Fearless, Peerless Women in the World

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“For a woman to reach the top, she has to have skin as thick as an old crocodile”
(Christine Lagarde, managing director, International Monetary Fund)

“Our rights will be the first to go, when this all crumbles”
(Seline Sayak-Boke, deputy chair of Republican People’s Party of Turkey)

“I don’t want to hear ’50 is the new 30.’ 50 is the new 50, and I’m happy with that.”
(Jo Ann Jenkins, CEO, AARP)

“If you’re pregnant in Africa we say you have one foot in the grave”
(Supermodel and maternal health advocate Liya Kebede)

“My family now realizes that I have power”
(Sonita, Alizadeh, 19-year-old Iranian refugee and rapper whose music video “Brides for Sale” exposed the horror of forced child marriages)

“I’ve learned that adversity can also be opportunity.”
(FOX news anchor Megyn Kelly)

“I just wanted to be a character that wasn’t a terrorist or in IT”
(Actor, writer, producer Mindy Kaling)


I was privileged to attend the 7th Women in the World Summit in New York, and it was a dizzying, colorful, provocative and at times devastating chorus of voices. Presented by the New York Times and hosted by Tina Brown, the Summit featured dozens of leaders, activists, artists, journalists and newsmakers of every stripe, from the first lady of Afghanistan and former First Lady Laura Bush to Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards and “everyday heroes” who are saving the lives of refugees, exposing wildlife poachers, preventing maternal mortality in Africa, solving problems for the disabled, and fighting hunger, gun violence, ignorance and apathy all over the world.

I’m not sure if there’s any other stage in the world that would feature a captain in the Somali army, a conservationist with a PhD in elephant ecology, the creator of eyeglasses made especially for children with Down’s Syndrome, and the inventor of an app designed to eradicate food waste.

More than anything, this forum reminded me that influence today comes in many forms, that our voices are powerful instruments (but only if we use them), and that, despite the many atrocities and challenges that so many face around the world today, there is resilience and optimism everywhere…and there are scores of incredible women and organizations stepping up to lead the charge.

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