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Hillary Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Cecile Richards, Rashida Jones, America Ferrera, and Ken Burns. These are just a few of the many strong women and supportive men I heard speak at the three- day Women in the World Summit on April 3-5, 2014. The Women in the World Summit, which is in its 5th year, works to create awareness for many women’s issues as well as to encourage women to achieve greatness. There were women inventors, politicians, human rights activists, authors, and actresses, all interviewed by high-profile journalists including Katie Couric and Jon Stewart. They spoke about many important current events, like the crisis in Syria, the achievements of women entrepreneurs in South America, the body-image issues plaguing our gender, the United States lagging in education, and how a creative woman created a boxing club for inner city youth in Chicago. Even the not-as-well-known names had something to offer in terms of inspiration and ideas.

One of the people I was most excited to see was Hillary Clinton. I have loved Hillary since I was tiny. While other girls worshipped Hannah Montana in fourth grade, I was campaigning for Hillary Clinton to be the first female president. When she stepped on the stage with Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the international monetary fund, my breath caught. Interviewed by Thomas L. Friedman a foreign affairs columnist for the New York Times, the three of them spoke humorously and philosophically about foreign policy and the need to have more women in government (with quite a few subtle and not so subtle attempts to get Clinton to announce her candidacy for 2016). When Friedman mentioned the option for both of them to lead their respective countries in the future, the two grasped hands in a gesture that has flooded the Internet and will likely go down in history books.

When President Jimmy Carter took the stage, he was greeted by a standing ovation. He then talked about the work he is doing throughout the world to increase opportunities and equality for women, an issue he has made his life’s work. Rashida Jones, an actress best known for her role in Parks and Recreation, spoke about the “pornification of everything” in which she stressed the idea of girls watching the media in which everything is sexualized. I had the opportunity to see many of the front liners in the feminist movement throughout the world, many of whom I knew from documentaries and my studies. Some other notable people in attendance included female senators from Maine and New York who spoke on the need of more women in office, the girl’s band Pussy Riot who spoke on their work against Putin and their arrest in Russia. The summit ended with Ukrainian pop singer Ruslana Lyzhychko belting out a song proclaiming freedom while the whole audience lit flashlights, a symbol for freedom in Ukraine.

Every woman and man left the auditorium on Saturday filled with inspiration and hopes. I believe I can speak for everyone there when I say we want to go out and fight for equality. I want to be like the many women who took the stage and make a difference in the world. I want to work so that maybe someday, I too can speak at the Women in the World Summit.



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