Women Redefining Leadership Panel 1997
The State of the World Forum held its third annual gathering Nov. 4-9, 1997 in San Francisco, bringing together leaders from a spectrum of disciplines to deliberate concerning issues of concern to humanity. The 720 participants, including 60 youth, came from 52 countries and were comprised of 50% women, maintaining the Forum’s commitment to reflect the world as it deliberates about the world.

We gathered mindful of the immense turbulence, challenge and opportunity that characterize our place in time. The reality of globalization and the concomitant yearning for individual and ethnic identity are compelling humanity to reframe the issue of community within a global context.

The central challenge before us is that of stewardship. How should we fit into the web of life? How should our developments in technology be deployed? What social contracts must be fashioned in the global economy which both generate more prosperity and care for those who become vulnerable? How do we develop mechanisms of governance equal to challenges which are now global in scope? What principles should guide our future leaders?

The 1997 State of the World Forum examined these questions with the understanding that the future of the world rests less and less in the hands of governments or international institutions. Increasingly, with information and communication technologies empowering individuals everywhere, the future rests with motivated individuals and the networks they are creating.

The core mission of the State of the World Forum is to establish an enabling environment for concerned individuals from around the world to think deeply about humanity's most critical challenges and take concerted action to help give shape to the world we envision. Working in partnership with those individuals and organizations worldwide who are similarly concerned, the Forum seeks to:

• promote inquiry into the great issues confronting humanity as it enters an era of increased globalization;

• empower those individuals who are participating in the process of social change with hope and the tools of leadership;

• engage in concrete programs which are global in scope and of fundamental importance to the long term well-being of the human community; and

• offer the international community an integrated vision of the future that outlines practical steps towards achieving our shared goals.

This effort is being developed in the conviction that the process of globalization is in essence the challenge to envision and create the first global civilization; that the problems of the world are for the first time in history essentially manageable, given the scientific, political and social tools at our disposal; and that humanity, already cooperating in so many areas, stands potentially ready to envision and implement a common vision of the future. The question is not whether we can accomplish these things. We know we can. The question is that of setting priorities, reaching consensus, mobilizing resources and exercising will.