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Saint Mary’s students attend women’s conference

| Sunday, April 6, 2014

When The Daily Beast’s fifth annual “Women in the World” summit kicked off at the Lincoln Center in New York last Thursday, two Saint Mary’s students were in attendance.
Juniors Paige DeRouin and Kaitlyn Rabach (Editor’s Note: Rabach served as the former Saint Mary’s Editor for The Observer) witnessed live journalistic storytelling from global men and women on courage, resilience and the need for positive change, Rabach said.
“Tina Brown, former editor-in-chief of The Daily Beast, has really been pushing this newfound style of journalism forward,” Rabach said. “It is focused on storytelling and personal experiences. This three-day summit featured women and men from all generations and walks of life.
“All the speakers really told a story. The summit gave them a medium to share their voice.”
DeRouin and Rabach currently participate in American University’s Washington Semester Program, an exchange where students study and intern in the nation’s capital..Both are working as interns at iLive2Lead, a non-profit organization providing high-level leadership skills to young women from around the world, DeRouin said. Their internship brought them to New York for the conference, she said.
“We could not have picked an better internship while studying in D.C.,” DeRouin said. “iLive2Lead is run by three amazing women, and the organization’s mission is to empower young women all over the world.
“They have hosted training summits in nations all over the globe and have served women from over 60 countries. Our bosses understand the importance of mentoring, and have worked to mentor Kaitlyn and I throughout our time at the organization. This push for mentorship is what led us to New York. They wanted us to hear these stories from leaders all over the world.”
While at the conference, Rabach said she heard discussions on topics related to human rights issues, especially abuses related to women. Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton and the current managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Christine Lagarde were two of the conference’s keynote speakers.
“Seeing Secretary Clinton and Madame Lagarde speak was beyond incredible,” Rabach said. “I grew up with these women as my role models. It is women like Hillary Clinton and Christine Lagarde that have shaped my views on feminism and social justice.
“They are two of the most influential women in the world and I cannot wait to see what the future brings for them. Both are thinking about their next steps right now – Clinton is contemplating a presidential run in the United States, and Lagarde is doing the same for her home country of France.”
While at the conference, Rabach said she had the opportunity to personally interview Lagarde and Ambassador Catherine Russell of the Office of Global Women’s Issues in the State Department. Both DeRouin and Rabach were asked to blog about the conference for The Huffington Post and The Daily Beast, DeRouin said.
“Not only was I able to hear some of my role models on stage, but I was actually given the opportunity to go backstage and ask them some questions of my own,” Rabach said. “Both Madame Lagarde and Ambassador Russell have taught me so much about what it means to be a woman, especially in today’s society, and I was able to shake their hands, interview them and really see how great of women they are even behind the scenes.”
Another focal point of the conference was hearing stories from Syrian refugees and aid workers, DeRouin said.
“In the mainstream media, Syria is often forgotten about,” DeRouin said. “The human rights abuses in Syria were brought up throughout the entire conference, and speakers were calling the conflict the biggest humanitarian failure since Rwanda. … In cases of crisis, women and children are affected the most. I really felt a call to action after the conference.”
Both women said this experience was a great addition to their four years at Saint Mary’s.
“It was great to see women leaders from all over the world talk about relevant issues,” DeRouin said. “The conversations we were able to hear were directly related to what we have been talking about at Saint Mary’s and in D.C. Plus, Saint Mary’s, iLive2Lead and “Women in the World” are all about empowering women and really forming a sisterhood that spans the globe.”
Rabach said the conference encouraged her to be a positive force against some of society’s current evils.
“Empowering women is not only a moral and philosophical issue, but it is actually an economic issue,” Rabach said. “Madame Lagarde said, ‘empowering women is a no-brainer” and it really is. … At the end of the conference, Tina Brown encouraged us to be ‘change makers’, and I can’t wait to be a change maker for individuals, especially women and girls, all over the globe.”

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About Kelly Konya

Kelly Konya is an English major bred on Catcher in the Rye and Roman cornettos.

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