The Fifth Annual Women in the World Summit closed with a poignant call to action by key speakers from the three-day summit led by Russian girl band Pussy Riot and ending with Ukrainian pop star Ruslana singing her hit “This is Euphoria”. Women asked for political equality, gay rights, reproductive rights and an end to violence.
Saturday’s half day session began with a touching panel highlighting the work of two inner-city angels working to help at-risk kids. Tawanda Jones, who leads the Camden Sophisticated Sisters Drill Team that performed twice during the three-day event, brought a young girl whose father had been murdered in New Jersey. Sally Hazelgrove, who heads Crushers Club boxing group in inner-city Chicago brought a young man who she had once wrongly thought had been murdered in gang violence. “We’re helping kids deal with adult problems,” Jones told the audience.
The audience then heard from young activists in Pakistan who are working to put an end to honor killings and the extreme violence against women in their country. Oscar winning filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy showed clips of her latest project that will expose some of the offenders.
Filmmaker Roger Ross Williams then joined two LGBT activists from Uganda and Nigeria for a panel on how homosexuality can lead to life sentences in Africa. His film “God Loves Uganda” shows how many American missionaries are leading the anti-gay sentiment in his country.
Tina Brown then interviewed American Ambassador Samantha Power who recounted the backstory of a number of diplomatic issues in which she has played an integral role.
Additional panels included discussions on India’s invisible women, Diane Von Furstenberg’s annual DVF award choices, and back-to-back panels on the perception of beauty, including an eye-opening look at what pop culture’s over-sexualization of women is doing to the psyche of young girls. Sponsor Toyota then presented its “Mothers of Invention” winners with a $50,000 grant to continue their work.
Barbara Walters took the stage to interview Nene Sy, a young high school student who was chosen from the Young Women’s Leadership School of East Harlem to interview first lady Michelle Obama. Walters teased her that she could be her journalistic protégé but Nene has aspirations to be a doctor instead. The last panel of the day was called “How Hip is Your Hijab”. Three young Muslim women, including Team USA’s star fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, described both the level of discrimination and the power the hijab head scarf gives them.
Brown then recapped the summit’s highlights, including the mantra “don’t cry, strategize” and the now-famous photo of IMF head Christine LaGarde and Hillary Clinton clasping their hands in the air with a call to redefine just what being “cool women” means.