Women In The World Founder Tina Brown On Her Global Perspective On Feminism

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She is a powerhouse media mogul who we have come to respect greatly for her annual Women In The World summit which gathers world changers, thought-leaders, activists, celebrities, politicians, peacemakers, entrepreneurs, trailblazers and dynamic cultural forces from around the globe with one mission: to elevate the status and representation of women everywhere by raising awareness about and discussing the year’s most pressing topics.

The event is held in New York City each year since its inauguration in 2010, and has since expanded globally to London and New Delhi also. Boasting an impressive roster of guests such as Hillary Clinton, Nicole Kidman, Leymah Gbowee, Diane von Furstenberg, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Malala Yousafzai, and many more.

It is an event that can easily rival any TED event (in our humble opinion), not just because it is focused on women who are doing great things in the world (men are also present at the event as attendees and guest speakers) but because of how Tina has taken such a simple idea of elevating women’s stories and given it the biggest platform possible.

By background, Tina is a media mogul. Born in the UK and now residing in the US, she began her career working at Vanity Fair and Tatler magazine before going on to create and become the editor of The Daily Beast. In 2013 she left her position at TDB and launched Tina Brown Media, at the same time taking the WITW summit to new heights every year since its inception.

While her media work has been an important conduit for women’s voices around the world, it’s not often we get to hear exclusively from her as an interview subject (she’s usually doing the asking!). So when we came across an interview of her in Verve Magazine where she shared her unique and global perspective on feminism today, we knew it was something we wanted to share with our readers.

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First up, her definition of feminism, which goes beyond just the dictionary “social, political and economic equality of the sexes” to identify a woman having a choice in how she lives her life.

“The right to education, the right to marry the person she wants to, the right to work or the right to stay home full-time with her children, with either decision equally respected, and the right to legally redress violence,” she said, adding that extremism in certain countries is enabling human rights to regress, rather than progress.

Tina says there is such a juxtaposed position of women around the world today, where on one hand we celebrate the gains, but in the next breathe weep for the way women are being trampled on.

“In the 21st century we’ve seen tremendous gains for women — surging into arenas they never were in before, in corporate life, in the military, in political leadership. But we’ve also seen some of the worst regression and most intractable mindsets that nothing seems to alter. I’m haunted by the picture a few weeks ago of the 19-year-old girl being stoned to death in Afghanistan for eloping with a man she loved,” she said.

The ongoing fight between traditionalism and modernity is evidence in countries such as India, which has become the focus of women’s rights by international media over the past few years, highlighted most notably by the horrific gang rape of a young woman in Delhi in 2012.

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“There are areas where India is ahead of the West. You have a number of brilliant women at the top of banks and financial organizations which is definitely not true in the US where Wall Street is still a testosterone club,” said Tina, which makes the country a tough one to compartmentalize in terms of women’s rights. It is so different culturally and historically from the Western world, than the notion of India having an equal rights clause in its constitution when the US has yet to ratify the ERA could seem impressive, but it is probably more confusing than anything else.

However, as we discovered in our interview with ‘India’s Daughter’ director Leslee Udwin, it’s not just a matter of a constitutional right being enough for women in India, it is the deeply ingrained patriarchal mindset passed down from generation to generation which enables 6 uneducated, poor, gang rapists not to feel any remorse for their actions, and their highly educated lawyers to think in exactly the same manner. Thankfully, there are men who recognize the true value of humanity and are setting a better precedent for men in India.

“We brought Aamir Khan to our stage in New York at Women in the World in April 2015 because he has been such a great champion of women’s rights on his television show. And, in Delhi, you will have seen enlightened and courageous men bringing their perspectives to our panels, but I do believe there is still rampant misogyny out there that is just below the surface and can be expressed in acts of tremendous violence, social media attacks and ultimately exclusion for women in multiple arenas that’s hard to crack,” said Tina.

It is no secret, then, with the diverse group of women and men she has assembled on her stages around the world that she counts a very eclectic handful of names as her personal role models.

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“I’m inspired by Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe, the Ugandan nun who rescues girls from the Lord’s Resistance Army…In a different way, I’m inspired by Meryl Streep for her perfectionism, seriousness of purpose and adherence to quality over her long career. I’m enormously impressed by Sunitha Krishnan, the powerhouse who founded Prajwala that rescues girls who’ve been trafficked. Her courage and integrity are inspiring,” she recalls.

If you are looking for a way to learn about some badass female role models yourself, and be inspired by the work they are doing, do yourself a favor and watch the Women In The World summit each year, or catch up on previous interviews on their Youtube Channel. Spending time watching these videos is like taking a free gender studies, human rights, history and political course all in one.

One of the reasons GTHQ was started was to elevate the stories of women doing extraordinary things in the name of feminism, gender equality and women’s rights, who don’t normally get attention because of all the other “noise” that is pushed upon young women today in the media. This is why Tina Brown and WITW is so special to us. It is a reminder of how powerful role media can play in terms of positive change if we choose to listen to the voices that have something important to say.

She may count some incredible activists as her own role models, but we think Tina Brown is a girlboss to admire.

In a recent interview with the UK’s Channel 4, she spoke about her upcoming documentary on women, her perspective on Hillary Clinton’s current Presidential campaign, and the dangerous and misogynistic views of Donald Trump:

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  1. Pingback: Activist Hannah Song Left Corporate Job To Launch Non-Profit Helping North Korean Refugees - GirlTalkHQ

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