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A teenager in New York describes a night from hell in her past—an attack by machete-wielding men on her family in Africa—and how she turned tragedy into art.

She describes it as like a movie—the night she saw her family members get gunned down by armed rebels in a bloody massacre in Africa.

Her name is Sandra Uwiringiyimana, and she is now a high-school student in Rochester, N.Y. She shops at the mall and sees movies with her friends, not unlike any other teen. But her past sets her apart. On opening night of the Women in the World Summit, she shared her life story, describing how she moved on from an unthinkable massacre on her tribe—and how she is now turning tragedy into poignant photography.

In an interview with Charlie Rose, 17-year-old Sandra told how she grew up in the South Kivu region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where she and her family faced discrimination because their tribe—the Banyamulenge—had ancient roots in neighboring Rwanda, rendering them not “authentically” Congolese.

Live Blog

When Families Turn Murderous

A riveting panel zooms in on girls who flee forced marriage—and families who want them dead as a result.

In a dramatic opening-night panel at the Women in the World Summit Thursday, two brave women shared harrowing tales of escape—from their own families. Both women, Sabatina James and Jasvinder Sanghera, fled their families to avoid disappearing into forced marriage, and both paid a high price, becoming estranged from their families for life. But at least they are alive.

For women like Sanghera and James, with families rooted in the ancient tribal traditions of India and Pakistan, respectively, marriage is viewed as a daughter’s destiny. Girls who refuse to wed are seen by their families as rebellious and shameful—so much so, that they can be killed for such a “crime.” An estimated 5,000 women and girls around the world are murdered by their relatives each year for such disobedience, according to the United Nations.

The panel, moderated by Lesley Stahl of 60 Minutes, told the stories of the girls who fall victim to forced marriage—and the people who help them escape. Sanghera runs a group called Karma Nirvana in the U.K., where girls can call a hotline to get help. James launched a foundation in Germany called Sabatina, which acts as an underground railroad, finding girls shelter and jobs.

Diane von Furstenberg, Sheryl Sandberg, Lauren Bush Lauren, Jane Harman, Judith Rodin, Nizan Guanaes, Maya L. Harris and Mellody Hobson pay tribute to a woman unable to attend the summit.

Following her enthusiastic welcome, Brown introduced those whom she calls "eight of the great," her vibrant co-hosts for the weekend. Each of the hosts—Diane von Furstenberg, Sheryl Sandberg, Judith Rodin, Nizan Guanaes, Mellody Hobson, Lauren Bush Lauren, Jane Harman, and Maya L. Harris—took to the stage one by one to give voice to a brave woman who was unable to attend the summit. Brown also celebrated Leymah Gbowee and Meryl Streep, fellow co-hosts who will join the summit this weekend.

Live Blog

Tina Brown Kicks Off Summit

'This is not a summit that defines women's issues as somehow divorced from all the other human and economic predicaments.'

Newsweek & The Daily Beast editor-in-chief Tina Brown launched the third annual Women in the World summit before a packed David H. Koch Theater Thursday evening, stressing: "When it comes to the advancement of women and girls, people really, really want to step out.”

Tina Brown Welcomes Guests to the Summit

Over the next three days, she vowed to cover the world “from the unique perspective of women”—one still “so much ignored still in the boardrooms and chancellories, courts and cabinets where the big decisions are made.”

“This is not a summit that defines women's issues as somehow divorced from all the other human and economic predicaments,” she said, echoing Sec. of State Hillary Clinton’s now famous declaration that “women’s rights are human rights.”

Chime In

Join the Conversation!

Follow along with the Women in the World summit on Twitter, and tweet with the hashtag #WIW12 to join in!

Suma Tharu opened the third annual summit with a poignant song about her time as an indentured servant in Nepal. Follow our coverage as inspiring leaders and activists from around the globe—from Hillary Clinton to Angelina Jolie—take the stage.

Live Blog

And We're Off!

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Marc Bryan-Brown

As Newsweek & The Daily Beast's third annual Women in the World Summit gets underway in New York City, stay tuned to our live blog for breaking updates.

Welcome! In just a few hours, Newsweek & The Daily Beast's third Women in the World Summit will blast off at Lincoln Center, as inspiring leaders and activists from around the globe gather to address the most urgent challenges facing women and girls. Over the next three days we'll hear stories of bravery and brainstorm solutions for change. Check back often for live updates.

After an opening performance by Suma Tharu, a 16-year-old singer from Nepal, Newsweek & The Daily Beast editor-in-chief Tina Brown will be joined on stage by co-hosts Leyhmah Gbowee, Sheryl Sandberg, Meryl Streep, Diane von Furstenberg, Jane Harman, Lauren Bush Lauren, Nizan Guanaes, Maya L. Harris, Mellody Hobson and Judith Rodin to launch the evening's program.

From there, 60 Minutes anchor Leslie Stahl will take the stage to lead a panel on forced marriage in the Muslim world—and whether mothers are to blame. We'll hear from the joint head of the U.K.'s Forced Marriage Unit, Chaz Askoshile, who'll describe the dramatic rescue of a British bride from Islamabad, where she was forced by her family to marry against her will—illuminating a disturbing trend in which Western parents abduct their daughters and send them abroad to wed. She'll be joined by Sabatina James, author of Condemned Without a Crime, and Jasvinder Sanghera, CEO and founder of Karma Nirvana.

Later in the evening, CBS's Charlie Rose will talk to former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright about war's impact on women around the world; Congolese genocide survivor Sandra Uwiringiyimana will share how she built a new life for herself as a photographer in New York City; and actress and activist Angelina Jolie will address the crowd.

Interactive

Explore Our List!

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

Video

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

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2012 Summit Agenda

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

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