Last week I was in New Orleans for the MOM 2.0 Conference, an event attended by 450 social media influencers—a.k.a. Bloggers—from around the country. The group convenes annually to discuss ways to create smarter web-based marketing. I accepted an invitation to do the keynote address, along with filmmaker and philanthropist Abigail Disney.
Within minutes of connecting with the planners of MOM 2.0 it was clear that this is a dynamic group. The conference organizer teased that many in the group were probably the editors of their High School year books and I felt right at home among this group of activist writers — who like to ask questions and look for answers. Abigail and I focused our conversation on what inspires women to create change in their lives and in their communities. Abigail shared stories that speak to her longtime passion for women’s issues and peace-building, all of which culminated in the making of her film Pray the Devil Back to Hell.
Her current project is the mini-series Women, War & Peace, which is coming to PBS this fall. It documents the unreported role of women in the peace process in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Colombia, and Liberia. I introduced the video for a new public media initiative ITVS is launching this May that will bring together a series of documentaries on Independent Lens, Frontline, NewsHour, and other PBS series that look at issues of importance to women and girls in the U.S. and around the world including themes of leadership, education, economic development, violence, and trafficking prevention.
Abigail and I talked about what it is that drives us to want to make change. How do we stay engaged when the work takes us to dark and difficult places? And perhaps most challenging, how can one person make a difference? The video from both of our documentary series certainly offered some tough images of women displaced by war but it’s important to also share the many stories of success, of positive change that women have implemented in countries around the world.
It was an interesting conversation to share with the MOM 2.0 audience, women, and some men who look at parenting as a cornerstone for change. What seems clear for all of us is that the key to understanding others and ourselves comes from storytelling. The act of sharing our stories and hearing other women share theirs is what creates the will to care about the lives of people we’ve never met. With Women, War & Peace and ITVS’ new public media initiative, we want to use the power of media to amplify the voices of women and girls acting as leaders. We want to expand understanding of the global movement for gender equity. And we want to engage a network of citizens and organizations working together through creative opportunities to act locally and reach out globally. From what I witnessed last week in New Orleans, that’s what MOM 2.0 is all about.
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