@HafsatKIND uses her #powertoempower every day as the President and CEO of the @WIAIntiative and founder of the @kind_nigeria. Born into a prominent political family, Hafsat embraced her own call to leadership in a time of crisis. After nearly 30 years of military rule in Nigeria, Hafsat’s father won in the 1993 elections. The election was later annulled and he was imprisoned. Hafsat’s mother boldly campaign for her husband’s release while Hafsat – a student at the time – rallied support in the U.S. Three years later, Hafsat’s mother was assassinated for her efforts. Her life’s work is Hafsat’s tribute to her mother. She founded the Kudirat Initiative for Democracy (KIND) with the vision of an Africa where women are full participants in the continent’s development. Based in Lagos, KIND advances women’s leadership by removing barriers to women’s political participation and working to eliminate violence against women. Hafsat continues to use #powertoempower – and people are noticing: the U.S. National Civil Rights Museum ( @NCRMuseum) announced that @HafsatKIND will be a recipient of the Freedom Award, alongside @GloriaSteinem and @JohnLegend, for her contributions to human and civil rights! We’re so honored to support Hafsat as she uses her #powertoempower people around the world. . . . . #women #womenleaders #womenleading #womenincharge #genderequality #womensvoices #africanleaders #vitalvoices #powertoempower
The fierce @DrJoyceBanda is widely known because of her time as Malawi’s first woman president, and just the second woman to lead an African country. But we know her because of her commitment to using her #powertoempower women and girls in Malawi, across Africa and around the world. This resilient politician began as a grassroots activist, advocating for rural women and girls, and has since spent her career fiercely fighting to unleash the potential of girls throughout Africa. Before she was President, she served as a member of Parliament, Minister of Gender and Child Welfare, Foreign Minister and eventually Vice President. While in Cabinet positions, she used her #powertoempower and pass legislation to end domestic violence and child abuse. And she remains an advocate for girls around the world, shining a light on how crucial it is to support young women, using her #powertoempower and fighting so that girls can one day change the world. . . . . #women #womenleaders #womenincharge #girlseducation #womensempowerment #girlsempowerment #girlpower #africanleadership #africanleaders
@MuSochua is at the forefront of Cambodia’s efforts for democratic reform, free elections and human rights. After a childhood in exile, she returned to Cambodia to get on the ground, listen to the people in her communities to better serve their needs, and use her #powertoempower. She’s fought hard to bring about change in the country, and worked her way up through the government as a member of Parliament, the first Minister of Women and Veteran’s Affairs and eventually the Vice President of the Cambodian National Rescue party. She’s used her #powertoempower women in Cambodia by encouraging them to run for political office. In 2002, she helped to usher in a new generation of women leaders in Cambodia by mobilizing 12,000 women candidates to run in the commune elections. Over 900 were elected. Today, she continues to fight for democracy, human rights and gender equality in Cambodia and around the world. We’re honored to work with women around the world like Mu Sochua and are inspired by her commitment to use her #powertoempower! . . . . #women #womenleaders #democracy #womensrights #leadership #humanrights #genderequality #womeninpolitics #womenindemocracy #globalleadershipawards #vitalvoices #leadershipquotes #leadershiplessons
Laura Liswood is redefining the world’s understanding of women leaders. As the Secretary General for the Council of Women World Leaders, the only organization dedicated to women heads of state - comprised of women presidents, prime ministers and heads of government - she provides a forum for this powerful network to share their unparalleled experience and shape the future around important international issues. An expert in diversity and leadership, she’s questioned myths around leadership so that we can pave the way for a more powerful, more inclusive model of leadership in the future. Plus, Laura uses her #powertoempower our very own #VVEngage Fellows, mentoring these Fellows – women who are influencing and making policy around the world – and connecting them with former heads of state! . . . . #womenleaders #women #womensempowerment #womeninpolitics #councilofwomenworldleaders #cwwl #leaders #leadership #leadershipmodel #vitalvoices
As the first woman to lead a Congressional party and first woman Speaker of the House, @SpeakerPelosi has used her #powertoempower and chart a new course for women’s leadership. Always an advocate for women, she commemorated the 100-year anniversary of the House’s passage of the #19thAmendment giving women the right to vote: "Since the birth of our democracy, women have not waited for change, but have worked for change." And as we celebrate the 99th anniversary of the #19thamendment officially becoming law, we know that @SpeakerPelosi's leadership and the way she uses her #powertoempower will inspire women for the next 99 years and beyond! 💫 . . . . #women #womenempowerment #womensupportingwomen #womenpower #womenhelpingwomen #womeninspiringwomen #politics #womeninpower #womeninpolitics #nancypelosi #19thamendment #vitalvoices
@MichelleObama has used her #powertoempower to speak up and become an internationally renowned role model for women, men and young people everywhere. The lawyer, author, public servant, university administrator, mother and former First Lady used her #powertoempower communities to strive for healthy families, higher education and girls’ education worldwide while in the public arena. And outside formal office, she continues to use her #powertoempower – launching initiatives like @WhenWeAllVote to drive nonpartisan voter registration and the @ObamaFoundation’s @Girlsopportunityalliance to empower girls around the world through education. She’s motivated women and men everywhere to prioritize themselves, surround themselves with people who lift them up, not compromise on what they know is right, and use their own #powertoempower. (photo by @photonate | @nbcnews) . . . . #women #womenempowerment #womensupportingwomen #success #successquotes #michelleobama #obama #womenpower #empoweringwomen #empoweringquotes #vitalvoices
Beatriz Merino is used to being the “first”: the first member of her family to go to college, the first Peruvian woman to have a law degree from @Harvard, the first woman to Peru’s national ombudsman, and the first woman Prime Minister of Peru AND in all of Latin America. Throughout her political career in Peru, she broke barriers for women’s leadership. With positivity and care, she demonstrated the prosperity and success that can come from women leading differently. She paved the way for gender equality: today, Peru’s cabinet is comprised of 50% women and 50% men. Beatriz Merino continues to use her #powertoempower. She’s a member of the Council of Women World Leaders —the only organization in the world dedicated to women heads of state. She continues to further her mission to mobilize women leaders globally!
Not yet old enough to vote, 16 yr old @gretathunberg is proving that civic engagement at any age can make a global difference. 🌎 Climate activist Greta Thunberg has called attention to the climate crisis like never before - putting the spotlight on world leaders and urging them to act. She is using her #powertoempower real change, NOW. She is leveraging her rights for peaceful protest to coordinate global protests and keep politicians everywhere accountable. We can’t wait to see how this young activist continues to use her #powertoempower in the future she’s helping secure for us all!
@Kah.Walla does it all. As an entrepreneur, political leader, human rights activist, and first woman to ever run for President of Cameroon, Kah is no stranger to changemaking. She uses her #powertoempower by speaking up about the unique role women play in public leadership, both in Africa and worldwide. Kah does not compromise in her fight to shape a positive future for Africa – one built on good governance, equity and democracy. And she continues using her #powertempower other Cameroonian citizens with Cameroon Ô’Bosso, a citizenship movement to help the grassroots organize to defend its interests and have a voice in defining and implementing policies at the national level. We’re in awe of Kah and always love to see how she uses her #powertoempower!
As one of Latin America’s most prominent political activists, @lauritalonso uses her #powertoempower by fighting for open, accountable government in Argentina. From democracy activist to member of Congress to, now, the head of the Argentine government’s anti-corruption office, @lauritalonso is on the frontline of change - working hard to use her #powertoempower the country's transparency and accountability. As she’s put it: “We are not chasing a person. We are not chasing a company. Our main work and contributions are institutional reforms.” @lauritalonso is using her #powertoempower communities with reliable information and a transparent government!
The third woman to be Prime Minister of #NewZealand, @JacindaArdern is showing the world how women lead differently. In 1893, New Zealand became the first country to grant women the right to vote. In 2018, @JacindaArdern led the nation’s celebration of its 125th anniversary of women’s suffrage. And today, she's using her #powertoempower to lead with compassion. From reorienting the way we respond to crisis to being frank and open about parenting and expectations, she's demonstrating the way that women who lead differently can make a difference in politics.
Vital Voices took our #VoicesAgainstViolence program to the Philippines, where we hosted a series of cross-industry trainings on preventing and responding to gender-based violence. Trainings with our partners at @avonworldwide and local survivor advocates focused on building leadership skills to address GBV; conducting trauma-informed interviews and secondary trauma training for practitioners throughout the justice system; and providing guidance on responding to financial abuse through economic empowerment for survivors and survivor advocates - all with the goal of ending GBV. #endgbv
The Leadership Incubator is a new opportunity for women in the U.S. ages 20-35 who have a business, social enterprise, organization or initiative aimed at having a positive social impact. Is that you? Check our story for a link to apply!
Europe-based women business owners: Apply now for an extraordinary training and mentorship opportunity coming to Paris November 11-15. The Global Ambassadors Program, a partnership between Vital Voices and Bank of America, mobilizes the talent, skills and expertise of executive women leaders to mentor and train the next generation of women in business and social enterprise. Applications are due July 31 — head to the link in our bio to learn more!
These 👏🏼 programs 👏🏾 work 👏🏿 75% of women who participated in Vital Voices' leadership development programs changed the way they lead - directly due to the program. Want to learn how to evolve your leadership? Apply to the Leadership Incubator TODAY! Check our story for a link to apply!
SWIPE ➡️ Did you know? #GlobalAmbassadors Program (GAP) mentees report new business growth and strong organizational development and leadership skills following participation in our premier mentoring program with our partner Bank of America. If you’re a woman business owner or social enterprise leader in Europe looking to grow, apply today and join us on our next GAP trip to Paris, France Nov 11-15. Hurry — application deadline is July 31. Check out our story for the link to apply!
It's always amazing when women leaders come together to use their #PowertoEmpower, and last week at #WomenDeliver was no different! Our fearless leader, @alyse_nelson, joined influential women for #WD2019, where she spoke on panels with BMO Capital, Johnson & Johnson, and Procter & Gamble, noting “you cannot make change by going a mile wide and an inch deep. You have to continually invest in women as leaders to make lasting change.”
Thrilled to announce that our very own President and CEO Alyse Nelson was named one of Apolitical's 100 Most Influential People in Gender Policy 2019! Selected from 9,000+ nominations, Alyse joins leaders like Michelle Obama, Melinda Gates, Christine Lagarde, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and many more on the list. See it today by checking out our Insta story!
Calling all women business owners & social enterprise leaders based in Europe! Applications are due JULY 31 for an extraordinary training and mentorship opportunity coming to Paris, France, November 11-15. The Global Ambassadors Program, a partnership between Vital Voices and Bank of America, mobilizes the talent, skills and expertise of executive women leaders to mentor and train the next generation of global influencers — women who are poised to have a transformational impact in their communities and beyond. If you are looking to sharpen your business acumen, financial management and communication skills to elevate your organization and expand your network, this program is tailor made for you. Learn more: https://www.global-ambassadors.org/story/paris-november-11-15-2019
Did you know? Only 24% of the world’s parliamentarians and 7% of heads of state are women. Through #VVEngage, we aim to shift culture around public leadership, make progress towards parity in government, and advance the #SDGs. Learn more and apply by clicking the link in our bio.
Despite progress, #genderequality in leadership has stalled. Across industries, women represent nearly 50% at the entry level, but only 20% of C-Suite Executives, and only 1 in 25 of those executives are women of color. That's why Vital Voices is teaming up with @tresemme to launch the Leadership Incubator: a signature program to invest in the next generation of leaders with training, network expansion, mentorship and community to make their bold vision for change a reality. The life-changing year-long opportunity is geared toward women in the United States, ages 20-35, who are committed to making a difference in their community or industry, creatively pursuing social impact, elevating the voices of and opportunities for others, and paying it forward. Click the link in our bio to apply today!
Vital Voices and @bumble are so proud of our new partnership, Moves Making Impact! When women make the first move, they can support women like Baljeet Sandhu. Baljeet is the Founding Director of the Migrant & Refugee Children's Legal Unit and a 2017 #GlobalLeadershipAwards Honoree. Baljeet founded the Migrant & Refugee Children's Legal Unit to protect and promote the rights of young people displaced by war, abuse, and violence. Learn more on how you can support Baljeet with VV and Bumble's Moves Making Impact partnership by clicking the link in our bio.
Vital Voices and @bumble have teamed up to make first moves awesome. With the new Moves Making Impact feature, VV women receive donations for their work each time a woman makes the first move on Bumble! Today we're shining the light 💡on @akankshahazari. Akanksha is the founder and CEO of m.Panni, and a 2011 #GlobalLeadershipAwards Honoree. With m.Panni, Akanksha uses mobile-based technology to empower people in underserved communities across rural India! With Vital Voices and Bumble's new partnership, Moves Making Impact, you can use your #powertoempower women leaders just like Akanksha. Learn more by clicking the link in our bio.
As @bumble rolls out our new partnership on their app, learn more about the amazing women leaders empowered by Moves Making Impact. 🐝 First up: Amanda Nguyen. @amandangocnguyen is the founder of @risenow.us and a 2019 #GlobalLeadershipAwards Honoree. After being sexually assaulted during her senior year of college, Amanda quickly realized that her rights as a survivor were unclear. She founded Rise to pen the rights of herself and 45 million survivors & counting, cementing herself as a champion of justice. Learn more about how you can swipe for a cause by clicking the link in our bio. #MovesMakingImpact
Happy Mother’s Day!!🌸 To all of the mothers who are movers, shakers and change-makers, we salute you.💪 Vital Voices is crafting a future worthy of the next generation, and we couldn’t do it without you!
#MothersDay is around the corner. Why not show your number one woman how much you appreciate her with a donation to women leaders in her honor? We'll even send Mom a VV tote as a thank-you! Get started by clicking the link in our bio!
So grateful to all of the presenters, speakers, women leaders and partners who made last night’s #GLA2019 possible. Powerful evenings that showcase women changing the world wouldn’t be possible without the support and commitment of our partners – last night, and every night. We’re so thankful for your leadership in empowering women, and look forward to charting the future alongside you!
Humbled and inspired to honor absolutely phenomenal women last night at #GLA2019.✨Our annual #GlobalLeadershipAwards celebrate fearless women leaders who solve problems in their communities to create a global movement. We are in awe of our Honorees, Diane von Furstenberg, Habiba Ali, Rouba Mhaissen, Saskia Nino de Rivera, and Amanda Nguyen for their constant commitment, leadership and action, and to our sheroes like Secretary Hillary Clinton, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Tina Brown, Bozoma Saint John, Donna Langley and so many more who shared the stage. As @alyse_nelson said, we know that women lead differently. That difference is what the world needs. Thank YOU for making a difference! 💕
So moving to see SO MANY Vital Voices women leaders in one room last week at the #DVFAwards. This group of women is changing the world – and we’re thrilled to see them come together to support one of their own fellow VV women leaders like @hadeel_anabtawi as she was recognized at the DVF Awards by actress and activist @aw! Thanks so much to VV Board Member @therealdvf for creating these awards and using your #powertoempower! #tbt #throwbackthursday
Our #WCW goes out to all of the powerful, intelligent, incredible women who took the stage at last week’s @womenintheworld Summit! What an impactful week watching smart, effective, ambitious women discuss the work they do and the CHANGE they create. From VV women leaders like @lina_khalifeh who brought the crowd to their feet, to journalists like @lynseyaddario, to influencers and experts like @badassboz, to @oprah ❗️and even more, these women prove that women can – and WILL – save the world. 🌎 Huge shout out to VV Board Member and @womenintheworld Founder Tina Brown for making this incredible event happen for 10 years and counting! Here’s to the next 10.✨
Local Action | Global Change ❗️Join Vital Voices for the 18th annual Global Leadership Awards as we honor daring and innovative women from around the world. 🌍 Tickets for the awards ceremony and our exclusive night-before reception are still available. See the link in our bio to get yours!
Tina Brown is an award-winning journalist who has made a name for not only herself, but for women everywhere. Tina’s media career launched to atmospheric success early, as the editor-in-chief of the British ‘Tatler’ magazine at age 25, followed by incredible roles as editor-in-chief of both @vanityfair and @newyorkermag. She founded @thedailybeast, is founder and CEO of Tina Brown Live Media, which produces the annual Women in the World Summit, and is the best-selling author of biography ‘The Diana Chronicles’ and memoir ‘The Vanity Fair Diaries.’ And with all of her success, she’s always created space for women, ensuring women are highlighted and championed in media. Her @womenintheworld, which is celebrating it's 10th Anniversary tomorrow, shines a light on women around the world, and the annual summit brings together leaders across the spectrum from household names to grassroots actors. We’re honored to have this global changemaker as a member of our Board of Directors. Thank you, Tina, for always using your #powertoempower so many women around the world!
CALLING ALL WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS: The #WEEmpower UN SDG Challenge is in full swing! This global challenge for business leaders and changemakers will send 5 finalists from each UN region to New York City for a week of trainings, network, the opportunity to pitch their businesses for a $40K grant and much MORE. Learn more and apply TODAY! www.weempowerchallenge.org
Faith Florez, a third-generation Mexican-American, grew up with stories about how her great-grandmother had died in the field due to heat while working on a farm. Faith realized not much had changed since her great-grandmother worked in the agriculture industry, and wanted to spark long overdue change to protect farmworkers and inform them of their rights. The now-college student created the Latina Legacy Foundation – an organization empowering high school aged women from Latino families to solve equity and social justice issues with technological approaches. And how did she put that resolve into action? The Calor App. An estimated 4 people die each year due to excessive heat from fieldwork– often because they’re unaware of their rights to water, shade and rest in high temperatures. Faith created the Calor App, a heat stress protection app that notifies farm workers of excessive heat and informs them of their rights and safety precautions. Not only did Faith create the App, but she’s constantly working on ways to put the app and relevant technology into realistic use. The young leader is using her #powertoempower and educate a long-ignored community. Thanks you, @faith.florez, for all that you do!
This queen doesn’t wear a crown, but she does carry a can of spray paint. Panmela Castro, Brazil’s Graffiti Queen, uses her internationally renowned talent as an urban street artist to change the dialogue around violence against women. A survivor herself, Panmela knew Brazil’s culture and conversation around gender-based violence needed to change. She began creating street art that stood out and spoke to something more. She wanted femininity to invade Brazil’s masculine street, and create a space for women in the public sphere. Panmela’s art is feminine without sexualizing the female body. She uses her art to demonstrate sisterhood, women’s advocacy, empowering women and more. Panmela knows that her art creates a conversation, but that change won’t come from the art alone. To put her work into action, she created Rede Nami, workshops that educate communities on domestic violence by discussing women’s rights, then together creating a mural to visualize their experiences, hopes and discussions, and AfroGrafiteiras, an effort educating Afro-Brazilian women about black feminism, gender and their own rights. Panmela uses her talent, her art and her #powertoempower Brazilian women – fighting the “macho movement” at every step with her passion and her paint.
Rihanna has pushed the boundaries of music, culture, fashion and inclusion. A global icon, @badgalriri uses her #powertoempower women and people of color, and to push for education and emergency response in poor countries around the world. Rihanna is known as a chart-topping, record-breaking singer, but she’s worked hard to lift other communities alongside her as she rises in fame and notoriety. The singer not only represents her home country, Barbados, as an ‘ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary', but promotes health, education and investment on the island. She’s been a staunch advocate for education, recognized by @harvard for her @claralionelfdn , which supports and funds groundbreaking education and emergency response programs around the world, and for working with the Global Partnership for Education. And she works with the Clara Lionel Foundation to shift ways we approach emergency response – building a proactive strategy to prepare for what communities that experience disasters will need rather than reactively fundraising when people suffer. The international icon doesn’t stop there. With her record-breaking @fentybeauty beauty and @savagexfenty fashion lines, she’s set the standard for inclusivity, creating makeup and lingerie for all skin tones and sizes. Thank you, RiRi, for using your talent, expertise, acumen and power to EMPOWER! #powertoempower
Kakenya Ntaiya fought hard to turn her dream into a reality. At age 15, Kakenya was one of many girls in her Kenyan village who was not only arranged to be married, but was also expected to undergo female genital mutilation. But Kakenya had a different dream. She wanted to continue her education – something that typically ended with the #fgm ceremony and marriage. So she and her father struck up a deal: she’d undergo the #fgm procedure, as long as she could return to school once she healed. And Kakenya didn’t stop there. She continued her education, then negotiated another deal: to become the first woman in her village to go to college in the U.S. After she convinced her village chiefs and elders to support her decision, the community came together to support Kakenya’s pursuit of education – selling eggs and mangoes to help the student pay her way across the world. Kakenya eventually earned her bachelor’s degree and a doctorate, but didn’t stop there. When she returned home, she saw people were supporting girls’ education, but that girls were still being cut and married early. So she set up a boarding school, requiring girls’ parents/guardians promise that they would not force girls to go through FGM or force them to be married, and teaching the girls to become advocates against these harmful practices. Today, Kakenya has expanded this center of excellence into Kakenya’s Dream, an organization empowering girls and fighting to end harmful practices. Kakenya is an internationally recognized advocate using her hard-won negotiation skills for girls’ education and to #endfgm, and using her #powertoempower. Thank you Kakenya, for using your vital voice!
Writer, advocate, TV-host, author, journalist, activist. Janet Mock uses all of her roles, talent, experience and #powertoempower people across the board: the trans community, LGBTQ people, women, people of color and marginalized people everywhere. Janet is a media maven, whose journalism experience helped her become a powerful writer. She made history with her New York Times bestselling memoir, Redefining Realness – the first biography written from the perspective of a young trans person. She went on to break even more ground: writing another memoir, founding #GirlsLikeUs (a social media project that empowers trans women,) being the first trans woman of color to author an episode of TV for FX’s Pose, becoming a tireless advocate passionate about speaking out, and much more. This #TransDayofVisibility, and every day, we are so thankful for women leaders like Janet who inspire the global community who lead differently. Thank you, Janet, for using your #powertoempower! (Image via SuperSoul Sunday.)
As an electrical engineering student minoring in computer science, Kimberly Bryant was often the only minority in her college classes. Upon entering the STEM workforce, she noticed that none of her colleagues looked much like her. That was something she wanted to change for future generations. Kimberly was constantly confronted with this problem – starkly when she wanted to enroll her daughter in coding classes and didn’t want her to be the only student of color. She knew that other women of color were not excluded from STEM industries due to lack of interest, but likely from lack of exposure or opportunity. Kimberly created the innovative Black Girls Code, an organization dedicated to changing the face of technology by introducing girls of color to tech and computer science, while boosting their entrepreneurial spirit. Kimberly knew firsthand the challenges that face women of color in STEM industries. Rather than allow these challenges to continue, she uses her #powertoempower girls and women of color to embrace technology and teach them the skills needed, all while providing the guidance and encouragement they need to be supported and succeed. Thank you, Kimberly, for using your #powertoempower the next generation of changemakers!
Danielle Forward is uniquely positioned at the intersection of design, art and civil rights, and as both a member of the tech industry and of Native American descent. Danielle Forward, today a product designer at Facebook, realized the entrenched obstacles that stand in the way for the more than five million Native American people in the U.S. today to enter the tech industry. She battled generations of inherited poverty to put herself through design school, eventually graduating college as valedictorian. She learned from Buddhist teachings to balance her work and school commitments, which taught her how to detach from distractions and, as a woman, to detach from patriarchal structures of society. And she’s used her power as an educated woman in tech to empower others so they might follow the same path. She created Native Rising, an organization to promote the visibility of Native American and indigenous people in the tech industry. They’re taking it a step further by working to improve accessibility and exposure to the tech industry with practices like mentorship, networking and potential job opportunities for Native American students. Thank you, Danielle, for being a strong role model and using your #powertoempower so many others! (image via Danielle Forward and Medium)
Both Jamira and Emma experienced how gun violence can infiltrate families and communities, and have turned that experience into activism. Jamira’s activism came out of personal tragedy, losing her brother to gun violence. Emma’s activism came from turning a traumatic day into a life committed to changing gun laws. Emma’s life as a normal student ended when 17 students and teachers at her Florida high school tragically died in a senseless mass shooting. Just three days after the scarring incident, Emma and several of her compatriots (Cameron Kasky, Jaclyn Corin and David Hogg) turned anger and anguish into action and activism. She’s risen to national acclaim with her impassioned speeches directly calling out leaders for inaction on gun control legislation, founded the March for Our Lives to push for tighter gun laws and register young people to vote, and she uses her platform and #powertoempower other communities who suffer due to gun violence. Jamira grew up in a neighborhood plagued by regular gun violence. Sparked by the murder of her brother, Jamira organized an anti-violence program in her high school, reducing the rate of violence by 30% and bringing the program to the 10 most dangerous schools in the region. Jamira’s calling for activism continued, and she co-founded GenYNot to foster solution-based dialogue for intergenerational communities and provide a space for young people to contribute. Today, she works to ensure impacted communities have a say in progress, partnering with corporations, non-profits and governments alike. Both women were struck by tragedy, harnessed their own power, and used it to EMPOWER. These are the next generation of leaders. These are the leaders using their #powertoempower.
Melinda Gates has made a household name for herself as the leader in philanthropic giving. She and her husband, Bill Gates, have made the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation an international force for good, fighting infectious diseases, providing opportunities for the world’s poorest and ensuring young people are able to survive and thrive. Over the past 20 years, Melinda Gates has seen the obstacles facing the world’s most vulnerable communities first hand. And what do all these challenges have in common? Women. Melinda knows that “we'll never reach our goals if we don't also address the systematic way that women and girls are undervalued.” She set the standard by defining and treating family planning as a health issue and basic human right, highlighted sanitation and hygiene as a global health challenge, and brought maternal, newborn and child health to the global stage, knowing how deeply these problems affect millions of women and communities around the world. And today, Melinda Gates continues her fight to gender equality with a multi-million-dollar fund to connect women with markets, economically empower women and unlock women’s full potential. She’s sharing all that she’s learned in her new book, “The Moment of Lift” so that we can all get involved and, like Melinda, use our #powertoempower.
Jacinda Ardern is making history time and time again. The youngest-ever leader of New Zealand’s Labour Party, the country’s youngest Prime Minister in 150 years, it’s youngest woman Prime Minister, the second world leader to give birth while in office and the first to bring an infant to the United Nations General Assembly. She’s setting an example for women as they balance leadership and family care. She's created a precedent not only welcoming her child into the world as Prime Minister, but also because she is unmarried and her partner will be the stay-at-home parent – showing young women that they, too, have that choice and showing young men that they too have a choice to be the full-time caregiver. And she’s rising to the occasion to guide her country through trauma with love in her heart and care in mind. Ardern has set the tone for the nation’s grief over the massacre in Christchurch, in which an Australian white supremacist killed 50 Muslims, by embracing the Muslim community and firmly communicating that all in New Zealand are New Zealanders. She’s changing the conversation so that the world focuses on those lost, rather than on the person responsible for the terrible crisis. And she’s ensuring they aren’t lost in vain – fast-tracking gun control legislation within 10 days in direct response to the tragedy. Jacinda Ardern continues to use her position on the world stage and #powertoEMPOWER not only those in New Zealand, but around the world. Thank you, Prime Minister, for your thoughtful work and trailblazing leadership.
Sohini Chakraborty knows how to dance it out. Using her experience and background in both sociology and classical Indian dance, Sohini uses her #powertoempower survivors of trafficking and gender-based violence and works with them to overcome trauma through dance movement therapy. Sohini realized that survivors needed to redefine and own their relationship with their own body. She starts helping them reclaim their bodies by having them move in the way they would when accomplishing small tasks like making tea, then builds up their comfort and physicality by encouraging them to physically express their emotions. Sohini provides a safe space for these survivors, who have overcome so much, to heal on their own terms. Her organization, Kolkata Sanved, now provides dance movement therapy for survivors of violence, exploitation and trafficking, as well as children living in rural and urban slums, childcare institutions, red light areas, or in conflict with the law. Sohini is already doing so much to use her #powertoempower, and we’re excited to watch as her dance movement therapy students heal, grow and begin using their own #powertoempower as well.
Serena Williams has faced criticism, racism, sexism and so much more – and none of that has stopped her from redefining what “champion” means, conquering her career, becoming a mother, building a brand and business, using her #powertoempower and putting women and minorities at the center. Being one of the greatest athletes of all time with 23 Grand Slam titles would be enough, but Serena Williams has done so much more. She’s bucked tradition to reinvigorate the way tennis is not only played, but looks. She’s identified double standards when criticized for being “emotional” where others would be lauded for being “passionate.” She’s embraced her partner brands and used their platforms to fight for gender equality and women’s empowerment. And she’s used her platform and her power to pay it forward, investing in women- and African-American-owned businesses – attempting to close the investment gap in these companies. And, in the last few years, she’s opened and driven a conversation about motherhood and maternal care that has been long overdue. After giving birth to her daughter, Serena had a symptom of pulmonary embolism and alerted the medical staff immediately, who discounted her perspective and tested for other issues. Had she not asserted herself about what the condition was, Serena could have been one of the roughly 700 women who die each year in the United States due to childbirth complications – complications that disproportionately affect Black women. Serena Williams is a powerful athlete, mogul, mother and woman. Thank you, Serena, for always using your #powertoEmpower!
More than 20 years ago, the seeds for the #metoo movement were planted. The movement took shape more than 10 years ago. And more than a year ago, the movement caught fire and the world understood the power of those who raised their hands and said #metoo. Tarana Burke, a civil rights activist, founded the ‘me too’ movement in 2006 to help sexual violence survivors, particularly Black women and girls and other young women of color from low wealth communities, find pathways to healing and access resources. The vital conversation about sexual violence was thrust into international dialogue after actress and activist Alyssa Milano sent a tweet asking women to stand in solidarity – and more than 19 million replied with personal stories about sexual assault, harassment and violence, igniting a global call for overdue action. Tarana Burke and Alyssa Milano, along with so many others, used their voices, their experiences and #powertoempower an international phenomenon that has emboldened survivors and demonstrated the impact sexual violence has on so many.
Information is for everyone and online, anything is possible. Those are the beliefs that drive Esra’a Al Shafei, the executive director of Majal.org – a nonprofit whose digital platforms provide a space for under-represented populations in the Middle East and North Africa to express themselves and build community. Living in Bahrain, she witnessed many injustices. She saw those who spoke out against those injustices punished or silenced. But she knew that she needed to not only speak out, but allow others to do the same. She used her #powertoempower vulnerable communities and build four unique platforms that now form Majal.org designed to amplify the voices of oppressed populations and create community around the daunting issues people in the Middle East face every day. For example, Ahwaa.org is an incredibly innovative open discussion platform for Arab #lgbtq individuals that uses game mechanics to both protect and engage its community – ensuring negative actors are kept out of discussion boards by incentivizing positive interaction and connection. Majal.org’s innovative approach to information and discourse is changing the fabric of social culture in the Middle East. Esra’a really uses her #powertoEMPOWER and change fundamentally change the way people access information and build community.
As Chairman of Universal Filmed Entertainment Group, VV Board Member Donna Langley has had a hand in many of the major motion pictures that have dominated popular culture. From Fast & Furious, to Pitch Perfect, to Jurassic Park and MANY more, Donna has expanded and reinvigorated some of our favorite household titles. And she has done all of that while ensuring diversity is represented in front of, and behind, the camera. Donna uses her #powertoempower and tell real, authentic and diverse stories. She has worked with @universalpictures to ensure they are educating film students on the business aspects behind film making, so that larger pools of talent apply for more jobs and therefore provide more perspective in the movie development process. She has ensured Universal’s distribution process is one that does not only produce major blockbusters, but has the freedom to greenlight smaller films to ensure a diverse range of stories are being told. And, she uses her seat at the table to ensure films that put women and minorities at the center are not only made, but promoted, screened and seen.
The pen has real power! That’s how journalists Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey have used their #powertoempower throughout their careers. Jodi’s reporting as has incited meaningful, positive changes at corporations like Amazon and Starbucks. She has uncovered entrenched gender issues such as issues working mothers face and breastfeeding, and reviewing women in business schools. Megan has spent her career investigating and revealing the treatment of women and children. Her work spurred the creation of new laws to protect children against “private re-homing,” when parents would give children they no longer wanted to strangers via the Internet, and made Illinois pass a law to test every rape kit after she exposed how DNA evidence was being shelved for too long. Together, these changemaking journalists broke the story of decades of sexual abuse allegations against Harvey Weinstein, not only exposing the abuse of power from one person, but unveiling a culture of sexual harassment and assault. Their work catapulted the #MeToo movement to center stage, has shifted culture and catalyzed new laws, polices and standards of accountability around the world. Thank you, Jodi and Megan, for using your pens and your #powertoempower!