TEDWomen: innovators, idea-generators, architects of change

 The Asphalt Orchestra today have opened the TEDWomen, conference dedicated to women who are (re)shaping the future, sharing an amazing talks from the fields they have pioneered. Event is taking place in Washington, DC,  December 7-8, 2010, and I have been privileged to get the access, live tweet out,  right now there is a break in between the sessions.  You can find my tweets here (with #tedwomen), talks are changing very fast and the schedule is not necessarily strictly prompt. Follow the hashtag #TEDWomen for all other tweets on live talks.


TedWomen started on Day One with hilarous Hans Rosling who talked about the usage of the earth energy and the environment in the Western and emerging counties using ingenious allegories, while  Hanna Rosin talked on the importance of education and gender equality, some stereoptyes in this context, and new female superheros.  Elizabeth Lindsey, ethnographer of the National Geographic Society, gave an amazing performance of chanting on stage, talking about navigation and information overload; while Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg talked on balancing business and private life.

The next day women from the sessions “Composers”, “Harmony &Discord”, and “Crescendo”, got my attention with inspiring talks on various topics. MBI (molecular breast imaging) inventor Dr Deborah Rhodes, showed how gamma method is more punctual than mammography in breast cancer detection, stressing out that the manuscript on MBI was rejected by four scientific journals because “the conflict of interest”, and it is finally to be published in Journal of Radiology. Something to think about science, humanity, ethics, and scientific publishing.

Amber Case, digital philosopher and Cyborg Anthropologist, started her talk with “All of you are Cyborgs every time you look at computer screen”, emphasising that people don’t take time for mental (self)reflection anymore, and kids today live the instant button clicking culture. Cyber anthropology is interdisciplinary area so there’s a lot to say about the above mentioned topics. Kate Orff, environmentalist architect,  introduces the new invention, hero of the ecology and urbanism ‘the oyster” that improves ecosystems. Roboticist, Cynthia Breazeal, who founded personal robot at MIT, talked about robots (applications) in the communication technologies: screen, mobile, expressive, performing collaborative tasks, and social engagement.

Surprise speaker on stage was The US Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, talking about women issues world wide, introducing the new project with the deployment of technology: Mobile Justice initiative in the third world countries, e.g. Africa, where women can memo their testimonials or record the files on the mobile phones. Naomi Klein, author and activist, talked on the recent oil disaster, climate crisis and the environment, emphasising that the problem is our master narrative: “we are going to be saved”, but our secular religion is technology. Jody Williams, Nobel peace laureate, had the punch line: taking the action to reclaim the meaning of peace.” I liked her creative idea that planting the trees may be the solution to peace and for the environment perseverance.

Iranian artist in exile Shirin Neshat shared her personal story and life challenges through identity, politics, religion, and talked about her debut film: Woman without Man, based on the banned novel by Shahrnush Parsipur who spent five years in prison. Joan Halifax, Zen Priest, addressed an issue of the compassion and its challenges, in a similar pathos as Donna Karan, fashion designer, who shared her story on birth and death transformations in the critical moments in her life.

The culmination of  TEDWomen conference was touching, wonderful story of  Eve Ensler, best known for her play Vagina Monologues, founder of V-Day movement to end violence against women and girls globally. Beside The Monologues, she talked about other women stories world wide, how she perceived her body, how she felt her body when she realised that she had a cancer, and how she is perceiving it now. This brave women finished her talk with “if you are divided from your body, then you are divided from the body of the world”, giving the recipe for the survival of women with issues and challenges: attention and resources are that everybody deserves.

Those were my personal notes (in short) and tweet highlights, for other information check out the full program and the bios of the speakers. It was an interesting conference and I’m looking forward to see in the future more inspiring, strong, creative, innovative women world wide who are reshaping the world and making the difference while, as the former  US Secretary of State mentioned, supporting each other. Maybe next time I’d come up with my innovative ideas to share them with you. Now I’m asking: what you can learn from these strong women who inspire, and other powwerful women in your surrounding?


  1. Gabriela says:

    Hello Danica:
    To me, the most impressive part were those two mothers whose lives changed on 9/11… in so different ways, and yet, so similar.

  2. Danica says:

    Hi Gabriela,
    I’m glad you found their story inspiring.

  3. Americ says:

    Good work. I find you to be one of the best sources of wisdom on social media now emerging! Keep up the good work. Glad to see TED featured you.

  4. Danica says:

    Thank you, I’m trying. Your words are always motivating and encouraging.

  5. […] TEDWomen: First blog roundup and TEDWomen: innovators, idea-generators, architects of change […]

  6. Liz Friedman says:

    Hello Danica,

    Thank you for this review! I was in shock when just one week before TEDWomen, I was informed by AOL and Blackberry that I was 1 of 4 winners of the TEDWomen’s contest and would be flown down to DC to attend the conference. I had no time to psychologically prepare for the event, and having never been to any TED event before had no idea the ride I was in for. My brain has been reconfigured, my heart has been cracked open and my life will never be the same.

    My experience, I imagine, was like many others who attended for the first time and the reason why one SHOULD attend if possible. Hearing any one of the speakers would have been an inspiring experience. Hearing them all back to back over two days was overwhelming and actually painful for my brain. I really do believe that something fundamental has been changed within me from the mere magnitude of hearing one speaker after another.

    When I hear one speaker in an isolated experience inspire me, I am easily able to say, “oh she/he is a remarkable person. Look at what they think and who they are. How inspiring.” I can put distance between myself and them. I don’t equate myself with that level of brilliance and potential. But hearing the speakers one after another, so different from each other and each incredible in their own right, put ME in the equation. If them, than me. And so it has become. I will not let anything stop me now from bringing mothers the support we deserve, both in the US and abroad.

    Thanks for being on this miraculous journey with me.

  7. Danica says:

    Hi Liz,

    Congratulations on your Award, I am so glad that after your experience, you had a chance to participate at the conference and hear all these women stories.
    I’m not mother yet, but I’m pretty much scared when I hear and read not so nice experiences of other mothers. No one guarantee that, if I decide to be a mother, things will run smoothly. I appreciate my mother even more, being strong and able to brought up us, her children.
    MY respect to you and all other women.
    Solidarity, support and help among women in challenging times is the most important thing I learnt during these two days.

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