Women in the World Summit 2012

Women in the World Foundation from Women in the World on Vimeo.

The 2012 Women in the World summit is soon coming to New York City  featuring many of the world’s prominent activists and leaders. This will be their third gathering dedicated to advancing women and girls through stories and solutions. It will be  hosted by Newsweek, The Daily Beast and the amazing Tina Brown.  Their goal is to  “use vivid journalistic storytelling to showcase women who are battling the status quo, picking up the pieces in the aftermath of war and shattering glass ceilings.” (Daily Beast 2012).

The Daily Beast posted a thrilling preview of the weekend to come on their website saying, “Tina Brown will join with co-hosts Leymah Gbowee, Sheryl Sandberg, Meryl Streep (17 time nominated and newly awarded Academy Award Winner) , Diane von Furstenberg, Jane Harman, Lauren Bush, Nizan Guanaes, Maya Harris, Mellody Hobson, and Judith Rodin for the three-day event. Charlie Rose will interview former secretary of state Madeleine Albright, Angelina Jolie, and a young Congolese genocide survivor about war’s harrowing impact on women. IMF chief Christine Lagarde will share her insight into the global economy’s next act. Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni will talk to historian Simon Schama about Israel on the brink. Mexican congresswoman Rosi Orozco will recount her battle against sex trafficking. We’ll also welcome as moderators Barbara Walters, Christiane Amanpour, Andrea Mitchell, Lesley Stahl, Robin Roberts, Cynthia McFadden, Martha Raddatz, and Juju Chang.” Wow!

From March 8th through 10th my favorite city will be on fire with powerful feminine energy and I will be there with my Wonder Woman T-Shirt on!  This will be the first time I am able to attend and I am beyond excited.  The venue is much larger than last year and tickets will be made available to the public.  If you are passionate about women and girls, come!

Next year, once Women Moving Millions is launched a global philanthropic initiative, I hope we will be invited to be on a panel at this event which  might feature our amazing community members who are dedicating their lives to this cause.  At the end of the day we are our stories, and it is stories, which touch the heart and the mind, combined with calls to action that change the world for the better.

Thank you Tina Brown for all you do for women and girls and I will be there as close to the front row as I can get, cheering you on.



MissRepresentation and The Invisible War Part II

The 2012 Sundance Film Festival was over a couple of weeks ago but some of the films I just can’t stop thinking about.  Looking back,  the film from 2011 that is still having incredible impact on me and will for some time is “MissRepresentation.”  Barely a day goes by that someone does not bring up this amazing documentary to me.  If you have not yet seen it, be sure to check out their web-site for a screening near you.  They also just launched a #DontBuyIt campaign on twitter. Click here to learn more.  You heard it here first, doc groups are the new book groups. Start one today.  For a good place to source some great films check out the list at Impactpartners.com.

The film from 2012 that will no doubt prove to be as memorable and impactful is  “The Invisible War.” I did a post on this film prior to it’s premiere, and I simply must revisit it now.  This incredibly well done and amazing investigative documentary about rape in the U.S. military won the Audience Award, U.S. Documentary at the 2012 festival.  The issue of rape in the military was mostly unknown to many people until “The Invisible War” brought the issue to the forefront. To learn more about “The Invisible War” and the issues surrounding rape in the military you can visit their website.  Please  sign up for their newsletter and  TAKE ACTION by signing a petition to stop rape in the military.

At Sundance I had the honor of meeting many of the brave women and men featured in the films.  One women in particular was Kori Cioca. It is beyond unacceptable what happened to her and the fact that as a VA she cannot get the medical care she needs as a result of the rape she endured is shameful.  Please show women like Kori, and thousands of others that have had similar experiences that it is not okay. Check out a sit down interview with director Kirby Dick with survivors Kori Cioca and Trina McDonald on Democracy Now.

For a complete list of the award winning films click here – 2012 Sundance Film festival award winning movies.

As my final note on Sundance 2012, I was honored to host an amazing Sundance event, “Women at Sundance” for many of the most influential and visionary women at Sundance:  writers, directors, producers, first time Sundance artists, and friends. We gathered at my home to hear some great speakers, including director Catharine Hardwicke (of Twilight, Thirteen and others),  and some ground breaking news about Sundance partnering with Women In Film to help ensure that women in film have the resources necessary to succeed. Pat Mitchell, who was a co-host, wrote a wonderful article on the event. “The goal is to formulate a vision for support within the scope of both institutions’ programs [Sundance Institute and WIF]. The efforts will focus on supporting opportunities or paths toward sustained careers, inclusivity and parity, and the diversity in the content and backgrounds of women filmmakers.” It was a great festival and I look forward to 2013.


“Ready To Fly” Premiere Tonight in Salt Lake City

Ask any driven young athlete what their dream is and most likely you’ll hear, “I want represent my country in the Olympics.” To be an Olympic competitor is one of the highest accomplishments an athlete can achieve.  But what if you were banned from such competition? “Ready To Fly” is an extraordinary documentary about just such an athlete and more.  Lindsay Van and the women on the US Ski Jumping team have dealt with gender inequality in their sport for the last 18 years and chose to do something about it.

After years of practicing and competing  Lindsay became the first Women’s World Ski Jumping Champion at the age of 24 years old in 2009. Yet her victory was bittersweet. Even though by distance she out-jumped many of the world’s best men jumpers she was not able to compete at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. Though the Olympics were created to allow athletes to compete without the burden of politics, religion, or racism, the International Olympic Committee decided to forbid women from competing in ski jumping. It was the only Winter Olympic discipline that didn’t allow women. Why? It was argued that the sport did not have enough of a following and one guy was even quoted as saying that ski jumping is likely not good for women’s reproductive organs. Perhaps the best line in the film is Lindsay saying ” my future is in the hands of some old dude.” I would add an old, white, sexist, dude.

While the issue of gender inequality in sport may seem less significant these days with the passing of Title IX in 1972 it is still very much evident in women’s ski jumping and  many women’s intercollegiate sports.

In a longitudinal study examining participation levels of females in intercollegiate sport, 2012 represents the highest number of female teams per school in history. However, according to the study there are about 16 times more female high school athletes than participation slots for females on the college level. The study speculates that the increase in participation levels in female athletes is one of the largest contributing factors of the enactment of Title IX, which is federal legislation that prohibits discrimination based on sex in education programs that receive federal money. Other reasons might include that it is more widely accepted to embrace females as athletes, as well as an increase in media coverage. Whatever the cause and effect might be, women are becoming more dominate in sports.

Universal Sports highlighted a story on women’s ski jumping and their funding, or lack there of. In May of 2009 the US Ski Team and USSA decided to cut all funding for the highly competitive women’s ski jumping team. Yet even in the face of discrimination Lindsay Van still held her composure when asked about the budget cuts. After her first-ever FIS women’s ski jumping world championship, Lindsey Van of Park City said, “I was surprised with the decision the USSA made after such a successful season, but I understand budget constraints. USSA’s and their sponsors’ focus is on Olympic medals, and currently women’s jumping is not in the Olympics. I appreciate the support the USST has given us over the past three years and I was proud to represent my country. So yes, I was disappointed in the beginning, but it is what it is, and we have to move forward. Our team has overcome many obstacles before and this is just one more bump in the road. We are currently looking for private sponsors and trying to raise funds … Our goal still remains the same, despite our funding loss.” She is my kind of woman.

Despite all odds Lindsay Van and the other women of the US Women’s ski jumping team fought to get women’s ski jumping into the 2014 Sochi Olympics which will mark the first ever winter Olympics to represent men and women equally. The film tells the story of their amazing struggle and ultimate success.

Friday February 10th, today, will mark the world premiere of this touching and heroic film.  I am extremely proud to be one of the many Executive Producers that helped make this film happen.  In just a few hours I will attending the launch party and then will be gathered in a Salt Lake City venue to watch it again with my two children.  One of the main reasons I chose to support this film is because of how my 11 year old daughter reacted to it after seeing the first time.  She said “mom what happened to her is not fair!.” You are right Allie, it is not fair and this woman was brave enough to fight for what she believed in.  May this film give all of us the courage to stand up for what we believe in and never, ever give up.

To learn more about how YOU can  help support the film please visit the Ready to Fly Website.  No really….. visit it.  There is much you can do.  Go see the film, buy the DVD, help get the film to a local theater, help sell it to a major network for lots of money and more.

Jacki Zehner and Perry Kleeman