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Friday, March 27, 2009

Powerful Women: Shifting The Status Quo

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Session Description

An emerging phenomenon in parts of the developing world is that of women holding power in political structures, including structures previously seen as being the preserve of men. Women also navigate traditional power structures to bring to the fore the economic interests and societal rights of women. Are there robust and sustainable models emerging which can illuminate political, legal and economic power structures? Women share how they brought vitality and hope to their communities.


When | Where

10:45 - 12:15 Friday, March 27

Session leaders

  • Lecturer of Law, University of Pretoria
    Lungowe Matakala is a Zambian citizen teaching at the University of Pretoria in South Africa. Chishinga holds an LLB, an LLM in Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa; and is soon to submit a PhD thesis to the University of Cambridge. Chishinga’s research focuses on the inheritance rights of widows and orphans in Zambia; and how they are disinherited through the application of African customary laws that discriminate. Chishinga is also the Founder and coordinator of EPAHR (Education Prisoners about Human Rights), a community service project that teaches prisoners’rights at the Pretoria Local Correctional Services.
  • Pat Mitchell Speaker
    Founder and President, Pat Mitchell Media
    Pat Mitchell is known for her leadership in the media industry as a CEO, producer and curator. Her career has focused on using media as a force for social change, with an emphasis on the representation of women’s stories. Ms. Mitchell is the former president of CNN Productions, where she executive produced programs that have received 35 Emmy Awards and five Peabody Awards. In 2000, she became the first woman president and CEO of PBS. Mitchell also served as president and CEO of the Paley Center for Media. In 2011, Ms. Mitchell partnered with TEDTalks to co-curate the TEDWomen global conference, which will be held this year New Orleans on November 1st – 3rd. Ms. Mitchell is especially proud to have been recognized by The Women’s Media Center with its first Lifetime Achievement Award. The award is given annually to other women for advancing women through media. She also advises foundations and corporations on women’s empowerment issues and leadership development as well as media relations and governance. She is the chair of the Jordan River Foundation US Board, the Women’s Media Center and the Sundance Institute boards, a founding board member of V-Day, a member of the board of the Acumen Fund, the Skoll Foundation, Participant Media, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. A magna cum laude graduate of the University of Georgia, Mitchell holds bachelor's and master's degrees in English literature. She has taught at the University of Georgia, Virginia Commonwealth University, and at Harvard University’s Institute of Politics.
  • Sakena Yacoobi Speaker
    Dr. Sakena Yacoobi is the founder of the Afghan Institute of Learning, the Professor Sakena Yacoobi Private Hospital in Herat, the Professor Sakena Yacoobi Private High Schools in Kabul (2) and Herat (2), Afghanistan and the radio station, Meraj in Herat Province, Afghanistan. Dr. Yacoobi is also co-founder and Vice-President of Creating Hope International, a Michigan-based non-profit organization. Dr. Yacoobi is Executive Director of the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL), an Afghan women-led NGO she founded in 1995. The organization was established to provide teacher training to Afghan women, to support education for boys and girls, and to provide health education to women and children. Under Sakena’s leadership AIL has established itself as a groundbreaking, visionary organization which works at the grassroots level and empowers women and communities to find ways to bring education and health services to rural and poor urban girls, women and other poor and disenfranchised Afghans. AIL was the first organization to offer human rights and leadership training to Afghan women. AIL supported 80 underground home schools for 3,000 girls in Afghanistan after the Taliban closed girls’ schools in the 1990s. AIL was the first organization that opened Learning Centers for Afghan women—a concept now copied by many organizations throughout Afghanistan. Recently, AIL opened a Legal Clinic to provide free legal services to poor Afghan women and has been hosting large scale peace conferences around Afghanistan, which use the poetry of the Afghan poet Rumi to teach lessons of justice, human rights, good citizenship and living harmoniously.
  • Wu Qing Speaker
    Board Member, Beijing Cultural Development Centre for Rural Women
    Wu Qing had been teaching English from 1960-2000 at Beijing Foreign Studies University. She won many awards for her excellent teaching. Since the mid 1980s, she has been actively promoting human rights and women’s rights. She is on many national and international women NGO boards. She is serving her seventh term as a People’s Deputy to the Haidian People’s Congress, democratically elected. She is the first Deputy to use the Chinese Constitution, the first to meet with constituents on Tuesday afternoon and the first to report her work. She upholds democracy, rule of law, oversight and transparency, regarded as “Deputy with the Constitution” by Chinese media. She won the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Public Service in 2001 and is a Social Entrepreneur nominated by the Schwab Foundation Network of 2003.