As its name suggests, the Women in the World Summit focuses on defiant and determined women who are making this planet a safer and more empowered place for their gender.
But, because he is such an ardent advocate for women’s issues, Jon Stewart was invited to take to the main stage. The usually sardonic comic had a surprisingly hopeful message to share.
In its fifth year, the Women in the World Summit -- sponsored by the Daily Beast -- hosted more than 100 female leaders in New York City, including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, U.N. Women executive director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and former Pussy Riot band members who continue to oppose Putin’s authoritarianism.
Stewart moderated a panel on Friday that focused on the role of women after the Arab Spring. The guests included representatives from Egypt, Yemen, Iraq and Libya who each shared what the revolutions mean to their specific countries.
Dalia Ziadi, director of the Ibn Khaldun Center in Cairo, said that women’s voices in Egypt -- where they were subjected to female genital mutilation and the highest rate of sexual violence –- were the loudest. Nadia Al-Sakkaf, editor-in-chief of the Yemen Times, expressed how the Arab Spring gave subjugated groups the chance to speak out, something they never thought possible.
Stewart's characteristic humor made an appearance when he said that Egypt could potentially "catch up" to America's record of female presidents. But, for the most part, he let the panelists own the stage.
Backstage, while talking to the Daily Beast, the late-night host explained how he first got engaged with the Arab Spring, and offered an optimistic message on how even more progress can be made.
"I still naively believe that we can all make a difference," Stewart told the Daily Beast. "We can all make a difference even just by learning more."