Tina Brown has been organizing the Women in the World Summit for nine years, but this year’s event, set against the backdrop of #MeToo, antigun violence activism and the debate over equal pay, makes it “a huge year,” Brown said. “The biggest thing is that Hillary Rodham Clinton will be moderating a panel. Hillary usually doesn’t moderate, but she loved the idea.
“There’s been so much wonderful passion,” Brown said. “Inevitably, you’ll see an explosion of that power and emotion and dedication. We started Women in the World in 2010, and have been banging the drum ever since. Many of the people we featured early on were from overseas. It’s really burst and come around to the U.S.”
Donald Trump’s campaign trail “grab them by the p—y” comment to Billy Bush; White House endorsement of Roy Moore for senator of Alabama, despite the fact that Moore was accused of making sexual advances toward teenagers; praise of former aide and alleged wife beater Rob Porter, and nocturnal sexist tweets provoked outrage and were catalysts for action and engagement.
“There’s a really amazing thing,” Brown said. “We saw it begin with the Women’s March and it’s just grown. We’re going to see surges of activism in other areas. Women are powering a lot of the antigun violence activism. We have these women who don’t just talk and vent, they go out and do. Our summit this year is about persistence, resistance and insistence. You have to be someone who persists. The antigun activists are going to find out how hard it is.”
The event runs April 12 to 14 at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center. Asked about the irony of holding the summit in a theater named for the industrialist, who with his brother, Charles, leads a conservative network of wealthy Republican donors, Brown said, “We just say it’s being held at Lincoln Center.”
Women in the World has a long list of speakers, including marquee names such as MSNBC host Joy-Ann Reid, Academy Award-winning actress Viola Davis and Clinton, who’ll moderate a panel of journalists working in countries ruled by strongmen. The countries include Russia, Turkey, the Philippines, and China, where Carrie Grace, a former BBC China editor, led a fight for pay equality and spoke in front of Parliament this year.
Maye Musk, a model, dietitian, face of Cover Girl and mother of Elon, will participate in a talk on ageism with Sheila Nevins, executive producer, former president of HBO documentary films and author of “You Don’t Look Your Age and Other Fairy Tales.” “Maye is a 70-year-old Cover Girl and fabulous looking,” Brown said. “I thought it would be great to have Sheila and Maye, who don’t see the red light anywhere.
“We’ll talk about reaching across the aisle with Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), and how to combat hate,” Brown said. “Another topic is changing the culture, but how do you do that at warp speed when you’ve been given the ultimate problem child — Uber. I’ll ask Dara Khosrowshahi, ceo of Uber Technologies, what he’s doing to clean it up.”
The summit each year recognizes Mothers of Invention, a group of women chosen by Toyota to receive funding for innovation that moves society forward. One of this year’s winners, Emily Kennedy, ceo and founder of Marinus Analytics, developed technology to fight human trafficking through facial recognition software and a cloud-based database.
“We’re obviously going to be covering some of the biggest issues of the year, but I think what has made Women in the World special, and what we’ll be doing again this year, is highlighting some of the unsung heroes who are making a difference, too.”