Lauren Garey

At the closing ceremony, the passion for change was palpable.

We all wrote a commitment of what we will do after the summit to make a difference, and then we tied the ribbons together and fed them forward to the stage to make a large ball. My commitment was to ‘become a role model for women in Financial Services and to bring other women up with me.’ As we all read each other’s promises and goals then tied them together, it became increasingly evident that they all remain interconnected. 

As the line of ribbons passed through my hands to the front, I thought of an African proverb which we heard at the Summit: ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.’ With the One Young World network, I am confident that as Gandhi recommends, we can be the change we wish to see in the world.

The following day I had 12 hours on my flight back to London for reflection. Initially I felt overwhelmed by the plethora of problems discussed and the troubling statistics and stories shared at the Summit. I recalled two lessons shared with us:

·       ‘Responsibility = response. Cynicism is the lowest form of responsibility’ –Paul Polman, CEO Unilever

·       ‘Do not sit shocked, be shocked into action' –Kate Robertson, Co-Founder OYW & Group Chairman, Havas UK

With this reinforcement of optimism, my doubts quickly dissipated to be replaced with an internal sense of responsibility and stewardship – a need to carry forward all that I learned and heard, a requirement to share the stories and lessons with others, and an undeniable call for collaborative action with other delegates.

One of the final moments from the Summit resonates with me to this day. Nelson Mandela’s wife, Winnie Mandela, came to bid us farewell. She closed with a South African rallying cry from the Apartheid of ‘Amandla!’ and asked the crowd to respond with ‘Awethu!’ ‘Power! Power to the People!’ – 1200 of us shouted together, uniting voices from 190 countries, in a moment of global empowerment. In that moment, optimism was the oxygen we breathed, change makers were abundant, and it was clear to us all that there is no better time to create a better world.