See our complete lineup of events for the third annual Women in the World Summit.
Relive Saturday's summit events with photo and video highlights.
The third Women in the World summit came to a close Saturday, as Academy Award-winner Meryl Streep (Oscar in hand) delivered a rousing tribute to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who called for all women to be "fearless" and "reject any efforts to marginalize any one of us." Throughout the day, we heard from political powerhouses on how women can continue to shatter glass ceilings in world leadership, and two legal sisters who are brilliantly fighting to end underage prostitution and child marriage. Chelsea Clinton spoke with rising feminist stars about how they're using social media to empower girls, and Asenath Andrews shared how she's helping pregnant teens learn to care for their children while working toward their high school diploma. Catch up on all the inspiring panels and events with photo, video and blog highlights.
Taking on extremists both abroad and at home who would marginalize women, the secretary of state called for an 'audacious' fight.
“So how do you like my jacket?” Hillary Clinton asked, as she did a star turn on the stage to show off her green, white, and black jacket with sparkles threaded throughout. It was probably the least likely opening line for Clinton, who is known more for her policy prowess than for any kind of fashion displays. But Oscar-winning actress Meryl Streep had just introduced her, and Streep had twirled around to reveal the back of her red jacket, which was decorated with what looked like pink bow ties.
“I cannot believe what just happened,” Clinton exclaimed, saying she had no idea what Streep would do by way of introduction. Anticipating perhaps a reprise of the actress’s various roles, Clinton pronounced herself relieved that Streep hadn’t made “The Devil Wears Pantsuits,” a reference to Clinton’s tribute to the pantsuits that got her through the presidential race.
Acknowledging that her friends are right when they say she needs more sleep, Clinton stressed that for her what she does is “not so much work as a mission.” She talked about the various brave women she has met over the last 20 years, and when her energy flags, she thinks of all the obstacles they face. She spoke of the relationships she built with women in China, in Belarus, in Ireland, and in Pakistan, and asked, “What does it mean to be a woman in the world?”
The Oscar-winning actress compares herself to the secretary of state, not without a few eyebrows raised.
Meryl Streep could have been auditioning for her next Oscar-winning role, portraying Hillary Clinton, and she did it with such panache, and love, that it is easy to imagine the two women as interchangeable, which was the theme of Streep’s tribute to Clinton. Streep confided that every woman her age has compared herself to Clinton, studied her hairstyles, and her jackets, worried whether she’s getting enough sleep, and seeing themselves in the arc of Clinton’s life, with all its trials and tribulations. “Hillary is us, and we are Hillary,” Streep exclaimed.
As the repressive country stands at a critical crossroads, Melanne Verveer, former political prisoner Zin Mar Aung, author Peter Popham, and Tina Brown assess its prospects.
Zin Mar Aung Gives Firsthand Account of Prison in Burma
The final panel of the summit opened dramatically with a series of photographs of Burmese political prisoners. All had received astoundingly onerous prison sentences for transgressions as innocuous as privately writing a pro-democracy poem. One got 17 years for delivering documents to the office of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate who’s spent a decade and a half under house arrest. Another got 12 years—and wound up deaf in one ear after being beaten—for distributing pamphlets critical of the military government. One activist got 11 years for posting pro-democracy messages in public.
The big question facing Burma today is whether recent, tantalizing signs of a thaw in what had been decades of hardened repression by the brutal military government might accelerate—and if so, what will it portend for the country and for the world. The most tangible symbol of tectonic plates shifting has been the release of Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest, and the government permission for her to campaign for elections scheduled for April.
“We all know the amazing story of Aung San Suu Kyi, who spent 15 years under house arrest, a story that has inspired the world,” said Newsweek & the Daily Beast editor-in-chief Tina Brown, who moderated the panel. “Now a political thaw seems to be taking place…What would a Burmese Spring mean, for women, for Burma, and for the world?”
In just a few years, the 16-year-old student has triumphed over her past as an indentured servant to sing on the Lincoln Center stage.
In her second summit performance, Suma Tharu, a 16-year-old student who escaped indentured servitude in Nepal, sang a clear, triumphant and haunting melody before a crowded Lincoln Center theater. “I’m singing for me and thousands of other girls still in land or house, struggling for their life,” she told ABC’s Juju Chang with the help of a translater. “I’m singing for them, too.”
Since being rescued and enrolled in school for the first time just four years ago, Tharu is now studying at a 10th-grade level, thanks to the help of the organizations Room to Read and 10x10. When asked what she hopes to do with her life, she said proudly: “I want to fight for the rights of women.”
Watch her memorable performance here.
Educating girls can transform the world, Sarah Brown, Dr. Ida Betty Odinga and Shelly Esque tell ABC’s Juju Chang of their quest for universal primary education.
Sarah Brown, Dr. Ida Betty Odinga and Shelly Esque are three women dedicated to educating girls. They took the stage at the Women in the World summit Saturday afternoon to explain how they are working to help achieve one of the United Nations’ Millennium Development goals: universal primary education.
ABC’s Juju Chang kicked off the panel discussion with what she called a “revolutionary” thought: “educate girls and change the world,” she posited. “In just one generation we can break the cycle of poverty. Girls are the key.”
By starting a school for pregnant teens, the Detroit principal is offering young women a chance at success.
Every year, more than 4,000 teen girls in Detroit get pregnant, and most of them don't graduate from high school. But one woman is breaking the chain. Asenath Andrews, the third Mother of Invention at this year's summit, is the principal and founder of the Catherine Ferguson Academy, a school where young mothers not only graduate, but they flourish, as NPR's Renee Montagne told the morning’s attendees.
“It is surprising that in 2012, there is an attitude that once you get pregnant as a teenager, your life is over,” Andrews said. “That is not okay. If you come to our school, we expect you to not just sit there, but to do your best. You create a future for yourself. Nobody can hold you back except for you. It’s our job to take away their shoes and give them wings.”
Asked to name one word to describe the school, one of its students, Ashley Rodgers, said, “everything.” “Because Catherine Ferguson meant everything to me,” she said. “The school was like a second home. Catherine Ferguson saved my life.”
The school not only boasts high rates of graduation and college enrollment, but also a working farm. But Andrews wants to do more. “I would like to leave the legacy that not only must you graduate, you must have an international experience,” she said. “I would beg borrow and steal to make that happen.”
Women in the World Foundation reveals an innovative new online map to showcase projects advancing women and girls around the world.
ABC's Juju Chang and Women in the World Foundation president Kim Azzarelli took the stage on Saturday to unveil the foundation's exciting new initiative: "Get On The Map! for Women and Girls," an interactive online tool to track charitable projects that advance women and girls, launched in partnership with the Virtue Foundation. Azzarelli also announced Women in the World on Campus, which will bring Women in the World's signature stories and solutions to campuses all across the country.
The Foundation is the "connective tissue," said Azzarelli, linking younger generations to older ones in an effort to carry out the solutions discussed during the summit and throughout the year.
The map, which the foundation describes as "a single portal where you can go to learn about organizations and projects empowering women and girls around the world," is already tracking more than 3,000 projects.
Social media often gets a bad rap for its negative portrayals of women. On a Saturday panel, five rising feminist stars tell Chelsea Clinton how they’re using the Internet for remarkable good.
During “The Digital Lives of Girls,” social media activist Chelsea Clinton introduced five inspiring young women who are using the power of the Internet for good.
With so many negative images constantly splashed on TV and across websites, it’s increasingly difficult to cut through the noise. One young writer, Julie Zeilinger, is doing an admirable job as the founder and editor of The FBomb, a feminist blog geared toward teen girls. Zeilinger founded the site when she was only 16 years old, after deciding that there must be more high schoolers like her who were interested in discussing women’s issues and injustices.
Clinton asked her if, as a young woman, she still must explain to friends why it’s important to believe in feminism. Zeilinger said, “In our generation, we look at our lives and think we have pretty good ones—with The FBomb, I try to showcase stories of women and girls who don’t have it as good as we do. I’m trying to create a space to raise awareness about that.” Since 2009, her blog has evolved into a community of tens of thousands who share their stories. (Read more about Zeilinger’s mission on The Daily Beast.)
The RandomKid.org founder and Iowa teen tells Jill Iscol what she means by ‘the power of anyone.’
She was an 8th grader in Iowa when Nicholas Kristoff used his op-ed inches to endorse her for president. Now she’s 17 and she hasn’t exactly let him down. Talia Leman is the founder and CEO of a company that engages more than 12 million kids on four continents on issues ranging from education to animal welfare.
It all began with Hurricane Katrina. Talia watched images of destruction on her TV screen and decided to do something. She was going to tap into kid power, she decided, and try and raise one million dollars to help with hurricane relief. It was when she added photos of her little brother in a Darth Vader costume to her website that the effort caught the eye of producers at the Today show. They ran a segment on Talia and what she was trying to do.
“What I did was really an accident,” she joked.
What she did—with the contributions of kids across the country—was raise ten million dollars to send to New Orleans. That put Talia and her kid brigade on the list of the Top Ten biggest contributors to hurricane relief—alongside Fortune 500 companies.
Lawyers Kamala D. and Maya L. Harris talked about fighting underage prostitution, child marriage—and how their mother taught them the value of public service.
Kamala D. Harris is the first female, first African American, and first Asian American attorney general in California. Her sister Maya L. Harris was the youngest dean of a law school in the United States and now serves as vice president for democracy, rights and justice at the Ford Foundation. Moderator Cynthia McFadden started their panel with the obvious question: What was going on in your family?
Both women attribute their success to their mother, who in her early 20s came to the U.S. from India to get her PhD. “She raised us with the idea you have to serve,” said Kamala.
In the 1950s, said Maya, their mother studied at Berkeley and worked as a student organizer during the civil rights movement. The sisters grew up hearing her talk about the importance of standing up for justice and fairness. “She believed truly in everybody’s inherent potential,” said Maya. “The flipside of that is she also had impatience for mediocrity. She didn’t like us being idle.” For example they weren’t allowed to just sit and watch TV, said Kamala. They had to crochet afghans or be doing something else productive. From an early age, the sisters fought for what they perceived as injustice, like when they forced their apartment building to turn over an unused courtyard for children’s play. They were 8 and 10 years old.
After decades of working to end the brutal tradition of female genital cutting in Senegal, the human-rights activist realized: men are key to affecting real change in the region.
Amid three days of celebrating women, Sheryl WuDunn—who with her husband, Nicholas Kristoff, authored the book Half the Sky—reminded the audience on Saturday morning that when it comes to real change, women can’t go it alone. “We need men in anything we do to try to elevate women,” she said.
The panelists proved her point. Molly Melching was born in the U.S. but has lived in Senegal for nearly 40 years. As the founder of the organization Tostan, she has been instrumental in helping to end an insidious tradition: female genital cutting.
The key, Melching said, has been to take a human-rights approach, and focus on education. “As women started learning their rights and learned about the harm of not just female genital cutting but also child marriage, they started standing up and defending their rights,” she said. “I cannot emphasize enough the importance of women learning their rights.”
The fashion model and founder of Project FEED speaks on her mission to combat world hunger—which successfully fed every school child in Rwanda for a year.
“One in seven people are hungry.”
This sobering fact flashed over a video of smiling African children, as Project FEED founder Lauren Bush Lauren and MSNBC’s Alex Witt took the stage on day three of the Women in the World summit.
Lauren, now 27, was a student traveling with the United Nations World Food Program in 2005 when she became determined to find a way to curb the starvation she witnessed in many parts of the world. For children “born in Africa or Guatemala or different countries around the world suffering from poverty and hunger, it’s just a lottery,” she told Witt.
They fought for revolution but weren’t organized, getting pushed aside in the new government, says Kah Walla, a political leader in Cameroon. She and other leaders call on global women to regroup.
In a fiery call to arms Saturday morning, Kah Walla, the president of Cameroon People’s Party, said women need to get their act together and run for office around the globe. “One thing that happened in Egypt, women were not organized,” she said at the Women in the World summit. “They were in the street, they were fighting along with the men, but they were not part of formal organizations.” When it came to running the country, she said, organizations, not individuals, were enlisted.
“We don’t have critical mass,” she told moderator Andrea Mitchell on a panel about women world leaders. “As women, we need to understand it is in the politics—it’s politics that defines the economy, the social norms. Until we get political power, we are not going to make great strides. Every woman here needs to be involved in getting a woman elected. We need to be organized.”
Walla, an entrepreneur who ran for president of Cameroon in 2011, also talked about leadership in her native Africa, saying, “We have extraordinary potential. In the media you see these pictures—always the worst. But in Africa, we produce 9 percent of the world’s oil. Africa is not poor, it is poorly run.”
They're starting revolutions, opening schools, and fostering a brave new generation. From Detroit to Kabul, these women are making their voices heard.
Watch the best moments from our third annual Women in the World Summit, from Leymah Gbowee to Amy Chua.
When Sabatina James refused an arranged marriage, she sparked a violent war within her family—and a threat on her life. As told to Abigail Pesta.