by Crystal Ogar
Over the past weekend I was lucky enough to be a part of the third Women in the World Summit (Stories + Solutions) held in New York City at Lincoln Center, and co-hosted by Tina Brown (editor-in chief of Newsweek & The Daily Beast), Lauren Bush Lauren, Leymah Gbowee, Nizan Guanaes, Jane Harman, Maya L. Harris, Mellody Hobson, Judith Rodin, Sheryl Sandberg, Meryl Streep, and Diane Von Furstenberg)
Newsweek and The Daily Beast put on a 2 and a half day event filled with fearless women, from celebrities to presidents to prime ministers to CEOs to women who are changing not only their world, but the world at large.
On the first day right as I was walking onto the red carpet (!) I was able to meet Madeleine Albright who I met again in the theater; she plopped down next to me before programming started and asked who I was!
Among the women who spoke one of my favorites and most inspiring was Leymah Gbowee, the Nobel Peace laureate who armed with women in white held delegates of Liberia hostage during a time of war and would not let them out until they had signed a peace treaty. She boldly told us that “it’s time for women to stop being so politely angry.” And that “We have to be our own Gandhi, we have to be our own King, we have to be our own Mandela.” Wise words from an amazing woman.
Some stories were hard to hear, like that of “Esther” who was forced into prostitution at the age of 16 under the guise of a job and how she thankfully was able to escape. She couldn’t reveal her identity because her captors are still at large and could cause her harm.
I heard the story of Sandra Uwiringiyimana, who’s a brave genocide survivor; spokesperson for Foundation of Hope Ministries; a wonderful photographer and an amazing new friend. Who after 30 minutes of meeting we decided that we HAD to meet Oprah and we did. Sandra, Julie Zeilinger (the founder ofthefbomb.org )and I became fast friends at The DVF Awards which were held at the U.N. Not only did we get to meet Oprah, but we were also lucky enough to meet Holland Taylor who was incredibly kind and Ingrid Michaelson as well.
It was a humbling and amazing experience to be in the same room as these wonderful women, at the dinner event with Christine Lagarde, lunch with Barbara Walter and Diane Von Furstenberg to name a few.
Then it was Saturday morning, time for The Digital Lives of Girls panel of which I was speaking on with 4 wonderful women:
Noorjahan Akbar, Co-Founder and Member, Young Women for Change
Shelby Knox, Director of Women’s Rights Organizing. Change.org
Emily-Anne Rigal, Founder and Director, WeStopHate.org
Julie Zeilinger, Founder and Editor, TheFBomb.org
And moderated by Chelsea Clinton. The panel went incredibly well and the audience was so excited and inspired to see all of us young feminists in action. As we left the stage, I was approached by the one and only Meryl Streep (who I had asked for a picture earlier) and she told me we could take our picture! She also thanked me for the work I’m doing at SPARK! After the panel ended so many people who had enjoyed our segment came up to me to tell me how excited they were about SPARK’s Toy Aisle Action Project and couldn’t wait to get involved. Tracey Ullman the fabulous comedian was also pretty jazzed about what SPARK’s doing and thinks we should take the Women in the World over to London!
I left New York feeling inspired, empowered and ready to change the world. And you will too if you watch the summit. Hilary Clinton left us with a call to action. This weekend wasn’t only just about stories, but about the solutions as well. So let’s get out there and start (or continue) to find answers to the problems that we still face right now as women in the world.