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10 TED Talks by Women that Provoke, Empower, and Challenge the Status Quo

November 2, 2017

We’re excited to be in New Orleans for this year’s TEDWomen, where women from all over the world have convened to hear from innovative thinkers giving talks centering on the theme of “Bridges,” an exploration of “ideas from medical to sociological, science, technology and design, as well as relationships, personal stories and perspectives that offer bridges across race, background, belief, opinion and other differences that divide.”

We looked back at our favorite TED talks by inspiring female social entrepreneurs, activists, and change makers with bold visions and powerful stories. You can watch all the videos in this playlist.

Sally Osberg | Breaking Boundaries, Empowering Women

In this inspiring talk, Sally Osberg highlights the power of women social entrepreneurs like Ann Cotton and Ma. Cecilia Flores-Oebanda who are working on the frontlines of social change. She discusses the importance of fostering these connections, empowering women, and crossing boundaries.

Sakena Yacoobi | How I Stopped the Taliban from Shutting Down My School

Sakena Yacoobi is a force to be reckoned with. When the Taliban closed all the girls’ schools in Afghanistan, she set up new schools and educated thousands of women and men. Yacoobi, executive director of the Afghan Institute of Learning, shares her story of two dangerous encounters with the Taliban and shares her vision for rebuilding her country. “Education changed my life,” she says. “It transformed me. It gave me status. It gave me confidence. It gave me a career.”

Karen Tse | How to Stop Torture

In too many countries—even in ‘functioning’ legal systems—prisoners are routinely tortured for confessions and information. Karen Tse, social activist and CEO of International Bridges to Justice (IBJ), works to change that: “I believe it is possible to end torture in my lifetime.” By helping countries develop criminal justice systems to implement these laws, IBJ is dramatically improving and even saving the lives of everyday citizens.

Eleanor Allen | Water is a women’s issue. Here’s why.

Access to water is a global crisis: over 25 percent of the world lacks clean water, and 33 percent lacks toilets. While the crisis affects billions of people all over the world, Eleanor Allen explores the reasons why access to water is a women’s issue. As the CEO of Water for People, Allen is fiercely passionate about finding solutions for global water and sanitation services.

Jessica Jackley | Poverty, Money, and Love

Jessica Jackley believes that money, combined with love and support, can be a powerful combination. In this motivating talk, she explains how her attitude on giving changed and why she was moved to co-found Kiva, which connects people through lending to alleviate poverty.

Mary Robinson | Why Climate Change is a Threat to Human Rights

Climate change is unfair. The rich countries most affected by climate change often aren’t the ones doing the most damage. Instead, the poor people around the world are undergoing starvation, land loss, and devastating storms. Mary Robinson, the first female president of Ireland, explains why she is passionate about climate change, and why it is a human rights issue.

Memory Banda | A Warrior’s Cry Against Child Marriage

In Memory Banda’s country of Malawi, saying “my mother or father can’t force me to marry” is like a warrior’s cry. Despite all the odds against her, she led a movement to end child marriage in Malawi that has changed laws — and is now changing hearts and minds. Her vision for the future? That millions of girls worldwide will be able to say, “I will marry when I want.”

Charmian Gooch | Meet Global Corruption’s Hidden Players

When the son of the president of a desperately poor country suddenly starts buying mansions and sportscars, Charmian Gooch suggests, corruption is probably somewhere in the picture. In this eye-opening talk, she details how global corruption trackers follow the money — to some surprisingly familiar faces. Her organization, Global Witness, works to “out” corrupt companies and bring transparency to business.

Rebecca Onie | What if our Healthcare System Kept Us Healthy?

Rebecca Onie envisions a healthcare system that is restructured to prevent — and not just treat — illness. She describes Health Leads, an organization that addresses the socioeconomic issues that lead to poor health by prescribing basic resources like food and heat for homes, alongside prescription medications. “I believe that at the end of the day, when we measure our health care, it will not be by the diseases cured, but by the diseases prevented.”

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie | The Danger of a Single Story

In one of the most popular TED talks of all time, Novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie shares several personal stories to warn against listening to only a single story about a person or nation, which can lead to ignorance and stereotyping. She stresses: “stories have been used to dispossess and to malign, but stories can also be used to empower and to humanize.”

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