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Bush and HP’s Gabi Zedlmayer discuss how to harness technology to solve world health problems.


Marc Bryan-Brown

“Health is the last frontier of information technology,” observed Gabi Zedlmayer. And she should know—she runs Hewlett-Packard’s office for global social innovation. 

"This is true everywhere," she continued, speaking on a panel Friday morning. "Even in the first world. You can pull cash out of an ATM in Kenya, yet if you switch from one doctor to another in the same American city, you are likely to encounter the problem of how to get your paperwork across town."

Tens of thousands of women across the region are brutalized and forced into sex work, and some face an even worse fate. A survivor tells Christopher Dickey her harrowing story.

She says her name is Esther. She wears white shoes. Her long, dark hair hangs over her shoulders, but she doesn’t show her face, doesn’t give her real name, because she still walks with fear. Fear of the men who enslaved her, forced her into prostitution. Fear that somehow, despite her freedom, she will have to repeat what seemed like endless perdition.

Under the dim lights at the David H. Koch theater in New York City, and with her back to the audience at the Women in the World Summit on Friday, Esther told her story to Newsweek & The Daily Beast’s Christopher Dickey.

“Let me warn you,” Dickey said as he led the panel discussion on sex trafficking and the treatment of women in Latin America. “This is going to be a descent into hell.”


Marc Bryan-Brown

Women are surging in national security roles, bringing unique perspectives and skills with them. Janet Napolitano, Jane Harman, Cathy Lanier and Atifete Jahjaga discuss why women should play an even bigger part.

In recent years women have surged to the top of the national security establishment, bringing important new perspectives and problem-solving abilities to a critically important policy arena. That was the broad conclusion of a panel discussion at Newsweek & The Daily Beast’s Women in the World Summit on Friday.

The panel itself was a testament to the increasingly influential role women play in national security—and not just in the U.S. Participating in the discussion, moderated by Sir Harry Evans, were Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano; former congresswoman Jane Harman, who now is president and CEO of the Wilson Center in Washington (and part owner of The Newsweek Daily Beast Company); D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier; and Atifete Jahjaga, the president of Kosovo. 

“Everyone leads with priorities or insights that are guided in part by your own life experiences,” said Napolitano. “Qualifications are qualifications, you either have them or you don’t, and it should be irrespective being a man or a woman.” For Napolitano, the first women to head Homeland Security, that translates into how she develops priorities at DHS. She cited her department’s focus on the “global scourge” of sex trafficking as an example.

Harman was more explicit about the unique qualification women bring to bear on national security: “Women are lionesses in terms of protecting our families,” she said. They have a “fierce instinct to protect.”  Harman also emphasized the common sense approach women take to national security. “We go to war less,” she said, bluntly. “We try to resolve problems.”

Afghan Firebrand

The Revolutionary Female Elder

In a heated discussion, Christiane Amanpour asks panelists what will become of women and girls once the U.S. pulls out of Afghanistan.

“If the Taliban return to positions of power, the situation of Afghan women will become much worse; it would be a backward step,” declared elected Afghan provincial council member Bibi Hokmina. In an impassioned appeal to Afghan men and women, she said, “It’s time for us to stand up on our own two feet, to better our lives by ourselves. Who are the Taliban anyway? Who are they to have so much control over our lives?” Her emotional declaration was all the more memorable because Hokmina wore the turban and clothes of a Pashtun man. 

“The Most Dangerous Country for Women” flashed starkly across a gigantic screen to introduce Friday morning’s panel on Afghan women. Moderated by ABC Global News anchor and CNN International chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour, the panelists discussed how much the status of Afghan women has improved since the 2001 fall of the Taliban—and what challenges lie ahead as U.S. troops prepare to pull out.

Grim statistics bear testimony to the fact that women are still fighting an uphill struggle in Afghanistan, which has been wracked by conflict and instability for three decades. Half of all girls are married before the age of 15. One in three women is subjected to abuse. Indeed, noted Amanpour, before the traumatic terrorist attacks of 9/11, most Americans didn’t know much about the horrors of the Taliban regime except that it relegated women to the purgatory of the burqa, within the confines of home and without access to schools.

Investing in women isn’t just right, says Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent—it’s smart.

In 2007, Muhtar Kent, the chairman and CEO of the Coca-Cola, looked around his company and noticed it was out of sync with the world—and with his customers. “I looked at who’s buying our beverages around the world, and 65 to 70 percent of our shoppers are women,” Kent told ABC’s Robin Roberts at the Women in the World summit Friday morning. “And then I looked inside our organization, and I got a totally different number.” Closing that gap, Kent thought, “was good business sense.”

Kent began a program, called 2020, designed to promote gender equality within the company—and in three-and-a-half years, Coca-Cola’s management went from 22 to 23 percent women to 40 percent, said Kent. “I’m still not satisfied.”

Kent’s mission extends beyond his company. His goal is to “empower five million women outside the company by 2020.” He says this, too, makes economic sense for Coca-Cola. “Women are the pillars of all the communities we serve,” says Kent. “They invest more of their income into their communities and their families, and they’re unbelievably good entrepreneurs.”

Leymah Gbowee:

Where Are the Angry American Women?

In a rollicking talk with Tina Brown, the Liberian peace activist says it's time to stop being polite: “We have to be our own Gandhis, our own kings, our own Mandelas."

Nobel Peace Prize winner Leymah Gbowee drew cheers at the Women in the World summit Friday morning, telling the crowd, “It’s time for women to stop being politely angry.” She was referring to the recent political firestorm in America over contraception and abortion. “Why are these women not angry and beating men left and right?” she asked, adding that men aren’t qualified to dictate women’s reproductive rights, since they’ve never given birth. “You only qualify if you’ve gone through the process—you understand what the process is.”

Gbowee knows something about telling off men. She won the Nobel prize this past fall for rallying women in her native Liberia to vanquish a dictator and demand peace in the war-torn country. In a frank and colorful talk with Tina Brown, Gbowee, now 40 years old, described how she was 17 when war broke out in her country. At the time, she said, she did a “total flip,” transforming from a dependent teenager with dreams of medical school to an immediate adult, responsible for finding food for 20 extended family members.

When Brown asked how she adjusted to her new reality, Gbowee said, “You never really adjust. You’re just existing. You’re alive. There’s nothing to look forward to. Every day, I went out to look for food. I saw bodies, people being shot. My mother had sunk into a state of total traumatization.” She added that she was so focused on her daily mission to feed the family that she didn’t notice one day when armed men were shouting at her to stop at a checkpoint, pointing their guns straight at her. “People were screaming at me,” she said, laughing.

Women have made so many strides, yet positions of power are still dominated by men. Why haven’t we made more progress, asks Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, and what can we do to change things?

The panel discusses their ideas for how to change the world for women

“In every area, women have steadily made progress—except at the top,” said Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook. “Where are we? Are we stalled?”

The jobs held by some of the women on the panel gave one answer to the question. As Sandberg noted, in 1962, the then-editor of The New York Times said, “No woman will ever be editor of The New York Times.” 

Today, said, Jill Abramson, the executive editor of The Times and the first woman to hold that position, “In our newsroom, nearly 40 percent of senior editors and managers are women, and then, of course, there’s me.”

The veteran actress kicked off the summit's second day with a feisty performance as Texas Gov. Ann Richards, adapted from her one-woman show.

Broadway star Holland Taylor performs as Gov. Ann Richards

Live Blog

Welcome to Day Two!

Nobel Laureate Leymah Gbowee, Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, ‘Tiger Mom’ Amy Chua, Kosovo President Atifete Jahjaga and many more join the discussion.

From the rise of China’s new “tiger women” to the challenges of changing Afghan men’s attitudes toward women, the summit’s second day of panels and interviews promises to spark thought-provoking discussion.

* The morning kicks off with a performance by Broadway star Holland Taylor portraying legendary Texas governor Ann Richards, followed by a discussion led by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, and featuring New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson and feminist icon Gloria Steinem, on how women’s definition of professional success is evolving.

* Later in the morning, Tina Brown will interview 2011 Nobel Laureate Leymah Gbowee about her extraordinary efforts to bring peace to Liberia.

The IMF head praised Italian P.M. Mario Monti as a beacon of hope in the global economy, but few others in the old boys’ club of finance received such praise as she argued that women are less inclined to take risks.

At a dinner for delegates to the Women in the World Summit in New York City on Thursday night, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde singled out one man as a beacon of hope in the bleak global economy. Since the technocrat Mario Monti replaced the infamously irresponsible Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in November, Italy is no longer the most disastrous problem facing the European economy, she said. The trust of investors is being restored and “it could well be that Italy is going to be the light of the European tunnel,” said Lagarde. “I would not short Italy, at all.”


Marc Bryan-Brown

But, more generally, men in the old boys’ club of finance did not rate such praise from Lagarde. Sparring amicably with economic historian Niall Ferguson, who was pushing the idea that the male propensity for risk taking is good because risk is what brings big rewards, Lagarde said “if Lehman Brothers had been a bit more Lehman Sisters ... we would not have had the degree of tragedy that we had as a result of what happened.” The great financial firm collapsed under an avalanche of bad debts based on bad bets in 2008, precipitating the global crisis.

Celebrities, politicians and leaders in business showed their support for the 3rd Annual Women in the World Summit. The three-day event brings together female leaders and activists from around the world with one goal in mind—to find real solutions to obstacles women face everywhere. From Angelina Jolie to Diane Von Furstenberg, here are highlights from the red carpet.

Jolie's Stunning Entrance

The flash bulbs were blinding as Angelina Jolie approached the red carpet at this year’s Women in the World Summit. The actress-turned-director spoke about her new movie, In the Land of Blood and Honey, which shines a light on violence against women during the Bosnian war. When asked why she tackled such a difficult topic, Jolie said, “We are all compelled to do the best we can for the things we care about.”

King Chooses WITW Over Sleep

Live Blog

Goodnight! Day One Wraps Up

Relive the first evening of the summit with photo and video highlights.

At the first night of the 2012 Women in the World summit, panel discussions ranged from forced marriage to the U.S.’s role in ending Syrian bloodshed. Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright called on the White House to take a stand against Bashar al-Assad’s violent regime and Angelina Jolie shared the story of Dr. Hawa Abdi, a Somalian obstetrician nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for saving the lives of thousands of refugees at a medical camp now controlled by militants. And International Monetary Fund chief Christine Legarde proposed solutions for fixing the global economy.

Catch up on all the panels and events with photo, video, and blog highlights from day one of the summit.


Marc Bryan-Brown

Watch inspiring leaders and activists from around the globe—from Angelina Jolie to Madeleine Albright—at our third annual Women in the World Summit in New York City.


Suma’s Song Kicks Off Women in the World

16 year-old Suma Tharu opened the summit with a poignant song about her time as an indentured servant in Nepal. Tharu is featured in 10x10, a feature film and global girls education campaign, and is now a Room to Read scholar.

Welcome By Tina Brown

The actor and humanitarian told the story of Dr. Hawa Abdi, the inspiring obstetrician whose medical camp in Somalia has saved thousands—but is now being overrun by militants.

At the final onstage event of the night, Charlie Rose encouraged genocide survivor Sandra Uwiringiyimana to introduce Angelina Jolie, a woman whose spotlight, she says, has “taken justice to a whole new level” and has been able to provide hope for many people.

Jolie, who is also a Goodwill Ambassador and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, gave a testimonial about Dr. Hawa Abdi, the obstetrician and gynecologist whose clinic in Somalia has been a haven for thousands of people since its founding in 1983. Dr. Abdi came to last year’s Women in the World summit as an icon for a peaceful society, and her story “illuminates the nightmare of tens of millions around the world,” said Jolie, “the internally displaced and the ones homeless within their homelands.”

After more than two decades of murder, rape, disease, and most recently, famine, Somalia still only knows violence. But the camp was operated with strict rules of conduct, overseen by Dr. Abdi and her two daughters, both doctors themselves. Despite facing many obstacles, it was encroached only once, when militants invaded and took Dr. Abdi hostage. With the force of her moral authority, she lectured her own captors: “What have you ever done for Somalia?” Dr. Abdi was freed.

The former U.S. secretary of state said the administration is searching for the right way to stop the carnage.

Former U.S. Sec. of State Madeleine Albright said on Thursday that she hopes the White House “would act soon” to help forge “an alliance structure” and “an international commitment” to help stop the bloodshed taking place in Syria, where more than 7,500 people have reportedly been killed in the uprising that began last year.

“It’s a very difficult decision,” Albright said. “People are being slaughtered in the cities, and what’s happening now is that [the White House] is trying to find the right mechanism” to act.

Albright, who spoke to CBS’s Charlie Rose at Newsweek & The Daily Beast’s Women in the World Summit in New York City, did not specify a specific course of action that the U.S. should take. Instead, she stressed that the White House and the international community need to find a way to avoid a possible civil war and "to make sure the killing stops."


Explore Our List!

150 Women Who Shake the World

They're starting revolutions, opening schools, and fostering a brave new generation. From Detroit to Kabul, these women are making their voices heard.


Relive the Summit

Women in the World Highlights

Women in the World Highlights

Watch the best moments from our third annual Women in the World Summit, from Leymah Gbowee to Amy Chua.

Game Changers

More from the Summit

Where Are the Angry American Women?

In a rollicking talk with Tina Brown, the Liberian peace activist says it's time to stop being polite: “We have to be our own Gandhis, our own kings, our own Mandelas."

Afghan Firebrand

The Revolutionary Female Elder

Massacre Survivor

A Teen's Life After Death


2012 Summit Agenda

See our complete lineup of events for the third annual Women in the World Summit.