Keeping with its stated theme of "Reshaping the Future," TEDWomen highlighted women and girls worldwide as "powerful innovators and architects of change."
It featured over 50 speakers, including Nobel Peace Prize winner Jody Williams, playwright Eve Ensler, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, media mogul Ted Turner, Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, our very own Arianna Huffington -- and a surprise appearance by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
We were at the conference and blogged live throughout the two-day event, offering minute-by-minute coverage of the speakers, sessions and activities. Read our updates below.
For background, also read HuffPost Tech editor Bianca Bosker's interview with TEDWomen co-host Pat Mitchell, the president and CEO of the Paley Center for Media.
She talks about how she thought of herself as a head, not a body, which led her to writing the Vagina Monologues. When listening to other women's stories there was always a moment when they left their bodies. At 40, she hated her stomach and life became about getting rid of it. The more she spoke about it the more objectified the various parts of her body felt. She visited the Congo, the women had holes in their bodies, fistula, holes in their souls. Found out she had cancer. Suddenly she had a body. That was cut, pricked, punctured, and organs that was scanned and had tubes shoved down it. Cancer exploded the wall of her disconnection. The crisis in her body was the crisis in the world and it was happening now."If you are divided from your body, you are also divided from the body of the world."
- Philip Shepherd
Now she loves the dirt on her legs, and runs in circles in the rain.
Starts by asking audience, do you remember what you wanted to be at 17? When she was 17 she wanted to be a biker chick, race cars, be a cowgirl and be Mowgli from The Jungle Book, because they were all about being free.
On her 17th birthday, her parents gave her one driving lesson. And, on her 17th birthday she accompanied her little sister to go see an eye specialist she thought because that's what "big sisters do." So she got her eyes "tested for fun." The eye specialist noticed it was her birthday. When he asked her what she was doing for her birthday, she told him, "I am going to learn how to drive." There was an awful silence and he turned to her mother and said, "she doesn't know." On her 17th birthday, she found out she was legally blind.
At 3 1/2 years old, Casey's parents made a bizarre decision not to send her to a special needs schools, not to use labels, and not to place limitations on her in any way. They decided to tell Casey that she could see. Her father taught her how to sail and taught her to believe and feel the wind in her face. For next 11 years she didn't want anyone to know she couldn't see. It's extraordinary how far belief can take you, she says. Her eyes decided "enough" and dropped. She found herself in front of an HR manager at 28 years old and simply said, "I am sorry, I can't see and I need help." She was urged that "it's time" to start being herself. So she decided she would be Mowgli and be an elephant handler -- and they tracked 1,000 kilometers across India and raised enough money through that for 6,000 cataract services.
Cars, elephants and bikes aren't about freedom, Casey says. Being yourself is being free -- she just needed vision and belief in herself.
She urges us to stop with labels."Disability is like the elephant in the room."
Curiously presenting without any visuals (not good for my type of learning style) -- I found this on TEDWomen's site: Lewis advocates for the victims of Africa's HIV/AIDS pandemic. He believes that gender lies at the heart of the problem—and the solution.
Ah, so that's what he's talking about..
Sally is President and CEO of the Skoll Foundation -- she said at age of 10 she gave up reading fairytales and picked up biographies of women like Jane Addams, Florence Nightingale and Eleanor Roosevelt. Didn't think of them as social entrepreneurs, but they were. They weren't terribly beautiful, but they were smart, competent and courageous.
Today she works with Jeff Skoll, a man who believes in the power of stories, what we care about and what we care to do with what we care about. Now, Osberg doesn't have to look to history for these stories of amazing women. Women like Cecilia Flores Oebanda who has made human trafficking everyone's problem and so she's made it everyone's solution. Today, ports in the Philippines that were once safe areas for trafficking are now havens of hope for victims.
Ann Cotton -- found herself in Zimbabwe and now provides educational opportunities for girls in Subsahran Africa.
An educated girl: earns up to 25 percent more is likely and is three times less likely to become HIV positive.
For women social entrepreneurs it's not about how big you are or your budget, it's how big a difference you can make. It's not about being dominant in any space or place but how you cross boundaries and build connections. It's not about how powerful you are, but how you empower others, Osberg says."Heroism is a matter of integrity... becoming more and more at each step, ourselves."
People don't aggregate around demographics, they aggregate over taste. Women outnumber men in use of social networking categories and spend more time in social media space. If social media is dominating old media, and women are dominating new media, does that mean women will take over global media? She doesn't think this will happen, but women will be responsible for driving a stake through the heart of genres like the "Chick Flick," which assumes media success based on gender and instead will create and demand media based on info aggregated from taste communities online.
Donna's father died when she was 3. Anne Klein died when Donna was 25 and then became the face of Anne Klein. After running Anne Klein, she wanted to design clothes for herself and friends and then her daughter (DKNY). She originally thought it would be tiny company, but it grew into her empire. Birth and death has always been a part of Donna's life. She used to go to the beach and would talk to a rock that looked like it had eyes and she'd ask the rock, "Where are you finding your peace in this amazing world we live in?" One day the rock disappeared. Donna viewed this as a loss. When her mother passed away, Donna needed to run a show. When her husband Stephan got sick - he was the love of her life. Donna was always searching - would juice and do yoga. When Stephan died his doctor told Donna, "whatever you do you must take care of the nurses." So she had a vision - where do we fine the calm in the chaos? Urban Zen. She says she needed to address people, not just dress them. Thus the Urban Zen Foundation was born in Stephan's studio and another birth that came out of a death.
Compassion enhances immune system, allows us to be more resilient. If it's so good, why don't we train our health care providers in compassion so that they can really transform suffering? Why don't we vote for people in our governments based on compassion so that we can have a more caring world?
Aicha El-Wafi, the mother of Zacarias Moussaoui, who was convicted of conspiring to kill citizens of the US as part of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
Phyllis Rodriguez's son Greg perished in the attack on the World Trade Center.
The two women have since become friends. They see the humanity, the motherhood and the pain in each other.
Aicha El-Wafi lived a difficult life, which she described through tear-filled eyes on the TEDWomen stage. She was married at 14, lost a child at 15 and just couldn't bear it when she heard about Zacarias. She now urges women not to marry young.
Every Iranian artist is political, she says. You're facing censorship, torture and at times, execution. If you're living in exile like her, you face a deep longing for your home. Iranians are fighting two battles: one to defend their image and another against the Iranian regime -- "our atrocious government," she says, "that has done every crime to stay in power." Culture is a form of resistance. Read more about Shirin Neshat. Soft spoken and fierce.
Then calls us confused pacifists before joking that she never imagined she'd see a ticking clock outside of her body. TEDWomen monitors the time of each of its talks -- a reference to suicide bombs?
"Do not fear what has blown up. If you must, fear the unexploded." - Suheir Hammad
Make the kitchen table the most important tool in the kitchen. Buy local fruits and veggies, and teach your children to cook. When they feel invested in the food, they'll eat things (like green beans) they might usually reject.
Exquisite woman - she talks about wonderful women around the world, gender equity, and the monsters inside of us. Our capacity to do terrible things. Most dangerous animal on the planet is the adolescent male. So critical that we invest in our girls and find ways to honor them. Have to remember our men and boys feel disempowered, unable to provide.
Moral imagination: Ability to put yourself in another's shoes and lead from that perspective.
Urges us not to forget young men, especially those in funds. We have it wrong when we think income is the link. As humans we want to be visible.
As some of you know, I am currently managing our Living, Health and Religion sections. In addition, I've been helping out on Impact and Education. This makes it hard to liveblog!!!
While I was working with my associate editors, Naomi Klein spoke. Learn about her and her work.
Then Jody Williams spoke. Learn about her and her Nobel Peace Prize win on her Wiki page.
Jacqueline Novogratz up now..
She speaks of reasserting Arab heritage -- even while they're making changes within the culture. Globalizing the local and localizing the global. Tradition is more important not less important.
Rufus shows "the most terrifying chart imaginable for a new parent," which shows that average happiness declines until children go to college! They asked, is there a silver lining to the happiness study? Elizabeth Mitchell did some investigation and found that average happiness doesn't speak to moment to moment experience -- teeniest thing can raise you to a high state of happiness and the next teeniest thing can plummet you to the depths of despair. Average happiness goes up before and after children, but your moment to moment experience is much more shallow without them.
Alisa talks about her miscarriage -- how she went through a mourning process and wanted to crawl into a hole. She didn't know how to enter back into surrounding community. Felt a lot of shame and was embarrassed that she failed at what she's genetically engineered to do. She worried, if she couldn't have another child, what would that mean for her marriage and her identification as a woman.
Sad: 74 percent of women feel that having a miscarriage is partly their fault.
Rufus founded Nerve.com, but has since moved away from the site which dubs itself the "cultural center of the internet for sex, love, and culture" to talk about the realities of parenting on Babble.com. They have charted their love for their child over time - love is a process, not binary. Hilarious. I hope their babies never see this. Perhaps this was Taboo #1?
Taboo #2: You can't talk about how lonely having a baby can be. Alisa felt shut in and shut out when she got home from the hospital and didn't expect the feelings of isolation and loneliness that she experienced. She called her sister and asked her, "Why didn't you tell me I would feel these ways?" Her sister said, "It's just not something you want to say to a mother who is having a baby for the first time." They believe you must share these truths with other new mothers.
Talking about looking for art, breathing art, and sharing the love of art. Perhaps it's what keeps them together?
Beautiful -- The buzzed headed Toshi Reagon has been long supported by Ani Difranco and other feminist singer/songwriters. Gorgeous to see her, an out lesbian, and her mother,Bernice Johnson Reagon, a social activist who founded the all-women, all-African American ensemble, Sweet Honey on the Rock, on stage together singing so passionately.
"If I leave and get married, I am taking my cow!" -- a young woman said. Her father let her stay and go to school because her father couldn't bear to be apart from the COW, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says. I am fully impressed with this woman. She suggests visiting vitalvoices.org, girleffect.org -- there are no limits of what we can do together for women and girls.
She says Elizabeth Edwards would have really loved being here. We've lost a voice and an active blogger who was willing to put herself on the line time and time again. She sees women like that all the time when she travels the world -- women who might never hear of this conference. There are many women who are living the kind of life experiences and involvements that bring us here.
Women's equality is not just a women's issue, an equality issue or a fairness issue. It's a security issue, a prosperity issue and a peace issue. The subjugation of women is a threat to the security of the world and our country, she says.
So amazing to see her on stage -- we are so blessed to have her here. Women and girls as agents of change. She has made the rights of women and girls are a central tenet of American foreign policy, she says. Where women flourish, our values are reflected.
Dr. Hawa Abdi, a gynecologist, made it to the TEDWomen stage after quite a debacle. What an amazing woman. Both she and her daughter were trained in Ukraine.
These speakers went way over my head, they spoke about atrazine levels and how it affects a growing fetus. Penelope explained the connection between the external environment and INTERNAL environmentalism. Definitely something to Google later. Hayes' expertise is in looking at frogs' gonads to understand how our environment is affecting our babies -- even before they're born.
After covering yesterday's TEDWomen events having flew into DC from LA on a redeye and went straight to the conference, I went to my hotel and had a nice snooze. For updates on this morning's sessions (which I missed as a result of listening to my boss's advice!) check out the TEDWomen Twitter feed.
Queen of the blogosphere, Arianna Huffington graced the TEDWomen stage during dinner to urge all of us women to SLEEP --- something we've been covering regularly on HuffPost Living.
She wants to know how can we be inspired and emboldened on a daily basis. She says, "This is a room of type a, sleep-deprived women!" She began her journey of rediscovering the value of sleep after she fainted from exhaustion, banged her head on the table and had to get stitches over her eye. She says, the key to an inspiring productive life is getting enough sleep. We're the new feminists, she says, let's sleep our way to the top, literally.
Sleep deprivation has become a virility symbol. There's an epidemic of sleep deprivation one-upmanship. Most people think it means they’re so productive and busy, but they’re not, Huffington says. A high IQ does not mean you’re a good leader. Being a good leader means being able to see the iceberg before seeing the Titanic. There are multiple crises in the world at the moment and what’s going to bring more joy, gratitude, effectiveness is also what is best for the world. Shut your eyes and discover the great ideas that lie inside you. Discover the power of sleep.
First Lady Koroma explains that Sierra Leonne is considered a post-conflict country. In the past the purpose of the First Lady was to lead humanitarian philanthropic acts and act as housewives who supported their husbands. Like First Lady Muthurika, she feels like a mother to the nation and a grandmother and sister to younger women. She views her role as complementing The President’s efforts and by being a first lady she has influence.
First Lady Muthurika of Malawi sees herself as a wife to her husband, a mother to her biological children and the other children she looks after in the house, and as a mother to the nation. She is a campaigner of women’s issues specifically clean water and issues of education for girls and women so they can make informed decisions.
She became passionate about it because she was brought up in African environment and saw problems that women face like dying because of lack of medical facilities while giving birth. She says if you lost friends that way, anyone would take up that challenge to make sure no one dies while giving birth. Apparently 807 out of every 100,000 women dies while giving birth - so basically 1 in 8. Who wouldn’t do something about it if you have privilege and power to change that scenario, Muthurika asks. The other problems being a massive amount of HIV-positive children and adults and 1 million orphaned children.
Her other main objective is education reform. Walking throughout the villages in Malawi on a weekday she often asks a school-age child why they aren’t in school. She says they will say “I am too hungry to go to school” or “I have no clothes to wear to go to school” or “I have no notebook no pencil to use."
In Malawi girls' enrollment in school is only 26 percent -- she does her best to encourage them to stay in school. Improper sanitation facilities can be a roadblock in keeping girls in school during their menstrual cycle, and so they drop out.
So.... last night during dinner there was no wifi -- typical for a TED conference where the "technology" tends to have some snafus.
Here's my update:
Speaker Pelosi's advice to young women:Women are there to get a job done. It's not about power unless it’s for a purpose. Women get it done with value-based actions and what's best for our children.
She wants women to take responsibility for government and politics, "because we need you".
The challenges that we face are so great, she says, men have been in charge for so long. I think there’s room for some other models (i.e. women). "Know your power" -- it's important for young women to see other women in power.