“The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have been part of my human compass and are fueling the energy of my soul. The SDGs are my declaration of interdependence.” – Tsegga Medhin
Huddled over breakfast, tables pushed together, 30 sets of eyes stare intently in one direction. Tsegga Medhin is sharing her story; today she is the “pivot person” for the Human SecurityX Fellows power breakfast.
Tsegga is on a mission: the empowerment of women and girls. She is the President of UN Women USNC and Founder of The Pearl Leadership Institute (TPLI). She is the recipient of the US Gold Award from Presidents Obama and Bush, and IBM’s Diversity and Inclusion Leader. As her bio states, she recently led the development of emerging global leaders for Africa’s skills gap initiative, LEADing to Africa and worked at the YALI summit, (Young Africa Leadership Initiatives) in Washington, D.C.
Tsegga believes that the “Pivot People” in her life, the “mentors, coaches, shapers, and especially my two daughters,” have helped her become more agile and equipped to make a difference by being the difference. She shared this recipe for empowerment and growth:
- Live in the “thrive” moment;
- Create a women’s circle (find kindred spirits);
- Self care;
- Accept failure; and,
- Be comfortable to be uncomfortable.
That morning, I watched as Tsegga shared her story. This participation in oral storytelling was providing pivotal keys to the participants. The generosity and kindness of Tsegga sharing her story is emblematic of her belief in fostering the unique power of those around her, interdependence of communities, and her dedication to the ongoing work of the Global Goals.
Two weeks later and on another continent, Tsegga and I chatted about her work and what drives her, as she says, her “human compass.”
EH: How do you see women as leaders, drivers, and changemakers in the global goals?
TM: I believe women have always been seed sowers. They leverage their voices to make sure they sit at the table to influence change and inspire leadership in action for self, family and community. This is essential for the SDG’s core values — prosperity, peace for people and planet through private and public partnership.
I agree that, globally, women have made some tactical progress that must continue for the next 12 years until 2030. However, a long term strategy beyond the #MeToo movement is needed through mentoring, coaching, promoting and educating to permanently break gender equity barriers. We must also educate parents as to how to raise our boys so they can become champions for change.
EH: Which SDGs stand out to you as the most crucial in your work? Why these?
TM: I believe the SDGs are our declaration of interdependence and human GPS, a road map to help us explore new ways to promote prosperity and take on challenges in our communities. SDG 4, (education) SDG5 (Gender Equality) and SDG17 (Partnership) are the ones that I am aligned with more because they challenge the narrative of women empowerment for prosperity, peace, and people through a strong private/public partnership.
EH: How does your work in these SDGs help accomplish the entirety of the Global Goals?
TM: In 2010, I founded The Pearl Leadership Institute (TPLI) to add value to societal advancement leveraging women and girls with STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) career objectives.
We value science, because that is where the living wages are. They are critical for women’s economic empowerment. The arts enable effective problem-solving and use innovative thinking to drive economies forward. TPLI hosts and sponsors three free summer camps for sixty marginalized girls, as well as four women leadership workshops on growth, financial and health wellness.
EH: What are the driving forces in your work?
TM: The SDGs have been part of my human compass and are fueling the energy of my soul since May 2015, when I was invited to speak at the UN SDG 2030 stakeholders meeting. I choose to speak on behalf of women and girls’ education and empowerment. The SDGs are my declaration of interdependence as they are all trying to achieve peace and prosperity for people and planet through a strong private/public partnership.
My transformative experience at Caux Forum: Just Governance for Human Security this summer as a speaker, trainer, and facilitator will continue to be a key driver to consistently support women and girls. After all, they are our mothers and daughters, sisters and aunts, cousins and friends. I believe the outcome of this inspired action will add sustainable value in the development of changemakers and GlobalShapers.
Tsegga is a Human Capital Consultant. She sees the potential and asks the hard questions to shape her young proteges. She unlocks this potential in others and, at the same time, herself. Listening to Tsegga, I could see the power of one story. One individual taking the time to tell her story; one person taking the time to see hidden potential others and be a Pivot Person in helping them draw out their own potential.
As we cleared the table, I asked Tsegga about her work, she simply said, “This is my work, I will BE the difference.”