Women of the World

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Women in the World Summit, NY

It started 3 years ago with just 200 attendees, now magazine editor Tina Brown has turned her Women in the World summit into an event that now attracts thousands.

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Hillary Clinton once said it takes a village but a small city of women, (and a few prominent men) joined her at the third annual Women of the World Summit in New York City last week. Hosted by Newsweek magazine and its online counterpart, The Daily Beast, the summit, spearheaded by editor in chief of both publications, Tina Brown, covered just about every major issue facing women today and featured a raft of celebrities, luminaries, diplomats, politicians, journalists, policy makers, bloggers and activists, including Meryl Streep, Angelina Jolie, former US secretary of state, Madeline Albright, 2011 Nobel Peace Prize winner Leymah Gbowee and last but certainly not least: Oprah Winfrey.

Debuting on International Women’s Day, March 8, the summit carried over three days and focused on “first-person storytelling by trailblazing women from a broad spectrum of cultures”. So, sort of like a series of feminist TED talks. Topics covered included everything from women’s role in the Arab Spring, to female genital mutilation, to human trafficking, to Tiger mothering, (yep, Amy Chua was there with her daughters) to reproductive rights, to equal pay, to ‘having it all’.

Oprah Winfrey was one of five women honoured by Diane von Furstenberg at a ceremony recognising “women who are courageous and fight for justice”. The philanthropist and fashion designer gave Winfrey the "Lifetime Leadership" award for her dedication to improving social, economic, and political positions of women around the globe. Instead of talking about her career, Oprah veered off script and  introduced another recipient of the award, Jaycee Dugard. Journalist Diane Sawyer was supposed to introduce her but Oprah asked to do the honours instead, explaining that Dugard, who was abducted when she was 11 years old, repeatedly raped and held in captivity for 18 years by Phillip and Nancy Garrido, had inspired her.

Meryl Streep, Chelsea Clinton, Hillary Clinton and Tina Brown

Meryl Streep, Chelsea Clinton, Hillary Clinton and Tina Brown

 "Jaycee Dugard, I am so proud of you, your courage, your ability to press onward toward the future and toward a more victorious life for yourself and for using your courage your strength and your power to show the world that you care," said Winfrey.


Following her introduction, an emotional Dugard thanked Oprah and went on to speak about her JAYC Foundation, which aims to give support to families dealing with abduction.

Artist Panmela Castro, who battles against domestic violence; Chouchou Namegabe, who fights for women's issues in her native Congo; and Layli Miller-Muro who founded the Tahirih Justice Center, which protects women from human rights abuses, were also honoured.

Each honoree received a $50,000 award from the foundation. The awards were part of the festivities surrounding the Women In the World conference.

Video highlights of the summit can be found here.