Marcia G. Yerman – Reflecting, Reviewing, Reporting
Women in the World Summit 2012
On Saturday, March 10, the final morning of the Women in the World Third Annual Summit, The New York Times featured a four-column photo of Christine Lagarde, director of the International Monetary Fund with Chancellor Angela Merkel. The title was, “German Leader and I.M.F. Chief Split Over Debt.” Lagarde had been in Manhattan the previous evening for an interview before delegates at Women in the World, where she answered questions covering the global economy, the I.M.F., and her personal life challenges.
The conference formula, which employs the tagline “Stories + Solutions,” is to present an amalgam of visibly powerful women, emerging leaders, and courageous activists striving to make a difference. Partnering on the proceedings are organizations doing work to impact women’s lives, including Women for Women, Vital Voices, United Nations Foundation, and Virtue Foundation.
The Women in the World Foundation, which was launched in 2011, has created a network of over 300 nonprofits. In addition, it has launched “Get on the Map,” convened women judges to discuss gender and constitutional law, and put into play Women in the World on Campus.
This year, the event was opened up to the public, with ticket revenue going to the Women in the World Foundation. The choice of venue was influenced by the expected increase in turnout. At Lincoln Center, audience numbers were said to have hit 2,000. The morning when Secretary of State Hillary R. Clinton was on-site, the orchestra and balcony rings of the David A. Koch Theater were full. (Yes, that Koch, dryly noted by Gloria Steinem during her panel appearance.)
Leading the proceedings was Tina Brown, Editor in Chief of Newsweek and The Daily Beast, and the force behind the Women in the World brand.
Thursday night, which fell on International Women’s Day, showcased the issue of forced marriage for more than 500 British girls each year—promised to spouses in their parents’ countries of origin. Sabatina James, originally from Pakistan, told of telephone help lines that advised girls on flights out of the country to, “Put a spoon in your knickers, literally,” so that airport metal detectors would cause them to be alone in a room with authorities. Jasvinder Sanghera, founder of Karma Nirvana, related running away from her family to avoid a forced marriage. She was warned, “You are now dead in our eyes.” Sanghera has had no contact with them for thirty years.
Sandra Uwiringiy’imana, a photographer and survivor of the Gatumba genocide, movingly recounted her personal history to Charlie Rose. She told him, “Hatred doesn’t solve a thing. Justice must be fought for and demanded, even from a teen like myself.”