Women in the World‘s 7th annual summit took place from April 6-8 this year, and I had the privilege of attending Day 3. I am grateful to Global Health Corps for allowing me the opportunity to attend an event with such prominent female figures in the world, ranging from journalists and activists, to fashion designers, and professional sports players, just to name some for example. I wanted to share with y’all what I’ve learned from each of these inspiring individuals (separated in multiple posts otherwise it will just be WAY too long haha). If I could record the speeches from every speaker, my phone battery would’ve died really quickly, but I jotted down the gist of quotes that really resonated with me, so I hope you enjoy!
The first speaker was Diane von Furstenberg, a legendary designer who spoke about individuals who inspire her, as well as the philanthropic work that she’s done in NYC over the years. She started the DVF Awards in 2010 where she’s honored four women every year who exemplify leadership, strength, and courage in their commitment to women’s causes. I thought it was fascinating how she was one of the largest contributors to the creation of The High Line, one of my favorite tourist spots in the city! Some key quote takeaways from her interview were:
“The most important relationship you should have is with yourself.”
“Don’t be afraid to let your strength come out before tragedy.”
Listen to Diane’s advice for women everywhere: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c0OC3UJs_pw
The second was Etharin Cousin, the Executive Director of the World Food Programme, the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide. She spoke about Boko Haram and how people in Africa who are normally self-reliant can not work or move because of fear, and how they are reliant on global assistance. She also spoke of the daunting presence of global warming and El Niño affecting East Africa and Latin America causing droughts and therefore hunger, leading populations in these areas to require global assistance until they can help themselves again. She has been in the field and has met these individuals and has shared that these people want to be self-sufficient and independent, but because of these factors out of their control, they need our help, and fortunately the US is the biggest contributor to their operations. One of her last statements was, “Refugees helped build America and Europe” and it resulted in a roar of applause in the audience, especially with what is happening with the Syria crisis and how people should not fear refugees and blame them for the radical attacks that are happening around the world.
View her talk on the UN’s World Food Programme here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZNtrABiBVyg
To my surprise, the next speaker was a male speaker, Ajay Banga, the President and CEO of MasterCard. He spoke about the fact that nearly 2.5 billion people in the world live without a legal form of identification, with a majority of them being women. He spoke proudly of his wife and children and how he supports women and believes that having a form of identity is a step in the right direction towards gender parity and income equality.
Listen to Ajay explain MasterCard’s initiative for ensuring that everyone has a form of identity: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UF19NDcRAJY
One of the most moving presentations was the one titled “Women on the Run,” with Lilia Aguilar, former member of Mexican Congress, America Ferrera, and Astrid Elias, a kidnapping survivor. I knew that drug wars and access to clean water were issues in some areas of Latin America, but this talk opened my eyes to something completely different; they talked about the issue of femicide and violence against females in Central America leading women and girls fleeing to the US. It was unbelievable to hear that one would face jail time for stealing a cow, but would most likely not face jail time for femicide or raping a girl. America mentioned that families were faced with little to no options of hoping their daughters would find safety in the US and entrust coyotes to smuggle them into the States (with the risk that the girls would still get abused, kidnapped, or raped or even killed while in transit). These were some key quotes I took from this conversation:
“Every 4 hours a woman is attacked or killed in Mexico.”
“I’m not going to America for the American dream; I’m going to America because I’m fleeing the nightmares that’s in my country.”
“There’s a complete lack of humanity for people like Astrid. There’s tens of thousands of people like Astrid. We can’t let politics dictate the narrative.”
“I don’t want there to be any more impunity, not just in Guatemala, but in any country.”
Listen to the compelling and moving story of Astrid and how we can’t turn a blind eye to women and young girls like her: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eNVmhxjH7v4