MAKERS: Women Shaping Our World

5 years ago

Cross-posted from TEDxWomen

Good news this week — we've got something extraordinary to tell you about. MAKERS is a video initiative to share the stories of hundreds of women. When you go to the MAKERS website, you can watch interviews with the leaders, thinkers, reformers and pioneers who have shaped and continue to shape our world. We're particularly proud of TEDxWomen and TEDWomen speakers featured in this endeavor, including Courtney E. Martin, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, Rachel Simmons and Gloria Steinem. And on Monday we were thrilled to be present at The Paley Center, when Pat Mitchell, as ever TEDxWomen's hostess with the mostest, welcomed the women behind MAKERS to share about the origins of the project.

A joint-initiative between AOL and PBS, and presented by Simple, this dynamic digital platform is the brainchild of filmmaker Dyllan McGee. She wanted to tell the story of women in America over the last half-century. As she thought about how to do this, she became fascinated with the stories behind the scene, and how there wasn't just one story, one single narrative, to tell about women. Rather, there were many. So Dyllan embraced the challenge, and set out to document the collective narratives.

On Monday, several MAKERS were in the audience, and we were lucky enough to watch clips from four of the interviews with the women themselves present: Kathrine Switzer, first woman to enter the Boston marathon, Maria Pepe, Little League's first girl, Barbara Smith, groundbreaking publisher of women of color, and Marlo Thomas, actress and advocate in That Girl. What's really handy about MAKERS is that while there are full interviews available to watch, the interviews have also been divided into sections, so you can search by thematic content, such as good advice, leadership etc. Maureen Sullivan of AOL spoke of their desire to have MAKERS work “elegantly across all platforms,” and indeed it does.

We're very excited about what the future holds for MAKERS. There's a plan for story collection campaigns across the U.S. — and we hope eventually this will expand to be global — so that local MAKERS can be featured in their communities, on local websites and stations. A collaboration with the Girl Scouts is also underway, as the Girl Scouts have declared 2012, their 100th year anniversary, The Year of the Girl. As part of a Girl Scouts Initiative with MAKERS, twenty girl scouts had the opportunity to interview each other, and then edit their own videos, seeing the process through from beginning to end. And this is crucial, as Judy Schoenberg, a senior researcher with the Girl Scouts, let us in on a sobering statistic: only 21% of girls believe they have the key qualities to be a good leader. The hope is that this collaboration with MAKERS will help to increase that number.

MAKERS aims to be the largest collection of women's stories. They're well on their way — interviewing the likes of Madeleine Albright, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Phyllis Schlafly and Gloria Steinem. And just as importantly, women whose names you may not recognize, but those like Maria Pepe and Kathrine Switzer, who have undeniably altered the landscape, and made many things we now take for granted possible. Drawing on these stories, the women and men behind MAKERS are at work on a documentary to air on PBS in 2013, to delve further into looking at “a revolution that has unfolded in public and private, on grand stages like the Supreme Court and Congress, and in humbler ones like the boardroom and the bedroom.”

Any favorites among the MAKERS interviews? Who would you nominate as a MAKER?

Here are a few words from the MAKERS. Share your favorites!

Judy Blume: “And damn, I wanted girls to have a good time.”

Katie Couric: “I believe it's okay to use your charm, male or female.”

Eve Ensler: “I don't think I would have ever believed I could have or be entitled to my voice and my feelings and my rights had there not been a women's movement.”

Condoleezza Rice: “Nobody needs to tell me how to be black. I've been black all my life.”

Susan Love: “We owe it to the world to really support women and to fight the good fight for them, as well as for us.”

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