Around Town: Tina Brown’s Women in the World

by Kathryn Sanders

Women came together in a series of panel discussions focused on social change.

Margaret Brennan with Dr. Fozia Alvi and Tania Rashid (photo courtesy of Women in the World)

Last week, accomplished women from various nationalities, careers and political parties gathered for the fifth annual Women in the World D.C. Salon, hosted by journalist and author Tina Brown.

“Time ran out on brutish, macro-misogyny,” Brown said while opening the event. The night highlighted female activists and was held, fittingly, at the United States Institute of Peace on the eve of International Women’s Day.

So much has happened since last year’s salon in Washington. In a post-Weinstein world, women have played an increasingly bigger role in the activist scene. To encourage this work, Brown has hosted a range of Women in the World gatherings.

Billed as “the premier showcase for women of impact and for the men who champion them,” these events celebrate females who are leading social movements by bringing them to the stage to tell their stories. The goal is to inspire the audience to get involved in the issues that matter most to them.

And this year’s event did just that. Brown began the evening by interviewing Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund. She spoke about the link between sexual harassment and a woman’s financial standing, the #MeToo movement and the importance of love in her life.

“I think we’re short of love,” Lagarde said. “For me it has been what has fueled my confidence and my energy. What’s more needed than confidence and energy?”

And Lagarde was only one of many talented women in attendance.

One such attendee was this year’s “Toyota Mother of Invention Program” winner, Danya Sherman. The George Washington University student received the honor, along with $50,000 from Toyota, for inventing KnoNap (be sure to check out their Kickstarter, launching in April), a napkin that detects common date rape drugs in beverages.

KnoNap isn’t just about product, though; it’s also about education. Sherman feels you can’t protect yourself against an issue with which you’re not familiar, so she plans on working with police departments and college campuses to raise awareness of drug-facilitated sexual assault. “Our vision for the future is to have individuals empowered in social settings, so that no one else has to say #MeToo,” Sherman said.

One of panel discussions, moderated by CBS News’ Margaret Brennan, focused on the plight of the Rohingya people waiting in refugee camps in Bangladesh. Dr. Fozia Alvi talked about her work in the camps there, and Tania Rashid, a reporter for PBS NewsHour who has covered the crisis, told heartbreaking stories of what women and girls are enduring.

In the final panel, called “PerSisters,” Zainab Salbi of PBS spoke with women actively trying to change the status quo. One of these women, Democratic candidate for Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District and retired Marines combat aviator Amy McGrath, talked about her motivation in running for office.

“We need more women in power,” McGrath said. “We need to be at the table, and we need to be in the room when decisions are made about women.”

The next Women in the World Summit takes place in New York City, April 12-14, 2018.

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