and continue the action, after the Summit is done and the doors are closed. Ambassador for the new platform, Maria Ressa, founder of the news and action site, Rappler.com, sums it up perfectly: “If each of us takes one small action, millions of us can do what one can never do alone. You are heroes.”
 
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