Vital Voices at Women in the World: Stories and Solutions

We were so proud to partner with the incredible Tina Brown and The Daily Beast on the second annual Women in the World: Stories and Solutions summit in New York. Check out the packed agenda for the three-day gathering, held at the Hudson Theater on March 10-12.


March 10

On the opening night of the summit, we heard from World Bank Managing Director Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and others on their female heroes. Vital Voices Board member, designer Diane von Furstenberg, spoke about Global Ledership Network member and 2010 honoree Rebecca Lolosoli, "she is fearless. She is my hero."

Mayor Michael Bloomberg offered welcoming remarks, and we were wowed by Oscar-nominated actress Shohreh Aghdashloo's reading of testimonies from women protesters in Egypt's January revolution. Charlie Rose then interviewed 2010 Global Trailblazer, Melinda French Gates of the Gates Foundation. At the opening dinner, Editor in Chief of Newsweek and The Daily Beast, Tina Brown, interviewed former President Bill Clinton. Watch a clip from the interview.


March 11

On the second day of the summit, honor crimes, acid attacks and human trafficking were among the central themes. Actress and advocate Ashley Judd spoke poignantly about the crime of human trafficking in the United States. She was joined by Malika Saar of The Rebecca Project on a panel; Saar explained why the phenomenon of human trafficking and slavery is spreading so rapidly as one of the most lucrative illegal industries: "we are seeing girls sold instead of drugs because girls are seen as reusable."

Author and Editor Sir Harold Evans moderated a panel with two Global Leadership Network members, Mexican journalist Lydia Cacho and Congolese radio journalist Chouchou Namegabe. Both women described the tremendous risk they take in dangerous environments to publicize corruption and violence against women.

Vital Voices President and CEO, Alyse Nelson, introduced a panel on expanding small local enterprises to medium-sized, sustainable businesses. In her remarks, Alyse noted that the world is waking up to a new reality: "Women don't need the world's help - the world needs women's help." Vital Voices Global Leadership Network members Phelicia Dell and Rebecca Lolosoli, entrepreneurs from Haiti and Kenya, respectively, then joined our Board member Diane von Furstenberg on the panel. Diane spoke about her relationships with both women, saying of her involvement "Once you start helping, you're committed. You're family." Rebecca's necklaces have been featured in DVF stores and on the runway, and Phelicia won the DVF Handbag Competition.

Phelicia and Rebecca's products were featured for sale in the Women and the World Boutique, set up beautifully by our Entrepreneurs in Handcrafts team. We're so excited that all products were sold by the end of the summit. Congratulations to Rebecca and Phelicia!

Discussions on women's role in China, the use of technology for development, and women's workplace struggle to move from middle management to senior level positions held our attention in afternoon sessions. Cherie Blair of the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women made the case for advancing women to top positions, "diversity leads to creativity." Ebay CEO John Donahoe agreed, "if you don't have diversity, you have less competition."

Before heading to the United Nations for the second annual DVF Awards, we heard from Somalian heroine, Dr. Hawa Abdi, who founded a health clinic to serve more than 90,000 internally displaced people in her home country. You can support Dr. Abdi and her team by making a donation today. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton closed the second day of the summit with an appeal for the global recognition of women's rights: "Respect for women and girls is not a Western value, it is a universal principle."

We were so proud to join Board member Diane von Furstenberg at the second annual DVF Awards, where Global Leadership Network members Kakenya Ntaiya of Kenya and Sohini Chakraborty of India were recognized for their work. Each woman received a $50,000 grant to further her work. Sohini and Kakenya joined fellow honorees Taryn Davis, Elizabeth Smart, and Secretary Clinton, who was presented a DVF Award by her daughter, Chelsea. In her closing remarks, Diane thanked all for a beautiful a