This past Wednesday I was a speaker at TEDxWomen. The experience was amazing, humbling and gratifying to say the least. The truth is I was pretty nervous about speaking among this truly accomplished group of people. I knew it was really a special chance to share my passion and speak about a topic which is so important but also difficult. My section was Relationships, and I spoke about the relationship between population growth and resource scarcity, but how empowering women is the first step to solving this global crisis. Each day we are handed new challenges, some small, some large, but it is how we address these that define who we are and how we live our lives. When I walked off stage, I knew I had conquered my fear and that in so doing, I continued to spread a message that is key to the success of future generations.
The passion was palpable among the other speakers and attendees there. I was really inspired by so many of the stories I heard. Shamila Kohestani and Tan Le especially touched me with their stories of courage and hardship. I also loved hearing Jennifer Newsom speak about how our kids are being adversely effected by the 10 and a half hours a day they spend in front of some kind of screen – whether it’s TV, video games, iPhone etc. I have three children and am concerned about this issue on a near daily basis. It has influenced how they feel about how they look and whether they think they are pretty enough. The kids have become brand loyal to toxic products and they are compelled to spend more time in front of the screen instead of doing other productive things. In addition, it is hard to monitor who they are interacting with and what programming they are watching.
Shree Bose, Naomi Shah and Lauren Hodge, three young girls who won their respective categories in the Google Science Fair, were huge hits! I especially identified with Naomi Shah’s presentation about asthma. This was right up my alley because she spoke about the high number of asthmatics and how this is caused by indoor VOC’s (volatile organic
compounds). VOC’s and the resulting asthma are preventable if we would be more careful about indoor air quality in our schools, homes and workplace. Through my work with Mothers & Others for Clean Air, we have been addressing this very issue through messaging with our Green and Healthy Home and Work program. Lauren Hodge’s presentation about grilled chicken was fascinating. Did you know there are chemical changes when you grill meat, and the more you blacken it, the more the carcinogens? But a marinade of lemon juice, salt water or brown sugar water could reduce the carcinogens up to 90 percent. Very helpful information!
I loved Ivy Navarrete and Shayna Welcher who told their scary and moving stories about growing up in gangs with parents that were drug addicts and dealers, and their own journeys of drug/alcohol abuse and crime to support their habits which landed each of them in prison. Now, they are clean and have jobs with LA – based nonprofit, Homeboy Industries, started by a priest which teaches the girls about food service.
Last but not least, I spoke before the surprise guest Barbra Streisand! She is amazing and her commitment to woman’s health is admirable. She is using her celebrity voice to get the word out about women and heart health. I learned it kills way more women than breast cancer each year. It is a sleeper disease that many women do not know much about because studies have been so focused on men’s heart health and women’s heart disease symptoms are harder to detect.
Seriously, what a day! My mind and heart are full with the passion, conviction and wisdom of all I heard that day. I received so much support from my friends and family – thank you so much, I am deeply touched. A special congratulations to Jane Fonda for giving a moving speech and Pat Mitchell for organizing this great event, you both did fantastic! I encourage all of you to watch the presentations online, as I know you will all be as moved as I was.