As a prelude to the panel discussion on how helping women helps the world, Kate James discusses the female element at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. James is chief communication officer at the Foundation, which supports education in the US and development across the globe.
"Women and girls are at the heart of so many of the issues that we're working on," James says. A female farmer, for instance, is likely to be up to 30 percent more productive than her male counterpart.
Development is a hugely complex topic with no single solution. That is why how people approach development is incredibly important. "Do you see it as a complex too difficult to tackle? Or do you see it like us, with optimism and with passion?" James asks.
David Rowan next invites Charlotte Oades (The Coca-Cola Company) and Gabriele Zedlmayer (HP) on stage. Oades introduces 5by20, an initiative to enable the economic empowerment of five million women entrepreneurs by 2020. Zedlmayer speaks about how her company is pushing for sustainable, innovative solutions using big data and the cloud.
Rowan asks whether these two women's social engagement isn't just part of the PR strategy of their publicly listed companies. "Absolutely not," says Oades, "it's part of our DNA."
Taking the point a step further, Zedlmayer says a company like HP does not have a choice but to engage in sustainability as the world's resources are not endless.
Rowan's last question to his panel: "If we want people to go back to their work place and start acting and not just thinking about social change, how should they start?" Oades believes the answer is online activity. Zedlmayer says it is by looking inside your company and being prepared to stand up for what you believe in.