Women in the World Summit: Where to Begin…

I’m sitting in Raleigh right now. My son is at preschool. The dog and cat have been fed. I’m spending a little quality time in front of the computer. Everything is just as it should be.

Except it’s not.

Not for me anyway. I spent the last few days in a NYC whirlwind of celebrities, political leaders, and activists that would make your head spin. Mine is, in fact, still spinning.

This is the first of many, many posts that will be inspired by my attendance at this conference. Some, I’ll write here. Some, I’ll be writing on my new site, Charitable Influence, when it launches later this month. But before I dig into the experiences and the emotions that came from the conference, I thought I’d give you an overview.

First of all, I’m grateful for so many of you that followed along with my tweets (using the hashtag #wiw12). You made me feel like I was attending on your behalf and I’m glad I could bring some of you along for the ride. But I got a lot of questions, like, Where are you? What is this summit? How did you get to go? Can anybody go?

So I thought I’d start today’s post at the beginning.

The Women in the World Summit was a two and half day gathering of women from all over the world. If I had to give it a purpose, it was to collectively put women’s voices together on issues ranging from forced marriage to reproductive rights. At times, it felt quite liberal and feminist in nature. At other times, it felt quite liberating and certainly made me proud and humbled to be in the company of such amazing women.

This was the third annual summit hosted by Newsweek and The Daily Beast, with major sponsors ranging from HP to Coca-Cola to Toyota.

This was actually Toyota’s first year sponsoring the summit and their enthusiasm for being there was palpable. As a member of TWIN (Toyota Women’s Influence Network), I was one of four bloggers given the opportunity to attend. I can truly say it was an opportunity of a lifetime.

The four TWINs at Lincoln Center: @suki, @DontSpkWhinese, @allthingsfadra (me), @Armywives101

Not only did Toyota sponsor my attendance but they also provide me a Delegate status which gave me access to several VIP events.

Want to know the parts that made me giddy? I was surrounded by celebrities, and I don’t mean from behind a red rope. Chelsea Clinton walked past me to get a Diet Coke for her friend. Paulina Porizkova nearly ran me over coming out of the ladies room. America Ferrara struck up a conversation with me at lunch (and then I asked why she looked so familiar to me. Not my shining celebrity moment.) I hugged Debra Winger. Chatted with Ingrid Michaelson. Practically stalked Christy Turlington. Shook hands with Charlie Rose and Holland Taylor. Walked right past Oprah (she who needs no last name).

The celebrities were phenomenal and I was definitely starstruck. The list went on: Angelina Jolie, Meryl Streep, Hillary Clinton, Madeline Albright, Nancy Pelosi, Jessica Alba, Barbara Walters, Diane von Furstenberg. I was practually tripping over famous people.

But I’m going to be honest. While it was thrilling, the celebrity wore off. I listened to people that moved me and touched me. Women I had never heard of brought me to tears.

The pinnacle of the entire event for me was being there and watching Jaycee Dugard speak as she made her first public appearance since she was recovered from her captors of eighteen years.


People like Jaycee were the heroes of the conference. People like Leymah Gbowee, 2011 Nobel Peace Prize Winner. People like Suma, a Nepalese girl who spent six years as an indentured servant, sold by her own parents.

Suma wrote a song about her experience and her performance kicked off the summit.

Her lyrics were as follows:

Selfish were my mother and father.
They gave birth to a daughter.
They gave birth to a daughter.
Did you want to see me suffer, mother?
Did you want to see me suffer, father?
Then why did you give birth to a daughter?
My brothers go to school.
I am unfortunate, I slave in a landlord’s house.
Abused everyday by the landlord’s wife.
Some life, to get beaten every day.
Some life, to get beaten every day.
Selfish were my mother and father.
They gave birth to a daughter.
They gave birth to a daughter.

Now I know it’s going to seem odd to be writing over the next few weeks about women’s issues and human rights and then do a post about mouthwash (yes, I actually have one coming up this week). But I feel compelled to really write about the issues that speak to my heart. And I’m finding my heart is a lot bigger than I thought it was.

This summit was an amazing way to kickoff my endeavor with my partner Heidi, Charitable Influence. And coming home and cracking open a fortune cookie only solidified that for me.

Disclosure: I was selected for participation in the TWIN community through a program with Clever Girls Collective. I did not receive any compensation for writing this post, or payment in exchange for participating. The opinions expressed herein are mine, and do not reflect the views of the Toyota.

  • Greta @notenoughpatience.com

    Wow, what an incredible opportunity! Since talking to you at Blissdom, I’ve been so excited about Charitable Influence. And since I know you, does that mean that I’m only two degrees from Angelina, Oprah, and Meryl? 😀

    • FadraN

      You are officially a FoF (friend of Fadra) so that makes you connected to lots of celebrities now. I hope you’ve signed up for the Charitable Influence email list so we can let you know when we’re live!

  • http://www.foodiecitymom.com/ Kimberly/Foodie City Mom

    I can’t wait to read more…

    • FadraN

      I’m thinking of devoting the next few Mondays so please stop back…

  • http://twitter.com/MariaMorley All Things Luxurious

    I am so excited to continue to read your blog and support you on this amazing journey that it sounds like you are beginning.  Just know that you are loved by your readers.

    • FadraN

      What an amazing feeling your comment gives me. Thank you so much for your support.

  • http://superduperfantastic.com/ suki

    :) Cannot wait to read the rest of your posts! I may be “borrowing” that photo of us. 

    • FadraN

      I will email it to you! I’m so glad we all got to experience this together!

  • Krystel@Armywife101

    I too was going to say the same thing Suki said about the photo lol! Your post was truly great and quite honestly you have done a better job capturing the essence of this conference then I could do in several posts. I cannot wait to read the rest. So glad to have met and connected with you awesome ladies!

    • FadraN

      I’ll be glad to send you a copy! I had a great time with you and can’t wait to see what we all walked away with!

  • Temysmom

    Completely jealous but so glad you had a fabulous time. I can’t even imagine how life-changing this must have been. What an amazing opportunity and I can’t wait to see your other posts.

    • FadraN

      I was excited but didn’t expect it to be life-changing. And it was and is. So much I want to write about now…

  • http://chroniclesofpookahsmom.com Rose’s Daughter

    This sounds like such an amazing opportunity!! I followed your tweets! Can’t wait to read more!

    • FadraN

      It was just amazing. That’s about the only word to describe it. Amazing!

  • http://www.sewcarolinaknits.blogspot.com/ Carolina

    I can’t wait to read your posts, I enjoyed following your tweets.  I wish I could have been there! We women can do so much to help our sisters who are struggling in other countries.  I 

    • FadraN

      That’s exactly what I intend to focus on. Even my sister said, “Yeah, but what can WE do…” I intend to find out.

  • Heather Rott

    I told you this on Twitter, but what a neat event. I just find that all so interesting. 

  • Heather Rott

    P.s. i’m IamMrsRotty on Twitter, I just realized my name isn’t the same. oops

    • FadraN

      I figured out who you were :)

      It was so eye-opening. I just hope others feel that way as I share.

  • Leigh Ann

    What an amazing experience that must have been! I look forward to the rest of your posts about it!

  • http://twitter.com/AndreaUpdyke Andrea(LilKidThings)

    Such an amazing experience! I know it will stay with you forever. So awesome.

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