In the same way that slavery was a moral challenge for the 19th c. & totalitarianism was a challenge for the 20th c., the challenge that women & girls face around the world is the moral challenge of our time.

~ Sheryl WuDunn & Nicholas Kristof

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Lean On: When "Leaning in" Isn't Enough by Tina Brown @Women in the World

    I am fortunate to have been given a ticket to participate in the 4th Annual Women of the World Summit ( which was kicked off brilliantly by Tina Brown Editor in Chief of Newsweek with the inspiring words that what we are all here doing is not just "leaning in" (which we need to do) but also "leaning on" cultural practices which continue to try to put women in "their place" and restrict their independence and human development.  From here, we have begun to hear from women around the world who are struggling not only to raise the ceiling for women's advancement but also to lift the floor of basic human rights which have fallen dangerously low around the world.  
    The externals differ, but all the stories speak to the same basic reality of unspeakable injustices resulting from deeply entrenched ideas about male power which seek to control girls/women's independence:  whether it be keeping girls out of school so they are only useful for marriage, genital mutilation to mark the woman as belonging to a man, early marriage, and generally speaking a model of marriage which puts women in a submissive role.  Being here gives me the sense that God does seem to call particular people with particular moral clarity and sass to "lean on" these powerful mindsets and challenge their underlying assumptions of male presumption to power in all its forms, whether it is young girls like Malala in Pakistan going around to speak to the village leaders about why they should let their girls be educated or an irish woman activist who spent her life as an activist working on behalf of invisible poor domestic workers in ireland who found their wages continually cut and their rights eroded...  or any of us asking questions, stirring up the holy pot when we see any forms of diminishment of women's agency within a religious setting we are in.  
Listen to Tina and ask yourself what is yours to "lean on" for the sake of creating a more gender balanced world...  Emily Nielsen Jones

Join us on the livestream of the Women in the World Summit and meet all the extraordinary women, many celebrated, but just as many you will never have heard of until now, leaning ON.

We’ve heard a lot in recent polemic about how to win the fight for the corner office. But pushing up against a glass ceiling is practically a luxury when you consider the millions of women who can feel the floor dropping beneath their feet.

At the Women in the World Summit, currently in progress at Lincoln Center, extraordinarily courageous women bring their stories from 16 countries about what it means to struggle against cultural repression, economic exclusion, and systemic violence.

They remind us what it feels like to be a woman in Pakistan, where girls are gunned down for the simple act of boarding a school bus.

To be a woman in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where it's estimated over 1,000 women are raped every day.

To be a woman in Brazil, where a report in 2010 found that 10 Brazilian women lose their lives to domestic violence every day.

To be a woman in Somalia, where 95 percent of girls face genital mutilation.

To be a woman in Indonesia, where every hour one woman dies in childbirth.

To be a woman in Afghanistan, where nearly 90 percent are condemned to illiteracy.

And here in the United States, let’s remember that women are paid only 77 cents for every dollar a man makes. An enormous number of mothers in the U.S. are working double time, graveyard shifts, and more than one job just to put food on the table for their kids. Just last week, we saw the most restrictive anti-abortion bill in the country signed into law in North Dakota.  It’s incredible, isn’t it, that tens of thousands of rape kits sit untested in police storage facilities across the country because the authorities—our authorities—just don’t get around to it.

In recent weeks, in public debate, we’ve been exhorted to “lean in.” There can hardly be a woman in America who hasn't followed that important conversation. And thank you, Sheryl Sandberg, for starting it.

But “leaning in” can only be a partial strategy. Leaning in works only in places where women are close enough to reach for their rightful goals.

But there are vast numbers of places where women are at the wrong end of a chasm. Where you lean in and you're scorned, or worse, flogged, stoned, vilified, or denied entry.

Our mission at the fourth Women in the World Summit is not just to lean in, but to lean ON.

Lean on corporations to change the pitiful representation of women in boardrooms.

Lean on the prosecutors of India to end rampant sexual violence.

Lean on the courts in Latin America to put an end to impunity for violence against women.

Lean on the pimps who sell girls for sex and the johns who buy them.

Lean on clerics from all religions who condone or turn a blind eye to the abuse of women and deny their fundamental rights.

Lean on brothers who would murder their sisters in so-called honor killings!

Lean on entire governments to safeguard the rights and well-being, and to free up the economic potential, of a full half of all their citizens!

Tina Brown, Editor in Chief, Newsweek & The Daily Beast at the Women in the World Conference 2013.( Roxxe Ireland/Marc Bryan-Brown )

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Em for your wonderful post. What an inspiring speech. Keep us posted on the rest of the conference.