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Women’s Forum opens in northern France

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Sabine Clappaert
Freelance journalist

Deauville, a sleepy coastal town in northern France, has been woken up today with the arrival of 1,200 women who are attending the Women’s Forum.

They have come from as far afield as America, Brazil, Japan and South Africa to attend the three day conference – a medley of high heels and power suits, peacock-bright saris and stylishly veiled heads – to share their stories and debate solutions to the problems facing their societies.

In its seventh year, the Women’s Forum brings together some of the most inspirational female leaders – politicians, artists, business leaders, social entrepreneurs and activists – from all over the world to debate recent events and upheavals that have changed the world in recent months.

For instance, the economic crisis and its impact, the revolution in the Arab world, the energy constraint exacerbated by the Fukushima nuclear accident.

This year, the debates will look at a new type of capitalism, poverty and insecurity and the dynamics of change at work in companies.

The theme of this year’s meeting “What if? Challenge, imagination, commitment” is embodied by the women assembled on stage for the opening session.

These include Yamina Benguigui, a French-Algerian film maker who challenges the roles of Muslim women in contemporary society; Euzhan Palcy, an award-winning Caribbean director, the Japanese photographer Rinko Kawauchi and Kathryn Hall-Trujillo, a once homeless woman who now leads “The Birthing Project” connecting women around childbirth.

“The best way forward is through the stories we share with each other,” said moderator Patricia Mitchell, introducing the four women on stage to the packed auditorium.

“These stories offer a secular prayer, from generation to generation, to inspire us, comfort us and guide us so we can face the challenges and through imagination and creativity, work toward solutions.”

Over the coming three days, the Forum will offer women of all ages the opportunity to share their stories, network and learn from each other.

Numerous workshops, a training and knowledge centre and plenary sessions with experts on topics such as energy, business and economics, international politics, health and technology offer a program packed with opportunities to share and learn.

For the first time ever, the forum also offers those unable to attend the opportunity to follow all plenary sessions live on www.womens-forum.com.

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