The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Women in the World Summit unites female leaders for change

On April 4, over 2,500 women from across the globe packed into New York City’s Lincoln Center to participate in the Women in the World Summit. The gathering brought together some of today’s most influential female CEOs and leaders to engage in interviews about their successes and discuss women’s issues.

Among the diverse crowd of women speaking at the event, four of these females made particularly inspiring appearances. Tina Brown, editor-in-chief of Newsweek and The Daily Beast, selected these women to co-host because of their impressive contributions to people in need across the globe.

The co-hosts led the segment “Who I am here for,” in which each highlighted a woman they admired.

Dr. Hawa Abdi highlighted Gladys Kiranto from Kenya, who endured female genital cutting at age 12.

“Many a girl has bled to death after being cut,” said Abdi on behalf of Kiranto. “Other girls die due to infection. I was lucky enough to survive.”

Abdi built a free healthcare clinic in Somalia for internally displaced people and has received the Social Humanitarian and the Women of Impact awards.

Abdi’s influence in Somalia and her support for women everywhere is evident in the title of her recently released memoir, “Keeping Hope Alive: One Woman – 90,000 Lives Changed.”

Ai-jen Poo told the story of domestic worker Jennifer Bernard from Trinidad and Tobago. Bernard was denied payment if she didn’t work extensive hours and ultimately left her job and its poor working conditions.

Poo is the founder of an organization of minority caregivers, housekeepers and nannies in New York as well as the director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance.

“She’s definitely someone to look up to … being able to have so much motivation to organize all these programs to help others,” said Early College Senior May Wang.

Poo’s moving dedication and passion has gained her recognition as one of Newsweek’s 150 Fearless Women and one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World.

Maya L. Harris spoke of Delmy Palencia, an undocumented Mexican woman. Palencia, who participates in the movement titled “We Belong Together,” was estranged from her children and forced to leave the U.S. and her family.

In 2008, Maya L. Harris currently stands as the vice president of the Ford Foundation’s Democracy, Rights and Justice program. Her leadership has helped achieve one of the Ford Foundation’s primary goals to “fulfill the promise of human rights.”

“Harris sets a good example that if you set your mind to something, you can do it, no matter the gender roles society has placed on women,” said senior Casey Coxwell.

Harman showed her support for female positions in government by quoting Marianna Ibrahim, a political activist in Egypt, saying “We (women) just need to move from Tahrir square to the political square.”

Harman served as a U.S. representative for California for nine terms before resigning in 2011 to become the first female President, CEO and Director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

Harman’s commitment and achievements have been recognized by magazines such as Foreign Policy, which named her as one of the 50 most influential democrats on foreign policy.

On the second day of the Women in the World Summit, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton kicked off the program by declaring, “Women’s rights are human rights.” The fruits of the co-hosts’ labor demonstrates the value behind Clinton’s statement.

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