Eight special lectures and five different breakout sessions are being prepared for the upcoming 2008 World Women’s Forum and renowned guest speakers from all parts of the world are coming to talk about different issues?media, politics and business?and their relations with women. Two of those speakers are Esther K. Chae and Yanar Mohammad.
Esther K. Chae, an award-winning Korean American actress and writer based in Los Angeles and New York will be participating in two panel discussions titled “Many Voices, one World: Women in the Media Industry” and “Creative Minds: A Talk among Young Female Artists.” Chae is an active member of the Asian Alumni Association and the Network of Korean American Leaders (NKAL), and she teaches at
During her two sessions, Chae says she will be discussing “what it means to be an Asian American or Korean American actress in the arts and entertainment industry.” Chae said, “I believe that there is a different sense of responsibility between entertainers and artists. Entertainers have the responsibility to take the commercial aspect into account while artists try to make an impact and change their audiences through their own artistic world view.”
Chae explained the impact artists make by saying, “With what I have seen and experienced in life, I have come up with my own perspective on art and on the world. Now, it is my job to present the view to other people. That way, I am acting as a leader who can help people understand the broader meaning of life,” she said.
According to Chae, artists can be regarded as forerunners of cultural development, who keep on pushing the boundaries with new perspectives. When everybody says that the world is flat, artists should be brave enough to suggest that the world is round, providing people with a new idea. With their creativity, they become agents of change, which is how artists their way of exercise leadership. As one of them, Chae says she also hopes to be a change agent. “There is history that I would like to leave behind. I want to be the one who makes people think bigger and persuade them not to live static lives,” said Chae.
Chae, as an actress and writer who is currently performing in the , said it was a challenge to work in
Chae offered Ewha Students a tip to become successful woman leaders. “Life is only one chance. So, think big, broaden your perspective, and be confident! There is no reason for you to live small just because you are a woman and a student.Find out and take advantage of every opportunity, like this forum. Remember to ‘suck an arrow out of the marrow.’ This is the way to succeed,” said Chae.
Another important speaker for the forum is Yanar Mohammed, the founder and leader of the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq (OWFI). She will be delivering two lectures titled, “Speaking up for the World: Women’s Role in Humanitarian Efforts” and “Moving the World: the Passion and Energy of NGOs.”
Mohammed’s lecture is divided into two parts: First she will give examples of post-war casualties, anti-woman legislation, and trafficking of women into sexual slavery. She will follow this with a description of the role women are taking to change their situation in .
“I will give especially focus on war-time activism in the new millennium, where media exposure is the strongest tool against the enemies of women. I will also elaborate on the dramatic rise of religious extremism which tries to abolish women's status and rights,” said Mohammed. She added that arming women with the knowledge to stand against extremism is an important role for women leaders like her.
To help students understand the topic better, Mohammed shared her past experiences working for women’s rights. “Since 2003, I have gone to most of the media venues, standing up for the values of secularism and women's right to equality, and calling for the end of the occupation of by US troops. In spite of threats from terrorist groups and efforts toward character assassination by religious groups and officials, I continue to work sheltering women, saving them from trafficking, and training young women for human rights activism in my NGO,” said Mohammed.
Through such experiences, Mohammed believes that she can be a case study of women's extraordinary work in conflict zones, a case showing that one woman can mobilize others into action, even in a society where rights are deteriorating. She says such a role may become the inspiration for a generation of females to give their lifetime efforts towards improving women's status in their countries and around the world.
“I will take the opportunity to invite every woman to support a media outlet which empowers Iraqi and Middle Eastern women against their enemies; thus creating a project which motivates global female solidarity against global terrorists. We think that the best way of beating religious fundamentalism is through social debate about women's rights. If we bring society to our side, the fundamentalists will not have the ground or popularity to keep up the fight,” said Mohammed.
For female students, Mohammed stresses, “Never take your freedoms for granted. Always keep up the struggle for full equality. It takes activism, political struggle, media work and above all, a strong passion to see all women strong and supported. Always be well-armed to participate in women's struggle towards a better world.”