Salon recap

Women in the World takes over Chicago

Inspiring women gathered in the Windy City to discuss how we can bring back our girls, help the homeless and fight terrorism from the home-front

Women in Chicago convened on Wednesday at the Museum of Broadcast Communications for a riveting Women in the World Salon. Amid plates of quiche and cups of parfait, the audience listened to the remarks of several global change-makers who took the stage.


One panel focused on the fate of the Chibok schoolgirls who were kidnapped by Boko Haram in April 2014. One year after #BringBackOurGirls–was the movement a hashtag, or something more? And what will Nigeria’s new government need to succeed in finding the abducted children? Meet Dr. Obiageli Ezekwesili, co-founder of Bring Back Our Girls, who was interviewed by Bianna Golodryga, News and Finance Anchor at Yahoo.

Ezekwesili said it will take more than a new, charismatic leader to end terrorism in Nigeria. In addition to an intensely rebuilt government, the world needs to mobilize, she said. “Terrorists have perfected synergy, the act of working together,” she said, stressing that women in the world must alert their leaders to this growing monster and push for global action. “The war against women is like the Third World War.”


The “Showers for Bruised Lives” panel featured two inspiring women who are crusading to end a problem that’s literally on our streets: homelessness. Doniece Sandoval, Founder of Lava Mae and a Toyota Mother of Invention, was moved by a homeless woman who kept telling herself, “I will never be clean.”

Sandoval’s new mission in life was to bring dignity to the homeless in San Francisco. “The number one cause of homelessness in San Francisco is domestic violence,” Sandoval said. “The number two reason is eviction.” Her organization, Lava Mae, uses old city buses to bring mobile showers to those experiencing homelessness. She was joined on stage by Sol Flores, Executive Director of La Casa Norte, who underscored the need for people to stop attaching an “otherness” to those who are homeless. “Our humanity will be judged by how we treat those less fortunate than ourselves,” she added. The panel was moderated by Kate Sullivan, anchor at CBS2 News.


Radicalization is beckoning more young people across cultures, so what can mothers do to fight the war against extremism? In the “Counter Terrorist Mothers” panel, Dr. Edit Schlaffer, founder and chairwoman of SAVE (Sisters Against Violent Extremism) and Women without Borders urged parents to actually listen to their children. “We have to create our own safe spaces, and we have to start at the home front,” Schlaffer said.

Schlaffer explained that children want to feel like they belong, which is one reason why so many young girls are being seduced online and tricked into becoming jihadi brides. “We teach mothers listening skills,” Schlaffer said. “We have to listen with so much empathy & interest as extremists do online,” she added, and emphasized the importance of terminating feelings of isolation.


Women in the World London will take place October 8-9, 2015, at Cadogan Hall, in London.

Women in the World India will take place November 20, 2015, at the Taj Mansingh, in New Delhi.

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