Few names today are as respected in the world of publishing as Tina Brown's. Taking the helm of Tatler Magazine at 25, Brown went on to serve as Editor-in-Chief of both Vanity Fair and the New Yorker during the 1980s and 1990s, reviving both titles and recasting them into the formats that they continue to embody today.
Now in its seventh year, Brown's organisation, Women In The World, promotes women's issues with the help of some of the world's most powerful female leaders. Click her to lear more about Tina's next Summit
A simple question to start: what does Women In The World hope to accomplish?
Women in the World is a live journalism summit, which I started in 2009 after meeting the incredible women from emerging countries who were fighting on the front lines for their basic rights. Their courage and gusto was so impressive we wanted to bring them to a wider audience. The idea is to combine on stage these unknown heroines with celebrated women everyone has heard of and command attention to bring them the spotlight they deserve. For instance Hillary Clinton, Angelina Jolie and Meryl Streep, who have all joined us many times. But also, the women rescuing girls from sex trafficking in India, the brave Yazidi women working in the refugee camps in Iraq, the young North Korean girl who escaped by walking across the Gobi desert with her mother. From the first year, it became clear how much energy and momentum the summit was generating and that we had stumbled on a rising global women's movement with extraordinary, inspiring voices taking action to change their lives and cultures.
But what actually happened was something I didn’t expect, was that the women in America who watched them became reignited in their own feminism. It was like “wait a minute we’ve forgotten here about what still needs to be done.” I actually think that the global women’s movement has helped to re-ignite women’s movements in the West. I feel a rising excitement about it in England, where young women especially find activism on behalf of women cool and courageous.
You’ve stated, about Women In The World, that "we read the headlines in the news, but we seldom get to hear individual stories". Are there any films about women's individual struggles that have particularly moved you recently? We’re excited to see that you’re spotlighting Suffragette at your London summit.
Yes, Suffragette is absolutely inspiring. Another inspiring film about women is Saving Face, the incredible Oscar-winning documentary by Pakistani journalist Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, that follows two women in Pakistan who were victims of acid attacks and their journey through healing and finding justice. The new film about Malala, is another that makes you leave the cinema so humbled by her incredible courage.
The London summit will be taking place in early October, featuring the likes of Meryl Streep, Nicola Sturgeon, Carrie Mulligan and countless others. Do you find that the tone of the summits differs across countries?
Very much so. The important thing is to feel the pulse of the city that you’re in. For us to come to London without bringing stories of the Syrian refugees pouring into Europe would be unthinkable. At the same time, Cara Delevingne is a young woman who is a role model to millions of followers, so she will be joining us too. Similarly in India, the question of work life balance and how a woman strives with the difficulties of leaving the old traditions for the modernity of independence is a major topic and so that’s something we will for sure cover when bringing the summit to New Delhi on Nov 20.
Amy Pascal famously opened up about her experiences at Sony at a WITW summit. Do you feel that these summits offer a venue for women to be more candid than they perhaps would be during interviews with mainstream media?
Absolutely, women feel in the right setting to speak the truth about themselves at our summit because they know they will be heard and appreciated in ways they cannot be elsewhere. Amy was so candid because she felt safe and as a result she got a great reception. We have had similar experiences with Hillary Clinton and Christine Lagarde in conversation together, and Condoleezza Rice who spoke so movingly about the death of her father at one of our summits, a side of her we had not seen before when she was in politics.
The London summit has really amazing, inspiring women, and plenty of great young role models too, such as Sonita Alizadeh, an 18-year-old Afghan Rapper who escaped child marriage and wrote a song about her experience and Abibatu, a teenage girl from Sierra Leone who survived Ebola, but lost her father and brother to the disease. She now devotes her time tending to homeless children orphaned by the Ebola virus.