TED Women Conference: Breaking Barriers, Raising Voices
We are one of the many lucky women who spoke and attended the historical first-ever TEDWomen Conference held in Washington D.C. last December 7-8. It was never part of our World Pulse Voices of Our Future US speaking tour itinerary last November. I never knew how prestigious and popular TED conferences are and I never thought I would be a part of it.
But I was there with my fellow World Pulse correspondents Sunita of Nepal and Jackie of Bolivia and our World Pulse dynamic famous leaders Jensine, our CEO and Ellen, our Board. Amid the hundreds famous and powerful women and men in the world, we broke barriers and raised our voices. We made it once again after our successful World Pulse Voice of Our Future US speaking tour.
TED is non profit organization and a growing global community devoted to ideas worth spreading. It was born in 1984 out of observation of Richard Saul Wuman of a powerful convergence of Technology, Entertainment and Design (TED). Through the years, TED broadens its areas of interest and attracted many influential people around the world through its conferences. In 2001, Chris Anderson acquired TED and became the curator.
Got inspired by women and young girl’s social, economic and political participation and achievements in re-shaping today’s and future generation, came the first-ever global TEDWomen Conference. It wanted to discover, capture and celebrate women’s work and ideas for social change.
“TEDWomen will focus on the ideas and innovations championed by women and girls. These cover everything from community development to economic growth to biodynamic farming to robotics to medical treatments to the use of technology for personal safety and peace making. Men and women speakers will take the TED Women stage with ideas that are reshaping our future, and matter deeply to all of us”, said Pat Michell during her pre conference interview by the Huffington Post. Pat Michell a multi awarded media personality and the President of a 34 year-old media institution in the US, The Paley Center for media, co-hosted the TED Women Conference.
Sunita and I had a very exciting conversation with Pat after our talk at The Paley Media Center in New York last November 7. She wanted us again to speak at the TEDWomen Conference in D.C. Like kids, running with excitement, we told Jensine and Jackie about Pat’s invitation. Jensine was extremely happy which also generated lots of cheers from our World Pulse community. It was Jensine who brought us to Pat Michell and Pat Michell brought us to the TEDWomen Conference.
Welcome to TED Women Conference, Washington D.C.!
I arrived in Washington D.C, at 10 in the evening of December 5. The beautiful and big green Christmas trees glittering with red, golden and silver lights cheerfully welcomed me at the hotel. My dear friend Sunita and our inspiring leader Ellen was there at the hotel lobby excitedly waiting for me. We were so happy hugging each other again! Jackie who had just arrived from Bolivia was in our room upstairs. Our dear Jensine had not yet arrived.
By the late morning of December 6, we went to register at the JW Marriot, Mezzanine Level and had enjoyable lunch with Ellen at the Latin American Restaurant nearby our hotel. The temperature was freezing but our excitement made us warm.
By 6pm we went to the Speaker’s Reception Dinner at the National Museum of Women for the Art. At first, I felt strange but walking around and smiling with fellow speakers, I was so glad that we found Carla a friend from the Omega Institute. She introduced us to her friends and we felt no strangers anymore. We dined and made new friends and later in the evening we watched the documentary film “Women are Heroes” by JR – a TED Prize winner. JR and I became friend during the conference.
Speaking at the TEDWomen Conference: Didn't Let My Nerves Took Out the Best In Me
The whole morning of December 7 was series of rehearsals with our very dear Jensine for our presentation on the Bonus Session during dinner. Nan, our inspiring and motivational professional coach for the whole speaking tour as well as for the TED Women conference prepared a 2 minute script for each of us. I was so happy for the script Nan made for us based from the presentations we had. She made it so easy for me. Thank you so much Nan!
By 11 am, we were at the Ronald Reagan Building, International Trade Center the venue of the conference. We had our speaker’s briefing giving tips on how to effectively present our piece. We came up stage to have the feel of it and took hold of some technologies used for the program. I was so fascinated.
By 2:30 in the afternoon, we were at the balcony of the amphitheater for the opening of the conference. The Asphalt Orchestra of New York City welcomed the conference with festive musical sounds and movements on stage followed by the alluring opening of Chris Anderson, Pat Mechill and June Cohens about the TEDWomen Conference.
I was so engrossed by the first set of speakers. I was full of curiosity and admiration to all speakers talking about their works and how they excelled in their own field of endeavors. Personalities such as journalist Hanna Rossi , Ted Turner the media magnate, President of Liberia Ellen Jonhson Serleaf, Halla Tomasdotti a finance change agent of Iceland, Hans Rosling a doctor and a researcher and Elizabeth Lindsey an explorer and a National Geography Fellow whom I became my friend.
By 4:30pm, Jensine brought us for the final speaker’s briefing at the International Trade Center Atrium the venue for our presentation. While rehearsing off stage, I could already felt my intense emotion grounding me to my very senses and made me cried. And when I went on stage for my final rehearsal, I felt it was my actual presentation.
It didn’t take so long for our actual presentation after our rehearsal. Sunita was the first one to speak followed by Jackie. While standing on stage waiting for my turn, I felt electrified by my nervousness and my heart was pumping so hard as if it will explode. I’ve never felt such level of nervousness on stage before and I felt I’m going to collapse. I felt light as a feather. I was so scared thinking what if I will collapse or will have mental block out.
But I took courage remembering the words of Jensine before I went upstage that I need to be strong because I’m speaking for the voice of my colleagues and of the Filipino women. Thus, when I deliver my presentation, I didn’t let my nerves took out the best in me. While speaking I could still hear the voice of Nan to look at the eyes of the audience. I was looking at the audience but I couldn’t see anyone because of the very striking camera lights and it was dim. Yet, I could hear their loud applause and cheers. Such applause gave me more confidence on stage till I finish my presentation.
My Heartfelt Thanks to World Pulse and TED
I felt so extraordinary in my entire life because it was the first time I spoke with such kind of preparation and with the kind of audiences I never thought I would be speaking with. I felt so nervous yet fascinated by so many things that happened to me beyond my imagination. My fascination actually started when I joined my World Pulse family last year, got the award and traveled to different cities and met personally my World Pulse family and the powerful women who supported us during the speaking tour.
My TEDWomen participation was an unexpected culmination of my first-ever World Pulse magical journey. I heard and met personally global leaders like Jody Williams a peace activist and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Naomi Klien an activist whom I admired her writing, Eve Ensler a famous film maker of the Vagina Monologue, US State Secretary Hilary Clinton and many more inspiring speakers.
I felt so honored speaking together with powerful and famous women in the world in the Bonus Session and dining together on the same table with US Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Pat Michell and her husband, Angelique Kidjo, a Grammy Award- winning musical recording artist deemed as “Africa’s Premier Diva” by Times magazine, June Colens Director of TED Media who co- hosted the conference and two First Ladies of Sierrra Leone and Malawi who were seated besides our table.
Speaking the voice of the marginalized Filipino women in such a global audience of powerful women and men who listened with all their hearts and mind; having a standing ovation after my presentation and overwhelming inspiring comments from the women and men who came to me personally and on-line was an incredible feeling of success.
I am so happy that some journalists have already joined me like Marcia G. Yerman and SipakV in telling the world that we Filipinas are not servants of the world, we are not mail- order- brides or little brown fucking machines by US servicemen assigned in the Philippines but we are servants of peace and freedom.
My heartfelt gratitude to my World Pulse family – Jensine and her very inspiring team and to Pat Michell and the TED company for making these wonderful times and great memories for me. My commitment as Voices of Our Future correspondent deepens as I struggle forward for a future where peace and justice prevails, a future where women are treated not as commodity and slaves but with worth and dignity.