UNITED STATE OF WOMEN 2018 RECAP
In 2016, back when we were called Speaking of Everything, we were nominated to attend the United State of Women Summit at the White House (under President Obama’s Administration) and we were over the moon and beyond excited. That didn’t quite pan out the way we hoped, but #nevergiveup! We were absolutely honored to attend as media this year at the Los Angeles summit earlier this month. According to their mission statement, “the United State of Women is national organization for any woman who sees that we need a different America for all women to survive and thrive —and wants to work collectively to achieve it.” Obviously this is something we are completely behind and couldn’t be more thrilled to be a part of.
This year’s lineup was incredible! The day started with about 6,000 women sitting in Shrine Auditorium for opening remarks. One of the things that the USOW team did best was making sure that the day included all different types of women from different intersections. Black, White, Latinx, and indigenous women, trans women, the LGBTQIA+ community, women with disabilities, etc. I really appreciated the intentional diversity. We laughed, we learned, we cried. The summit was truly an incredible experience that we were extremely fortunate to witness. From Elaine Welteroth (Former Editor in Chief of Teen Vogue) to United States Senator Kamala Harris to Jane Fonda (actress and activist) to our Forever FLOTUS Michelle Obama, I am so excited to share our favorite parts.
At one point very early in the schedule, we heard from several survivors from Nassar's sexual assault crimes, including Olympian Aly Raisman, Tiffany Lopez, Jeanette Antolin, and Jordyn Wieber. The survivors shared their stories and at the end were joined by singer/songwriter FLETCHER who sang her absolutely beautiful original song,”I Believe You.” The room was overcome with such emotion. It was a moment I will never forget. Later in the day, Tarana Burke (creator of the #MeToo Movement) echoed these same sentiments and reminded us to “Be gentle with yourself. Don’t let life be consumed by the work because taking care of yourself is part of the work” and encouraged us to “Let [our] existence be resistance.”
Another highlight from the day was hearing from Ibtihaj Muhammad, Olympic medalist and the first women to represent the USA while wearing a hijab, who was joined on stage by the COO and President of Mattel. She spoke about representation and failure among other things. One of my favorite quotes of hers was “We have everything inside of us that we need to be successful and we don’t need other people’s permission to be great.” She was so proud to represent her race, religion and country at the Olympics. It was a reminder for us all to be our unapologetic selves while we strive for greatness.
One of my favorite segments, aside from Michelle Obama, was when actress and activist Jane Fonda and Patrisse Cullors, co-founder of Black Lives Matter and author, took the stage together. They shared their personal experiences and how things are different for Americans based on race. I loved listening to them both as they opened up about their lives. Jane Fonda spoke very candidly about how her privilege allows her to experience a very different America than black people and POC. She makes it a point to use her power to call out the systematic racism and oppression that exists for many Americans. Patrisse shared about her personal experience with the police and how they treated her brother and how that sparked a lifelong commitment to the work she does now. It was great to see these two women from different walks of life come together and use their voices to make us stronger.
Elaine Weltheroth was joined on stage by actress Yara Shahidi, Senator Kamala Harris, and activist Brittany Packnett. It gave me chills to sit and listen to them speak. There was one part that has truly resonated with me where Senator Harris asked the audience if we had every been in a situation where we were the only one in the room who looked like us. She asked us to look around the room and remember all of the women that were there in that moment. She said that when we have those times were we feel alone, to remember that everyone that was in the room is there with us. As I look back over my life, I remember countless moments like the one she described and was grateful for this new perspective.
We ended the day with a conversation between Michelle Obama and Tracee Ellis Ross. It was a dream come true to see both of these amazing women. The Shrine erupted in applause, squeals and cheers as both ladies took the stage. From there, we all listened anxiously as two friends shared candid conversation about leadership qualities in girls and women, parenting, and what to call Michelle Obama. Pinch me because I still can’t believe we got to be there for this. The biggest takeaway for me, among many others, was when Michelle Obama said that as women “We are still too grateful to have a seat at the table to really shake it up.” A WORD! She also reminded us to be reasonable with one another and not hold ourselves and other women to standards that we don’t hold men to. She was so full of life lessons and reminded us all that everyday we get the chance to practice who we want to be.
In a world that sometimes feels futile, it was refreshing to be surrounded by thousands of likeminded women trying to make the changes we want to see. The Summit was so much more powerful than we can capture in words, but we have a video with clips from our favorite parts
On the second day, attendees got to pick different calls to action and workshops to attend. We attended two different sessions. One was held at the Writer's Guild and the other was at Marvista Studios in Los Angeles. Here is one of our favorite moments from that experience.
Overall, this was an incredible and humbling experience. We are honored to have attended and are excited to see how the future unfolds. THE FUTURE IS FEMALE.