- Social Media
- Active Citizenship
- Good Giving
- Corporate Responsibility
- Be Fearless
I had the honor of attending TEDWomen last week. The conference's goal was to answer the question: “How are women and girls reshaping the future”?
It was a day and half of intense emotions that ranged from laugh-so-hard you may cry to the other end of the spectrum where your heart is aching from a story you just heard that you actually did cry. The speakers ranged from activist artists like Morley using their voices as an instrument of change to fascinating speakers such as Beverly & Dereck Joubert of National Geographic who are working to conserve wildlife and influence public policy.
With so many takeaways from the conference, the ones that stood out most to me were examples of how one person’s story can cause people take action in an effort to change the world. Here are a few of the stories that inspired me.
Sejal Hathi: Founder of the International Nonprofit Girls Helping Girls Sejal first decided she needed a way to converse with other girls that were experiencing the same insecurities and issues she felt when she was first diagnosed with anorexia nervosa. When she was initially diagnosed, she only had her father to talk to and felt disconnected. She decided she needed to create a network to foster dialogue from a girl’s perspective in order to find a solution. Girls Helping Girls is a mentoring program for other girls to develop new programs in their own communities or with similar girls from around the world based on their passions. More than 30,000 girls have launched their own projects around the world to bring change in their communities with programs such as Empower A Girl and Sisters4Peace.
Halla Tomasdottir: Co-Founder of Audur Capital in Iceland Halla believes that if women were a key influence in the financial sector in Iceland when their financial crisis emerged, the outcome would have been a lot different. Here’s why:
- Risk Awareness: Women are more apt to understand all risks and not invest in what is still unknown.
- Straight Talk: Tell it how it is (no hiding of information that may or may not seem relevant).
- Emotional Capital: Emotional due diligence done before action is taken.
- Profit with Principles: Take action which results in positive social benefits.
- Balance: Don’t have to choose between business and philanthropy. Just do good business.
She was not indicating that women are better than men; it was how a different approach may have resulted in a different outcome if women were at the table during the crisis.
Tony Porter: Educator, Activist and Lecturer to End Violence Against Women Growing up in the Bronx, he had to prove to others at early age what being a “man” meant. In his story, he speaks of a man being defined as “being in charge, not showing emotions except anger, leading by violence and seeing women as objects and not as human beings.” His story has led him to take action to end violence against women in the US and around the world. He is now a lecturer for the U.S. State Department and has done extensive work in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Jody Williams: Nobel Peace Laureate Jody won a Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts to eradicate landmines. Now, she is collaborating with other female Nobel peace laureates to empower women to fight violence, injustice and inequality. She indicated how it’s time for all of us to reevaluate what peace really means. Peace is not just about hope anymore. If we want to redefine human security, it’s about taking action and having strength in numbers to make significant change.
My favorite presentation of the conferece, though, was from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on how women and girls are currently reshaping the future and the opportunities that still remain. A great quote from her:
Women’s equality is not just a moral issue, it’s not just a humanitarian issue, it is not just a fairness issue. It is a security issue, it is a prosperity issue, it is a peace issue.
The day and half just reaffirmed the belief that one person, one story and even one single action can make a difference to change the world. So the next time you think what you do won't matter, think again and take action.