Actors, Filmmakers and Ambassadors Join to Celebrate Global Women’s Empowerment at Meridian

On Thursday, September 15, Meridian International Center, with partners The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and The Independent Television Service (ITVS), celebrated the launch of Meridian’s Council on Women’s Leadership. This special evening program also highlighted the forthcoming CPB, ITVS, and PBS global public media campaign, Women and Girls Lead, which includes 50 powerful documentaries designed to focus, educate, and connect citizens worldwide in support of the issues facing women and girls.

Ambassador Stuart Holliday, Meridian’s President and CEO, welcomed guests and set the stage for the evening ahead, while Meridian’s Senior Vice President and Deputy, Ambassador Sharon Wilkinson, shared remarks on Meridian’s Council on Women’s Leadership. The “emcee” for the evening, Patricia de Stacy Harrison, Meridian Trustee and CPB’s President and CEO, outlined the Women and Girls Lead initiative before guests were treated to a sneak preview of this media campaign, which includes documentary film, online forums, and associated special events.

Over dinner at the historic Meridian House, guests also previewed Women, War, & Peace, a five-part film series exploring women’s strategic role in post-conflict settings and the peace building process. The series, executive produced by Abigail Disney and including her award-winning documentary, Pray the Devil Back to Hell, will premiere at 10pm on Tuesday, October 10th on PBS.

Geena Davis, actor and founder of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, provided her insights on the role of women in the media — from underrepresentation to stereotypes particularly in film and on television - which set the stage for a panel discussion to follow. Abigail Disney, and Ambassador Donald Steinberg, Deputy Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, joined Ms. Davis and Ms. Harrison on stage for a lively conversation with astounding statistics about the lack of women both at the table during the peace processes, and on television and film screens across the U.S.

When asked about what the next steps are for women, the panelists agreed that investing in women and having them participate more fully in their respective communities — economically, politically, and personally - is statistically proven to provide a substantial and reliable return.

The evening concluded with a directive to all attendees to find ways to give opportunities and voice to women and girls in their own lives — whether in the corporate world or in their own homes and families. The partnership between Meridian, CPB and ITVS will continue via the upcoming Global Perspectives film series, which will premiere at Meridian on Wednesday, October 19th with the documentary, Peace Unveiled.

Project summary

Actors, Filmmakers and Ambassadors Join to Celebrate Global Women’s Empowerment at Meridian | September 2011
Impact Areas: Empowering Women and Girls
Program Areas: Diplomatic Engagement, Culture
Partners: Diplomatic Corps, Individuals/Donors
L to R: Patricia de Stacy Harrison, Geena Davis, Abigail Disney, Ambassadors Donald Steinberg and Stuart Holliday, and Tamara Gould share the belief that investing in women is in our national interest.