We can’t imagine a better way to kick off an important event like the 2019 Women in the World Summit than to make sure the patron saint of feeling empowered, Oprah Winfrey, is there to make it happen. On Wednesday evening, Winfrey delivered the keynote speech for the summit’s 10th anniversary in New York City. Winfrey’s message was (as per usual) uplifting and full of inspiring ideas about how women can be better feminists and activists in their own communities. Winfrey was joined by fellow celebs and activists like Brie Larson and Ashley Judd, but it was her keynote that already stands out as the highlight of the event.
Per The Hollywood Reporter, Winfrey’s Women in the World Summit keynote took aim at the current political climate and, without naming President Donald Trump, offered a strong indictment of his past actions and their potentially negative effects on society.
“We live in a country that has somehow confused cruel with funny, serious with intelligent, attitude with belief, personal freedom with stockpiling assault weapons, and what is moral with what is legal,” Winfrey told the audience, going on to offer a call to action. “So it is time for women in the world to set the agenda. It’s time for women to redefine the message. We need to make that message a positive one. Let’s make it ambitious, and inclusive, and brimming with hope.”
Winfrey went on to address the question posed by the event’s organizer, renowned journalist and editor Tina Brown: “Can women change the world?”
For Winfrey, the answer is easy to land on because of course, it’s “yes,” and she goes on to explain what women can do after rocking the boat and taking the first steps towards making a change.
“And then when the smoke clears and all the naysayers who said it couldn’t be done settle down, we need to reinvent the game,” she told the crowd. “I don’t need to [tell] any of you that the game was not built on an even playing field. We prove ourselves, again and again and again, and we maintain a healthy skepticism, but we refuse to become cynical.”
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In her keynote speech on the opening night of the 10th annual #WITW summit last night, @oprah gave a shout-out to ‘force of nature’ @staceyabrams and a trademark fist-pump to @lightfootforchi, but her greatest praise was reserved for the unvarnished humanity of the New Zealand prime minister. Today’s agenda is packed full of trail-blazing women. You can tune into our livestream via the link in bio 💥
Winfrey went on to remark on the innate strength and resilience of women in the face of unimaginable hardship and how it is an advantage that the interests of women across the nation are represented in the 42 congresswomen who recently began their congressional terms.
“If I were a gambler, I sure would bet that those 42 new congresswomen have experience with issues that few congressmen have ever had to face. Let’s see, let’s start with there’s the profound and abiding lack of equitable pay; ditto the lack of affordable childcare,” Winfrey noted. “There is the distinct possibility of being sexually assaulted in college or raped on a date. There are the bosses who believe that the female anatomy is theirs for the grabbing. There’s the shocking abuse of women serving in our military. We could go on, and on, and be here all night. But if this sort nonchalant brutality has wounded our spirit in any way, I’m here tonight to say that it has also galvanized our determination to live with greater depth, with greater tenacity and backbone.”
Winfrey ended on an inspiring note we can all take to heart: “We need to be the truth; we have to be the respect; we have to be the fierceness, the love we want to see. And when we do that, mark my words, a change is already coming.”