Women in the World 2015

I went last year and was not going to miss it this year. Women In The World Summit.

A live media feed created by my friend Tina Brown (one of the women in my Extraordinary Lives mini series). Tina describes the conference as “parachuting behind the front lines of the news.” And although we are sitting in the Lincoln Center with 2,500 other people we feel part of the journey described by the guides on stage: activists, entrepreneurs, fighters, journalists, peacemakers and rabble rousers.

We celebrate their victories, share their sorrows and join their struggles.

I heard the story of two remarkable mothers, one Israeli and one Palestinian, who both lost their sons in the conflict, yet transformed their personal tragedy into reconciliation and forgiveness. “The tear drops on our pillows are the same color,” said the Palestinian women, through an interpreter. And the Israeli mother said, “If we can sit in this room together and share the same pain, surely this is an example to everyone else,” and she reached over to hold the hand of the other mother. I was reminded of my Aunt who very early on decided to put aside any bitterness when my cousin, her son, was murdered by the IRA. These mothers are our examples.

I listened to a converstaion between three top women in film, about animating hot-button issues through the female lens, Ava Duvernay, Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and Meryl Streep. The first two visonaries talked about the need to have strong, brave women, with strong voices which can be amplified so we can hear them, and bring their voices to the fore, we need to create hero’s for the next generation, they said. We watched a clip from Meryl’s new film Suffragette and she explained how the suffragette movement in England was so different from that in America, apparently we Brits were a bit more boisterous and decided to start blowing up all the greens on the golf courses to get the attention of the men. Getting the vote is one thing Meryl pointed out, using the vote is another.

There were many other conversations to listen to: GONE GIRLS; one year after the Boko Haram kidnappings what has become of the missing girls? And will the new Nigerian government help? EVERYONE’S PROBLEM; Women want to be there for their kids, their aging parents, and their husbands, but the American work place won’t let them, and THE DEBATE THAT’S SHAKING INDIA; who’s winning the fight against sexual violence and gender inequality? A conversation on the politics of shame and stigma in India…………

We can draw strength from the example of those awe-inspiring women on the stage, talking about these subjects, and admire their passion, courage and tenacity but as women its clear, we still have so much work ahead of us.