Feature story

Global Business Coalition 10th anniversary conference: Business driving change for a healthier world

03 June 2011

The Global Business Coalition (GBC) Annual Conference and Awards Dinner took place from 1-2 June in New York. This year’s event marked the 10thanniversary of the coalition and brought together more than 500 business executives, policy makers, celebrities and thought leaders to discuss on the corporate response to global health challenges and identify new avenues for future business action.

The GBC Annual Conference focuses on the unique role that business plays in addressing health challenges—including HIV, within the workplace and in the world at large. During the conference, the GBC announced an opening of its mandate to address not only infectious pandemic diseases but also the full range of global health challenges upon which the private sector can engage.

One of the panel discussions of the conference focused on the power of men to accelerate progress in eliminating the disparities facing women and girls in the world. Entitled Healthy women, healthy economies: Men who make it their business to improve women's lives. The panel brought together business, political and civil society leaders committed to communicating and demonstrating as men that gender inequity is a source of suffering, not power.

We must engage with men and boys to promote awareness of the need for a ‘new masculinity’ that see women and girls as equal partners

Michel Sidibé, UNAIDS Executive Director

“We must engage with men and boys to promote awareness of the need for a new masculinity’ that see women and girls as equal partners,” said UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé, a speaker at the event. “We need to share good practices; scale up small-scale projects; promote gender-sensitive education in schools; and push national AIDS programmes to engage with men and boys especially in HIV prevention efforts,” he added.

The panel was moderated by Isobel Coleman from the Council on Foreign Relations’ Women and Foreign Policy Program. Ambassador Eric Goosby, the United States Global AIDS Coordinator also spoke. Speakers from the private sector included Jeff Seabright, Chief Environmental Officer at The Coca-Cola Company; Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, Managing Director and CEO of Nigeria's Access Bank; Gary Cohen, Executive Vice President, BD and Rick Echevarria of Intel Corporation.

Artist and AIDS activist Whoopi Goldberg hosted the Awards Dinner on 2 June, where the Global Coalition honoured its two founding supporters George Soros and Ted Turner. The GBC also paid special tribute to U.S. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke who headed the Coalition from 2001 to 2009 and passed away earlier this year.

Addressing the gala, UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé acknowledged the legacy of Ambassador Holbrooke who he described as a “tireless AIDS advocate”. Mr Sidibé also congratulated the GBC for its enduring commitment to AIDS and the world’s health as well as to saving lives of mothers and babies through and bringing TB into workplace HIV programmes.