TED Women - the first ever TED (Technology Entertainment and Design) conference to focus exclusively on women - took place globally over the last 48 hours. The cross-disciplinary, cross-generational program focused on how women think and work, communicate and collaborate, learn and lead, exploring what this means and why it matters to all of us.
With over a hundred events taking place both in the conference hub of Washington DC and at various TEDx locations around the world there was a lot to take in so here are some of the quotes and ideas we found inspirational, moving and educational:
Halla Tomasdottir - the co-founder of Audur Capital financial services - gave a presentation about feminine values in finance and how they have been instrumental in rebuilding the Icelandic economy after the global financial crisis. Risk awareness, straight talking, the understanding that people (not spreadsheets) make decisions and the idea that profit can come in the form of social and environmental benefits are all ideas she has incorporated into her practice which any business can learn from. The final section of her talk focused on the madness of replicating a financial system that failed catastrophically hoping for different results: "We must fight the urge to rebuild the systems that have failed us."
Other speakers pointed the spotlight on issues around basic human rights and survival. Madama Callista Mutharika of Malawi pointed out that women are still dying every day from preventable causes and called for commitment and action: "Any one of us can commit to this: that no woman should die during childbirth." Madeleine Albright echoed this concern: "Women's issues are the hardest issues; they are the ones that have to do with life and death." Global health advocate Stephen Lewis also drew attention to failures in huge global organisations when it comes to women's rights and issues: "We have no illusions about the UNs six-decade failure to protect women. Let's not pretend utopia is imminent."
A third major focus was on day-to-day life. Blogger Courtney Martin's quote will probably have a lot of resonance with the smartphone-wielding women of the world: "Our generation is painted as apathetic. I'd say we're overwhelmed." While Arianna Huffington's idea for changing the world is as simple as it is brilliant: "Sleep." How many of us forgo sleep in favour of other commitments as if it's an indulgent optional extra?
For those wondering how, in the face of some extreme obstacles, women and girls can continue reshaping the world and the future Sheryl Sandburg, COO of Facebook, sums it up: "No one gets to the corner office by sitting on the side." To see female influence women must be present and be allowed to be present across the board. The result of this? To quote Hillary Rodham Clinton: "Where girls and women flourish, our values are also reflected."
And to anyone who has even the tiniest suspicion that TED Women may only have relevance to half the world's population we'll leave you with this piece of wisdom from educator and activist Tony Porter: "My liberation as a man is tied to your liberation as a woman."
Let us know how the women and girls you know are reshaping the world.