The Daily Beasts Women of the World summit was full of bold face names President Clinton, Secretaries of State Madeleine Albright, Condoleeza Rice and Hillary Clinton, Tina Brown, Charlie Rose, Melinda French Gates, Michelle Bachelet – but also of very real people (mostly women) who have made a difference in their communities. The website for the conference captures it best, http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsmaker/women-in-the-world/ but I learned so much listening to the compelling stories of personal courage and the courage to stand up for change. For me, virtually everyone I heard was insightful and thought provoking (even if I didnt agree with them).
One of the highlights was the opening panel, moderated by Christiane Amanpour, with four women on the frontlines of the struggle for womens rights in the Middle East. The women talked about the need to make womens rights a regional issue as well as the power of Facebook, where you are evaluated on your brains and your ideas.
A second was a panel on Making a Must Have Market, featuring two amazing artisans and businesswomen that I have been lucky enough to meet and work with through Vital Voices: Rebecca Lolosoli, who founded Umoja womens village in Kenya and Phelicia Dell from Haiti. Both women have received support from Diane Von Furstenberg for the amazing work, and DVF has featured both of their pieces on the runway. They are both global rock stars and my heroes.
Finally, a third highlight was a series of panels on women and leadership, moderated by MSNBCs Mika Brzezinski, and featuring some provocative speakers, who addressed the question why are women stuck in the marzipan layer – the layer right below the top. It gave me a lot to think about. I especially appreciated Senator Kirsten Gillibrands comments that women need to get off the sideline in politics or they wont like the decisions that are made.