A woman who has been the editor of Vanity Fair, The New Yorker and Newsweek magazines was in Des Moines Wednesday for the Iowa Women’s Leadership Conference. Tina Brown left her post as editor of “The Daily Beast” website in September with plans to expand her “Women in the World” initiative.
:This has been my crusade for the last five years, so I’m sort of ramping up now to take it more nationally and internationally as we go, so first stop Iowa, next stop Texas, third stop India,” Brown told Radio Iowa, laughing.
Nearly 70 percent of adult women in Iowa are working, far higher than the national average, but the state of Iowa ranks last for the number of women-owned businesses. According to Brown, most corporate business structures have traditionally been “inhospitable” to women.
“I think for women to actually start their own businesses is a much better way to go because you can design the business around the way you want to work, your hours, the way you want to run it, where actually you can also have family and a balance and can create a working culture which is far more sympathetic to women,” Brown said.
For the past four years the annual “Women in the World” summit in New York City has featured Hollywood stars, top business executives and grassroots organizers to highlight advances women and girls are making around the globe. Brown said it’s important for American women to hear the challenges women in other countries face.
“You know, you read about what’s happening in Syria, you read about what’s happening Egypt, but you don’t actually know what it’s like a woman living there, to be a person trying to get basic rights for yourself, for your family, for your education, for your choice of marriage, the choice to actually live any kind of life of economic independence,” Brown said, “and I think we sort of forget how difficult it is for women all over the world.”
Engaging men in the movement for women’s rights is part of Brown’s mission.
“It’s actually critical we involve men,” Brown said, “and the more we can, the better because without changing the minds of men, you’re not going to improve the lot of women.”
Last year’s “Women in the World” summit highlighted the work of three brothers in India who started a non-profit group to help women in India who’ve been raped or kidnapped into the sex trade. Brown, who turns 60 next month, now runs “Tina Brown Live Media” — a company that plans and hosts panel discussions and forums like yesterday’s Iowa Women’s Leadership Conference. She is also writing a memoir titled “Media Beast” about her career in publishing.