A few weeks have passed since I attended the Women in the World Conference in New York City, an event hosted by Tina Brown of the Daily Beast, but many of the things I heard, saw and experienced are staying with me. The line up was extensive, from Angelina Jolie to Hillary Clinton, Oprah to Meryl Streep and so many more. It would be impossible to give a synopsis of every performance, speaker, and story told at the conference (see agenda) but I wanted to share just a few thoughts as it was truly an incredible few days. On the DAILY BEAST site they have a lot of content from the conference and I would encourage you to make yourself a cup of tea, and cruise through it.
I embraced the whole TWITTER thing during the conference, which was fascinating. I have to say I did not really ‘get it’ until this event. I TWEETED realtime, mainly just great quotes from the speakers, and by adding the hashtag for the event I could follow along and pick up what many in the audience felt were the big take aways as it was happening. (you can check out all the tweets here). To see what I tweeted (like you care I know…) go to my twitter home page. It was just really cool and in the future I will most certainly check out the TWEETS for events I cannot attend in person.
In general the best sessions, in my opinion, featured women from outside the United States. Leymah Gbowee, Nobel Laureate, was absolutely incredible. Not only was the content of what she was saying amazing, but also how she shared it. When asked a question, she answered with a story. The importance of storytelling was a HUGE take-away for me. She said American women must “get up” if they want to affect change. ( a write up on the session can be found here – Daily Beast) As it relates to women and men she says, “as long as we continue to engage from a position of weakness, they will never respect us. It is time for women to stop being politely angry.” Leymah schooled us in how to use power to affect positive change in the world. She rocked.
I contrast the above with the session called “Where are the women at the top?” hosted by the amazing Sheryl Sandbery, COO of Facebook. The panel featured fabulous women including Jill Abramson, Shelby Knox, Anne Kornblut, Cheryl Mills, and Gloria Steinem but the discussion fell short. The key question asked was “has the definition – or importance- of professional success changed since the dawn of feminism?” What ????? I don’t even know what that means nor do I think it is current and relevant. It felt like a conversation we have had over and over and over and over. I sat there thinking that if Leymah had only gone FIRST, this panel could have taken a whole other direction. Instead of asking where are the women, answer: virtually nowhere, we could have been talking about concrete actions to get them there. Opportunity missed in my opinion.
A completely fascinating panel was “Changing The Minds of Men” moderated by Christiane Amanpour featuring Bibi Hokmina, Mohammad Nasib, and Zainab Salbi. Bibi is a woman who has for a long time dressed as a man. She is an elected official in Eastern Afghanistan and it was so interesting to listen to a woman, dressed as a man, talk about women power and potential. Bottom line, she is very worried that with the US pulling out of Afghanistan, there will be a tremendous roll back of the gains made by women in her country. I certainly share her concern. Click here to watch.
In the closing session, Hillary Clinton asks the question, “‘Why do extremists—in every country—want to control women?’ The Secretary of State said that even the U.S. ought to live its own values because ‘America needs to set an example for the entire world.'” ( another AMEN!!!!!) The video posted by The Daily Beast can be found above, as well as many others on The Daily Beast Website.
Some of the great quotes I found on twitter:
“When you play a great world leader, you get an Oscar. And when you get a true world leader, you get Hillary Clinton” Meryl Streep
“Women should have the right to make their own decisions, in every country.” – Hillary Clinton
“Until we get political power, we can’t make giant strides. And every woman in here needs to help get a woman elected.” -Kah Walla
“I feel like I’ve been plugged into an energy source: it’s bigger than oil, coal — it’s girls!” –Meryl Streep
“Women’s rights are human rights. Hillary is making those words a lynch pin of political policy.” –Meryl Streep
“Being a woman in the world means never giving up on yourself, on your potential, on your future. It means getting up, working hard, and putting a country or a community on your back.” Hillary Clinton
“Somebody can imprison your body, but not your mind.” – Zin Mar Aung, #Burmese activist imprisoned for 11 years
Insider also posted 9 of the best quotes from the 2012 Women in the World Conference.