Loading... please wait

Strengthening Democracy Through Civic Leadership | Mainstage

Programming Partner:

The Policy Circle e1635342418548 - Strengthening Democracy Through Civic Leadership | Mainstage

Dr. Kerry Healey, President, Milken Center for Advancing the American Dream; Concordia Leadership Council Member
Sylvie Légère, Board Chair and Co-Founder, The Policy Circle
Dambisa Moyo, Principal, Versaca Investments
Wendy Woods, Vice Chair and Managing Director & Senior Partner with Boston Consulting Group


The past decade has seen democratic backsliding in all regions of the world. Sylvie Légère, Board Chair & Co-Founder of The Policy Center, opened the panel with the idea that the challenge to strengthen democracy requires civic leadership, and women must be appropriately represented at the table in order for democracy to remain strong. 

For Dambisa Moyo, Principal at Versaca Investments, democracy suffers from two central problems: a myopic view of the short term at the expense of the long view, and a general lack of participation in suffrage and the democratic process. Wendy Woods, Vice Chair and Managing Director & Senior Partner with Boston Consulting Group, stressed that corporate responsibility relies on companies thinking broadly over the long term about their impacts on the world. They must serve stakeholders, not only shareholders, developing full, engaged workforces to strengthen communities. Engaged workforces are twice as productive, and including women improves engagement. The American dream, said Dr. Kerry Healey, President of the Milken Center for Advancing the American Dream, is the idea of America that inspires a belief in agency without interference, often through business. The Center’s mission is to close the gap between that idea and the reality that often falls short. Specifically for women, whose workforce participation was deeply affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, access to capital is of paramount importance.

Légère asked the panelists how they would best create an environment of empowerment. Moyo suggested investment in Africa and in other developing regions where returns on financial investment and environmental, social, and corporate governance goals can yield strong returns. Woods stressed the importance of partnership between business, government, and social sectors in order to amplify the power of partnership. Dr. Healey ended on a hopeful note, highlighting women’s engagement in communities and representation in local legislatures.

It’s important to look at communities and to empower citizens to really understand how their local government functions.

Sylvie Légère

Ultimately, a successful democracy is incredibly important not only for society writ large but in particular for the success for women.

Dambisa Moyo

When we actually work together, the economics can work, the systems can work, and it works for communities and it works for all of us.

Wendy Woods

It’s the idea of America that has inspired people from around to come to this place because they believe this is the place where they can have more agency.

Dr. Kerry Healey

Key takeaways & next steps:

  • With democracy in crisis around the world, civic leadership—especially that of women—must play a role in saving it.
  • Government, civil society, and the private sector working together can help prevent further democratic backsliding and strengthen economies.