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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.”

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.”

Brown also remarked on the unique urgency of speaking out for women’s rights at this particular political and cultural moment. “In the two years past, the most searing moments of our gathering have been hearing the stories of some of the bravest people on our planet who have a hard time getting heard,” she said, and noted the “inconceivable sacrifices” these women have made for the “western freedoms we often take for granted.”

Yet, she continued: “After the last few weeks of outrageous attempts to turn back the clock on the gains women have made, I've started to wonder if the paradigm has shifted,” she said. “It is we who now need to be fortified by the inspiration of the women of the Arab Spring and elsewhere...We should look to them, starting tonight.”

Brown also introduced the “formidable leaders of enduring change” who’ll bring their unique perspective and vision to the stage—including Clinton, Meryl Streep, Christine Lagarde, Valerie Jarrett, Madeleine Albright, Gloria Steinem, Angelina Jolie, Janet Napolitano and many more—along with the lesser-known trailblazers from Africa to Central America, who "don't make the headlines but live between the lines of news."

She nodded to the summit’s incredible growth over the past two years, as well as the launch of the Women in the World Foundation, under the guidance of Kim Azzarelli.

Among the crowd were college students from Barnard (to whom Brown offered “plenty of solidarity”) and NYU, Columbia and John Jay, along with West Point cadets and 30 female judges from 15 countries.