Who to see at the Women in the World Summit 2013

Newsweek and The Daily Beast’s Tina Brown shows off some barrier-breaking pioneers at the Women in the World Summit 2013.

Women of the World

Women of the World Photograph: Gregory Pace / BEImages

Tina Brown’s print magazine might be gone from our newsstands, but she’s still making news. To celebrate women who overcome obstacles like poverty, abuse and war, Brown imports activists, artists and survivors to Lincoln Center, then adds a dash of celebrity glamour. The stories told on the Women in the World stage focus on everything from genital mutilation to girdles, but they’re all about women that defy expectations and break barriers. Their experiences are recounted through a kind of live reportage—news professionals conducting interviews and helming discussions in front of an audience.

“It’s supposed to be living journalism,” says Kyle Gibson, the executive producer and managing editor of Women in the World. “In some ways it’s better than print journalism; it’s unedited,” she says. The event was launched in 2010 as “the live arm of Newsweek,” and Gibson considers the tales told here as an extension of the magazine—which no longer appears in print in the U.S.—and Brown’s The Daily Beast website. Several of this year’s guests, such as Hillary Clinton, will be participating in their fourth New York summit in 2013; here are some of the other notable women to see.

Thursday, Apr 4

Performance by Michaela DePrince

The woman: As a war orphan in Sierra Leone, DePrince endured extraordinarily difficult circumstances—not to mention being ostracized for a skin condition. After being adopted by a New Jersey family at age four, she made it to the American Ballet Theatre school and onto the pages of Teen Vogue.

The event: Now a principal dancer at Dance Theatre of Harlem, the 18-year-old DePrince will perform a piece she choreographed that interprets her life, though probably not the part when she appeared on Dancing with the Stars.

Ireland’s Firebrand and Peacemaker: A tribute to Inez McCormack

The woman: McCormack was a Northern Irish union organizer and social activist who entered politics in the 1960s. Among her achievements: helping undervalued workers, usually women, negotiate better pay.

The event: The actress who played McCormack in the 2010 play Seven—some up-and-comer named Meryl Streep—speaks about the agitator, who passed away in January.

South Africa’s New Power Player

The woman: At one time Dr. Mamphela Ramphele was best known as the partner of Steve Biko, the anti-apartheid activist martyred in 1977. Now she’s taking on South Africa’s dominant party, the African National Congress, by forming a challenging political body called Agang.

The event: Ramphele appears in conversation with Charlie Rose, CBS host and PBS interviewer extraordinaire. Why put a man onstage at a woman-focused conference? Gibson says it’s necessary: “You cannot elevate women around the world without elevating men’s interpretations of what they can do.”

Friday, Apr 5

Outcry in India

The woman: On a panel of five, the most striking voice is disguised by a pseudonym, Divya. She’s an Indian rape survivor who won’t mince words about the realities of sexual assault in her country.

The event: Cynthia McFadden of Nightline moderates a discussion on last December’s infamous bus gang rape in Delhi. Indian Supreme Court lawyer Ravi Kant, head of legal activist group Skakti Vahini, will trace the rise of the country’s current rape crisis—and why everyone should’ve seen it coming.

Oprah: Meet My Hero

The woman: Forced into an abusive marriage at age 11 in rural Zimbabwe, Dr. Tererai Trent had a slim chance of ending up the Ph.D.-holding human-rights activist she is today.

The event: Oprah Winfrey named the mother of five her “All-Time Favorite Guest” in 2011—take that, Tom Cruise. She’ll interview Trent about her life, including her work to educate women and girls in Africa.

Spanx Speaks: An interview with Sara Blakely

The woman: Billed by Forbes as the world’s youngest self-made female billionaire, the 42-year-old Blakely built a girdle empire without ever taking investments, selling shares or even advertising: just lifting and smoothing.

The event: As part of the summit’s spotlight on women innovators and entrepreneurs, the Spanx CEO traces her own rise and fiscal decisions.

Women in the World Summit: David H. Koch Theater (at Lincoln Center), 20 Lincoln Center Plaza at 63rd St (212-721-6500; thedailybeast.com/women-in-the-world.html). Apr 4 5:30–8:45pm, Apr 5 9am–7pm; $150.