I’m delighted to announce that Newsweek and The Daily Beast are hosting the first-ever international edition of the Women in the World Summit! And where better to host our premier global summit than Brazil, the giant of the Americas. The summit will take place on Dec. 4, 2012, in São Paulo, the irrepressible megalopolis that is the nerve center and engine room of Brazil.
The Brazilian poet Vinicius de Moraes wrote that beauty is fundamental. Well, with the poet's permission, so is courage. That’s why we’re once again assembling savvy, charismatic, and absolutely fearless women from many nations and walks of life.
Nothing resonated more powerfully for us in the fight for the dignity and empowerment of women than the story of Malala Yousafzai in Pakistan this past October. As she recovers from the brutal assault that so nearly snuffed out her extraordinary young life, Malala is a reminder that demands for women’s access to education, health care, and basic human rights must be heard, that each triumph of a young girl must be celebrated and every setback confronted.
That is why we are taking Women in the World to Brazil, a country where a female dynamo is president, where two more sit on the Supreme Court, and where the number of women breadwinners has doubled in a decade. Twice as many women hold top executive positions than they did a year ago. More Brazilian women earn Ph.D.s every year than do men. But it’s not all good news. Electoral politics is still mostly a men’s club. Equal pay for equal work is a dream deferred. Domestic violence is a national epidemic.
Even in the United States, only 19 women head fortune 500 companies, only 16.8 percent of Congressional seats are held by women, and social problems such as sex trafficking remain rampant. And all this in a nation that has yet to elect a female president!
At the Brazil summit, we will aim to make the dynamism of Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff, go viral through the voices of courageous individuals whose stories are as compelling as they are memorable. We’ll feature remarkable Brazilians who are challenging hidebound habits to reinvent their country. Women like Dona Anna, the heroine of the favelas of Rio de Janeiro whose 50 years of activism brought first water, then electricity, then a self-started school to her community where drug battles were so intense they could only be pacified last year by full-scale police intervention. And then there is Xuxa, the working-class girl who became a model and a TV star and now a force for social change. On the international front, Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will join us. And Dalia Ziada, the fiery Egyptian activist, will tell us about her battle for women’s rights ever since Tahrir Square erupted. We’ll listen as one mother from Bolivia tells the worst tale that a mother could fathom, about a daughter stolen by human traffickers and her fight to rescue her. These are stories of bravery and resolve from women whose vision and love and the obstinate will to triumph over adversity makes them inspiring to meet.
We hope you’ll visit The Daily Beast to see our coverage of the event and watch video highlights of each of the panel discussions and interviews. And we hope you’ll be inspired to join us in New York in April for our annual Women in the World Summit if you like what you see. Each year, the summit becomes a living social network, linking women in need to those who want to help. Just last year, we enlarged the footprint of the summit by launching the Women in the World Foundation to give Women of Impact Awards and multiplied the innumerable ways to interact with our Women in the World website, on The Daily Beast, via Facebook, and on Twitter using the hashtag #wiwbrazil.
None of this would be possible without my generous co-hosts: Nizan Guanaes, Diane von Furstenberg, Vania Somavilla, Gloria Maria, and Juliana Azevedo. And we are so grateful to our corporate sponsors, without whom this event could not have happened: Presenting Sponsors: Proctor & Gamble and Vale; Supporting Sponsor: The Coca-Cola Company. And special thanks to ABC Grupo and Tudo.In the words of President Rousseff, “For many, women are half of heaven, but we want to be half of Earth as well, with equal rights and opportunities, free from all forms of discrimination and violence.”