What The Women In The World Can Teach You | Verve Magazine
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December 03, 2015

What The Women In The World Can Teach You

Text by Natasha Sahjwani. Live quotes by Shraddha Jahagirdar-Saxena and Bijal Mehta. Images courtesy 'Women In The World'

What happens when you put some of the most extraordinary women from across the globe in a room?

“Indian women don’t flinch in the face of challenge.” – Tina Brown

From extraordinary activism to powerful leadership, innovative entrepreneurship to path-breaking journalism, the women of today are embarking on a revolutionary journey of change, challenging the norms of society. Founded in 2009 by Tina Brown, Women In The World recognizes  change-makers from different sectors. India’s first-ever Women In The World summit held recently in New Delhi, brought together a stellar line-up of notable names including actresses Madhuri Dixit and Nandita Das, reporter Barkha Dutt, Iranian female race car driver Laleh Seddigh; former World Bank Vice President for Africa Obiageli Ezekwesili and many other extraordinary women. The summit opened doors to a broad range of topics and concerns, including the #BringBackOurGirls campaign, the refugee crisis, extremism, the anatomy of violence and change.


“My personal liberty is cherished by me above all else. We should not focus on gender equality at work, our battle is about equality at home, equal parenting, equal housework.” – Barkha Dutt (Director, Barkha Dutt Media and Consulting Editor, NDTV)

“You have to question stereotypes. The issues are those relating to the community. We need to change people’s minds.” – Padmasree Warrior (Former Chief Technology and Strategy Officer, Cisco)

“Terrorism does not sit with itself within a boundary. When the girls are abducted, I told leaders — ‘Don’t leave this to my country alone. We have to work together’.” – Dr Obiageli Ezekwesili (co-founder, Bring Back Our Girls and Former Vice President, World Bank’s Africa Division)

“Accountability is a good word in reference to politicians when it comes to dealing with terrorism.”– Rajdeep Sardesai (Senior Journalist)

Fire was my first film. I am still asked, who was better to kiss…Shabana Azmi or Rahul Khanna?” – Nandita Das (Actor, Director, Activist)

“The movie Fire started a process of questioning. I figured if the audience could empathise with the two women who are considered ‘the other’, they would extend the empathy to several others.” – Shabana Azmi (Actress, Activist, Former Member of Parliament)

Fire was my first real movie. When it was brought down from theatres, there was heartbreak. But years later it is regarded as amongst the top lesbian films.” – Deepa Mehta (Filmmaker)

“In India, we have the cornerstone of the mother who helps the child to channel anger into something more productive.”– Smriti Zubin Irani (Minister of Human Resource Development, Government of India)

“The international community has come together with sustainable goals. Inclusive governance and community leadership is going to be critical in global initiatives.” – Samantha Power (U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations)

“Managing kids is harder than negotiating with Russia.” – Samantha Power

“You need to know, love and respect your community to do philanthropy.” – Zarina Screwvala (Founder and Managing Trustee, Swades Foundation)

“Beauty cannot be defined. It is individualistic.” – Lakshmi Menon (Model)

“I had to be a female driver but act like a man.” – Laleh Sedigh (Iranian Champion Race Car Driver)

“I grew up in a family where we were treated equally, when I saw disparity around, it aggravated me. I gravitate towards roles where women are stronger.” – Madhuri Dixit (Actor)

“In my story, I had access to healthcare, education and the opportunity to work. And above all the power to make my own choices. I won a lottery by birth, then I won a lottery called education….then I met Mukesh, who encouraged my passions.” – Nita Ambani (Founder and Chairperson, Reliance Foundation)

“When caste, class and gender collide, injustice is multiplied.” – Barkha Dutt 

“All of us who have opportunities should never hesitate to use them for those not as privileged as us. Let go of the baggage of our past, and understand that we cannot change our history and geography. Women find power outside the home, often despite the home, not because of it.” – Sherry Rehman (Senator)

“I consider myself a storyteller, but real life stories are more inspiring.” – Cate Blanchett (Actress)


The Journey Of A Megastar: Madhuri Dixit

Madhuri Dixit in conversation with Verve‘s editor-at-large, Parmesh Shahani.


Gone Girls

Dr. Obiageli Ezekwesili has kept the fire of outrage alive regarding the fate of hundreds of Nigerian schoolgirls who have been abducted by the Islamic terror group Boko Haram. With her campaign #BringBackOurGirls she sparks awareness of the concern and is still fighting to find them.

In Conversation With Cate Blanchett

Actor and activist Cate Blanchett leads a discussion with journalist Zainab Salbi, photojournalist Lynsey Addario and the UNHCR’s Melissa Fleming about the harrowing plight of refugees globally during the 2015 Women in the World Summit in New Delhi.


Iran’s Road Warrior

A conversation with Iran’s first female champion race car driver on defying convention, shattering stereotypes and driving change.


The Anatomy of Violence

What does the cycle of brutal attacks on women say about the social, legal, and economic challenges facing Indian society?

Verve At The WITW Summit

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