When it was all said and done, the 10th annual Women in the World Summit — a seismic three-day event that shook the rafters of New York’s Lincoln Center with rollicking panels and impassioned performances — came down to one undeniable answer to the vital question: Can women save the world?
One by one, each woman to storm the stage provided the response: Yes we can!
Beginning with Oprah Winfrey’s clarion call for women to “channel our own inner Jacindas” and concluding with the surprise appearance of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the show of fierce female power was intoxicating both on stage and off, where Brie Larson gave Oprah an impromptu backstage fashion tip and women took over every men’s restroom in the theater between sessions.
Here you can see every single panel and performance of the 10th anniversary #WITW summit — which founder Tina Brown spontaneously dubbed “Burning Woman.” But right now, check out these stand-out moments.
“It’s time for women in the world to set the agenda. It’s time for women to redefine the message.”
In an electrifying keynote address, Oprah Winfrey set the room aflame with her call for women to lead us into the future — and save the world in the process.
— Women in the World (@WomenintheWorld) April 14, 2019
“Don’t do it for yourself, do it for the women coming after you.”
Sharing the advice she gives fellow Hollywood stars who feel “icky” about asking for equal pay, Brie Larson said it’s not about whether you feel you have enough — it’s about the precedent you set for the actresses coming next.
“Winning does not mean beating Trump. It means winning America. That’s our mission.”
The indomitable Stacey Abrams was her characteristically unfiltered self as she opened up about dealing with trolls, stigma around debt, and why she founded Fair Fight after losing an election to a man who used every dirty trick in the book: “I did it so I could sue him.”
“I was reading the newspapers in the airport, and I just began to bawl.”
In a disarmingly unguarded interview, legendary Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour revealed her rarely seen sentimental side, telling the story of her emotional reaction to Karl Lagerfeld’s recent death — and the kindness she received from a total stranger. And she had the audience hanging on her every word as she recalled the time she and Tina Brown had lunch with Princess Diana just six weeks before her death.
“Given the chance, many women will govern and lead differently.”
Hillary Clinton issued one of her most outspoken interviews since the 2016 election in a pull-no-punches conversation with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria. She lambasted “the current administration’s affinity towards dictators” and its despicable policy of “putting babies in cages,” and reacted for the first time to rising Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s attack on her presidential campaign.
“He’s living in Disneyland.“
Educating attendees on the modern slavery that is America’s sex trafficking epidemic, Cindy McCain had a thoughtful but forceful response to President Trump’s idea that a border wall is the solution, saying of traffickers: “They’re within the United States, and they’re going from state to state to state to state.”
“Allow your brain to have ideas, and think about how you can make them real.”
Priyanka Chopra Jonas was as generous with her time as she was with her insights, discussing #MeToo, the merit of beauty pageants, bringing dating app Bumble to India, and maintaining a marriage when both spouses have such busy schedules.
“The world is looking at the United States and wondering where we have gone.”
Former U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice sounded the alarm about how Trump’s ‘tweets on the fly’ and disinterest in global issues are making the world a riskier place. She talked with former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Alyssa Mastromonaco whose blessed outrage over the White House’s free-wheeling security clearance policy had the audience in hysterics: “All for smoking a little weed, Barack Obama put me on Security Clearance Probation for a year. Jared Kushner is on WhatsApp with Mohammed bin Salman!”
“Tonight, I want to tell you about my sister.”
Saudi activist Loujain Al-Hathloul has been imprisoned for nearly a year for daring to protest her country’s ban on women driving. In a heart-rending address, her sister Lina Al-Hathloul called on the audience — and the world — to demand Loujain’s release by the Saudi government.
“She angry! She elbow! She kick! SheFighters!”
The most bad-ass panel of them all belonged to Lina Khalifeh, the founder of the Middle East’s first and only self-defense school for women. With ferocious energy, Khalifeh had the well-heeled audience screaming battle cries and throwing jabs in a venue more accustomed to the genteel art of ballet.
“If I hear a non African-American comedian use the n-word, it better be the best joke ever. In fact, Jesus Christ better be telling that joke.”
In a rip-roaring moment that only Wanda Sykes could ever have the chutzpah to pull off, the comedian earned the biggest laugh of the summit when she explained how comedians should be free to say anything they want — as long as they happen to be our Lord and savior.
“Tradition has it that the women supply the emotional support all the time, and I think if we’re wise we can hopefully develop in our society more sensitive and compassionate men.”
During a poignant panel about Alzheimer’s, actor Bryan Cranston let the audience in on his struggle to care for his mother after she developed the debilitating disease, and pointed to how we can raise better male caregivers.
“Trust in God. And if you are raped, don’t struggle.”
You could hear a pin drop as fearless foreign correspondent Nima Elbagir recalled the instructions she was given by sex traffickers — captured live on camera — just before she allowed herself to be trafficked in Nigeria for the sake of a critically important story. And Maria Ressa described how her pioneering news outlet Rappler had blazed ahead, despite the Philippine president’s attempts to shut it down — and her own multiple arrests by riot cops in “full SWAT gear.”
These moments barely scratch the surface of everything that went down at the summit, where almost a hundred more playbook-shredding women brought the truths behind their private and public struggles to the Women in the World stage.
Read more from the treasure trove of blog posts, video and photos from the event, that should keep you satiated at least until July, when Women in the World’s live journalism returns with 51Fest, a three-day festival at New York’s IFC Center that will put women where they belong: at the center of the story. Stay tuned for tickets and line-up announcements here.