Female leaders share their stories of creating empowerment and opportunity.
By Miranda A. Holden
About 300 women attended the third annual Women in the World Texas Summit Monday at Pearl Stable to share their stories of success and inspire others.
Women in the World is a global platform of female leaders on the front line who have saved and enriched lives through impact. This event was sponsored by Toyota Motor Corp., the city of San Antonio and H-E-B.
Former Vanity Fair editor Tina Brown, Women in the World founder and CEO, co-hosted the event with Nancy Inouye, national marketing director of traditional and emerging media for Toyota Motor Sales, USA Inc.; and Sheryl Sculley, San Antonio city manager.
Brianna Golodryga, anchor of Yahoo News and Finance, moderated a panel of four women expressing their thoughts on the Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton campaigns and votes in Texas.
Jenifer Sarver, principal of Sarver Strategies, expressed disappointment about the outcome of Tuesday’s presidential election and said she wanted to give the country an opportunity to have another president to reflect the nation.
The women questioned the role model President-elect Donald J. Trump has been throughout the campaign including his derogatory language against women.
Lorena Chambers, CEO and chief strategist of Chambers Lopez Strategies, encouraged women to vote and said every vote makes a difference.
Golodryga, a U.S. citizen and Russian immigrant who has been in this country over 10 years, said that if Trump does not fulfill his duties as president the country has the opportunity to elect a new candidate in four years.
Sarah Evans, founder of Well Aware, a nonprofit organization, was honored as Toyota Mother of Invention, a program that recognizes women who actively contribute local and global communities through innovation and entrepreneurship.
Well Aware funds and implements clean water systems for underprivileged communities in Kenya, Africa.
She revealed her struggle as a single mother living with her parents and being grateful to make such an impact in the world.
Inouye of Toyota awarded Evans $50,000 for her nonprofit organization to continue affecting the world in a positive way.
The summit highlighted a young Iranian journalist who said she inspires women in the Middle East to perform acts of rebellion through her social movement, My Stealthy Freedom.
Masih Alinejad was jailed at the age of 19 while pregnant as a result of refusing to wear a hijab to show her identity and create freedom for women in Iran.
Because of her bravery, Alinejad was exiled from Iran in 2005 without the ability to see her family.
As she talked, she loosened her hair to reveal shoulder-length curls, exposing to the audience why she did not want to hide them under a piece of cloth because of pre-revolution law the Iranian government forces on women.
“When you don’t have freedom, you can create it,” Alinejad said.
Her speech left the audience cheering for her strength to stand up for her beliefs on women’s rights.
Sandra Uwiringiyimana, activist and author of “How Dare the Run Rise,” spoke on her life growing up as a refugee from Congo, Africa, who survived a massacre at the U.N.’s Gatumba refugee camp in Burundi in 2004.
Uwiringiyimana revealed her experiences going to bed and waking up in horror witnessing death and slaughtering of friends and family members in the massacre.
She said the love of her family was the only thing that kept her strong.
“Just to be alive is an accomplishment,” she said with gratitude during her interview with Brown.
At the age of 12, she moved to New York with her family not knowing English.
Her family learned to adapt in the community and work numerous jobs to make ends meet.
She aspires to become a leader and spokesperson for communities in Congo that are denied rights.
Another story was told by two female veterans reclaiming their power and strength from the battlefield by joining adaptive sports, competitive and recreational sports for people with disabilities.
Darlene Dorsey, reporter at News4/Fox 29 San Antonio, moderated her story.
Retired Army Staff Sgt. Randi Gavell and Marine Lance Cpl. Sarah Rudder shared their strength coping with post-traumatic stress caused by life-threatening injuries in the military.
In Iraq 2006, Gavell survived a crucial explosion detonated by an unmarked vehicle carrying explosives leaving only three of 14 soldiers mobile.
Rudder experienced a broken rib and nose as well as losing a leg.
Both women overcame their challenges by participating in adaptive sports to save their life mentally.
Rudder said she tells her 8 year-old son nothing is going to tear her down. She will rise and be strong for him and other veterans.
Patricia Cornwell, New York Times best-selling author, spoke on ways technology can solve criminal cases in forensics including feminism in America.
“Women should support one another, not be against each other,” she said.
Brown ended the summit expressing how heartening the stories were told by women of courage, fortitude, intelligence and passion.
“I’m so grateful to have these amazing women give up time to say their candid stories and illuminate the world,” Brown said on stage. “Their example should encourage us to be tough, resilient, determined, and passionate as we stand up for the dignity of women everywhere.”
Attendee Eric Matthews said it was eye-opening to hear every individual story.
“More men need to hear women speak about struggles they face to possibly change their perspective on women,” Matthews said.
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