The 7th Annual Women in the World conference recently took place at New York’s Lincoln Centre April 6-8th. The event brought together women from around the world to share and exchange ideas, thought-provoking conversations and solutions to the many problems women still face in the 21st century. Tina Browne Media, together with NY Times, put on a fantastic event.
I was honoured to be a part of the event as a Speaker on the panel called Birthing Solutions to End Maternal Mortality. It was supported by Merck for Mothers and brought together myself, Host of The Maternal Health Channel Television Series, Liya Kebede, Supermodel, Designer and Founder of The Liya Kebede Foundation, Zabaida Bai, President and Chief Executive, ayzh and Mary Goretti Musoke, Founder of the Maria Maternity Ward and President of the Uganda Private Midwives Association. We were allocated 30 minutes to speak about the important issues surrounding the reasons why women are still facing high levels of maternal mortality globally. The time was just too short and the moderator didn’t get to all the questions we were to address. Sadly we didn’t get to discuss the solutions to the issues. There is still much to be done and hopefully people remain engaged in the conversation on ending maternal mortality around the world.
Mindy Kaling spoke one on one with Alicia Menendez, Anchor and Correspondent Fusion, to discuss being a minority in the television business and why she created her own opportunities. She poke frankly about the barriers faced and why it was important to create her show and also joked about people confusing her character with her real self. Kerry Washington, who stars in ABC’s Scandal, was there to discuss the serious issue of sexual harassment in the workplace and where we are now 25 years after Anita Hill accused Clarence Thomas in the most infamous sexual harassment case in America. Washington stars as Anita Hill in the upcoming HBO film Confirmation which is tells the story for the first time to a new generation. Sally Quinn, who is a Reporter for the Washington Post shared a personal story of her own and said, “I could have been Anita Hill.” She was referring to having an experience of sexual assault and never reporting the case. Over 70% of women don’t report incidents. [CLICK HERE TO WATCH THIS PANEL]
The most heated and perhaps most talked about panel was the one called What is the Future For Women in Islam? Filled with tension, passion, and strong convictions, each of them had something to say and the moderator, Barkha Dutt, Director Barkha Dutt Live Media, even faced challenges keeping the ladies in order. [CLICK HERE TO WATCH FOR YOURSELF]
One of my favourite panels featured Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo. She discussed what it’s like to be a woman running a Fortune 500 Company and the sacrifices it took. How women are often faced with sacrificing time raising their children with being a success in their careers. She advocated for women having time off to care for their children. Although she doesn’t regret what she had to do to get to where she is, she did admit to having a sense of mixed feelings when it comes to family. She shared a story about a note her daughter wrote as a child that said, “Dear Mom, I love you. Please come home. Please please please please please come home.” Many mothers have faced the mixed emotions of being at work and missing things in their children’s lives. But there is a way to have a balance. [CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE FULL CONVERSATION]
I was backstage while the panel on Why TV Is Hotter Than The Movies took place. Featuring Misha Green, Creator of “Underground”, Yara Shahidi, Philanthropist, Scholar and Star of Black-ish, Nina Shaw, Partner Del Shaw Moonves Tanaka Finkelstein & Lezcano and Jurnee Smollet-Bell, Actress and Activist. That panel was moderated by Nightline Co-Anchor Juju Chang. It was a discussion on the increasing diversity in television and what types of roles black women are offered and sometimes turn down in an effort to change the landscape in media. [CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE PANEL]
I can’t forget to mention Iranian Journalist Masih Alinejad, who said, “Women in Iran are breaking the law every day just to be ourselves.” She started a movement using social media telling women to remove their headscarves and post a photo to social media. She has been banished from her home country since 2009, but continues to discuss the issues of women in Iran. [CLICK HERE TO SEE HER SPEAK]
Meryl Streep addresses everyone with words of wisdom on the final day of the event. (Photo: Ivy Prosper)
Women in the World is an amazing opportunity for women to come together, share ideas and inspire each other with the work everyone is doing. Uplifting each other as women is so important. Understanding that we have the power to make change not only in our lives but in the lives of others. The final day Meryl Streep, who has supported this event for years, spoke about being leaders of tomorrow and what our ‘call to action’ should be. Streep appropriately said, “None of us can do everything, but each of us can do something.”
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