Learn more about the hosts of TEDWomen 2017.
Alaa Murabit's family moved from Canada to Libya when she was 15. Brought up in a Muslim household where she was equal to her brothers, she was shocked to see how women were viewed and treated in her new country. She enrolled in medical school, but felt frustrated by the gender discrimination she experienced.
During her fifth year in med school, the Libyan Revolution broke out. Murabit was invigorated by how women were embraced as decision-makers in the movement. She founded The Voice of Libyan Women (VLW) to focus on challenging societal and cultural norms to make that the case all the time. Many VLW programs -- like the Noor Campaign, which uses Islamic teaching to combat violence against women -- have been replicated internationally.
Murabit is an advisor to many international security boards, think tanks and organizations, including the UN Women Global Civil Society Advisory Group and Harvard’s Everywoman Everywhere Coalition. An Ashoka Fellow, Murabit was a Trust Women Hero Award Winner in 2013.
Jacqueline Novogratz writes: "I want to build a movement in which we define success based on the amount of human energy we release in the world.
"I started my career on Wall Street and soon discovered that markets are efficient, but by themselves they too often overlook or exploit the poor. So I moved to Rwanda in 1986 to help found the country’s first micro-finance bank. There I saw the humanitarian ethos of philanthropy, and also how often top-down solutions too often create dependency, the opposite of dignity. Through 30 years of working on solutions to poverty, I have come to redefine it for myself, seeing it not as how much income a person earns, but how free they are to make their own choices and decisions, how much agency they have over their own lives.
Acumen was founded to change the way the world tackles poverty in 2001. Our mission was simple – to raise philanthropy and invest it as patient capital – long-term investment in intrepid entrepreneurs willing to go where markets and government had failed the poor. We enable companies to experiment and fail, never wavering from a commitment to stand with the poor, yet understanding that profitability is necessary for sustainable solutions. We’ve invested more than $110M across South Asia, Africa, Latin America and the US, and have seen entire sectors disrupted and hundreds of millions served.
The work also taught that it was critical to invest in talent. To date, we’ve supported nearly 400 Acumen Fellows across lines of race, class, ethnicity, religion and ideology. They are a beautiful group, full of vision and grit, and a determination to do what is right, not easy. The group itself enables individual leaders to endure the loneliness that is part of the work.
And then we measure what matters rather than just what we can count. Take this all together and you see our mission to do what it takes to build a world in which all of us have the chance to dream and to flourish, not from a place of easy sentimentality but through a commitment to using the tools of capitalism and the attributes of moral leadership to focus on doing what it takes, and no less.
Jean Oelwang writes: "I live in awe every day at the wonders of this great planet and the wisdom of the interconnectedness of all living things, and in hope that we will figure out how to stop screwing up the world for future generations by learning how to partner and collaborate in time to co-create an operating manual for Spaceship Earth that recognises 'it has to be everybody or nobody,' as Buckminster Fuller stated so eloquently.
"Over the past thirty years, I’ve had the opportunity to work with and learn from: homeless teenagers in the US; the natural wonders of the Australian National Parks; teams helping to set up mobile phone companies in South Africa, Colombia, Bulgaria, Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia and the US; entrepreneurs creating new approaches to global issues; business leaders making their companies 100 percent human; and collectives of inspirational leaders like the Elders, the B Team, The Carbon War Room and Ocean Unite.
"All of this has led me to a deep belief (and slight obsession) with the power of partnerships to inspire a better world and better lives. Plus Wonder emerged over the last ten years as a journey to find and interview 50+ long-lasting, life-changing partnerships of all types that have brought wonder into their own lives and the lives of so many others. They shared over 1,500 collective years of practical, honest wisdom."
Jess Search writes: "12 years ago, I got together with four other women to start a documentary foundation in London. We had worked in television but we knew the form was more powerful, both creatively and in terms of social impact, than TV had explored. We believe in the importance of independent storytellers and so we built a tiny institution to empower them.
"Today, as Doc Society, we work with incredibly determined filmmakers literally all over the world, helping them to make their best work and for their films to influence communities and policy makers. Maybe some of you have heard of, or been to, our Good Pitch events, or seen our filems, such as CITIZENFOUR and Virunga. Alongside that work, I am also the trustee of three other organisations whose work I believe in. They are Marie Stopes International, who deliver birth control and safe abortions in 40 countries; IPPR, which is a progressive think tank in the UK; and now Kickstarter in NY, which probably needs no introduction to this crowd."
Chris Waddell writes: "I challenge myself to follow my passion, especially when it scares me, and I fail a lot. Facing my fear, learning to find my best and communicating that process are as important as the end result. Articulating my story forces me to understand the journey, the ups, the downs, the false victories, the crushing defeats, the friends and foes more fully. Hopefully my struggles help others avoid my pitfalls. I’ve adopted the mantra, 'It’s not what happens to you. It’s what you do with what happens to you,' as a reminder in my times of weakness that there is always a way.
"As a Paralympic Athlete, I became the best monoskier in the world despite a significant disadvantage, putting the emphasis on skiing instead of disability. When I climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in a four-wheeled handcycle, I attempted to turn perception of disability upside down by being the first unassisted paraplegic to reach the summit -- changing the narrative from 'that’s too bad' to 'what do you do?'”