To mark the 25th anniversary of the U.N. Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing this month, Washington Post Live and The Rockefeller Foundation are bringing together prominent global leaders to discuss where sustainable progress has been made for women and girls - and where the most attention is needed to advance true equality.

One illuminating aspect of the coronavirus pandemic has been the noticeably successful response to the crisis mounted by women leaders across the world. The elevation of more women to leadership positions is crucial to promote a global community that is thriving, healthy and prosperous. Understanding how to accelerate that progress as we face unprecedented upheaval and the opportunity for realignment is fundamental.


Twenty-five years ago, the United Nations held the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing – U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet says we've made progress in women's rights in the decades since the conference, but that progress has been "slow and uneven." (Washington Post Live)
When asked if the international community's perception of the United States has changed, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said many countries were once fond of the U.S. but that perception is "not as good as before." "I think that what people want from the U.S. is the U.S. is more engaged with the world, who understands that nobody is going to solve the problems by themselves." (Washington Post Live)
When asked what needs to be done to help achieve more progress for women, former president of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said women have to get men on board. "I really believe we have to change our tactics in this. We must now convince men of the need for change because it's the men who will have to make sure that they support women to change these laws." (Washington Post Live)


U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet

On September 1, 2018 Michelle Bachelet assumed her functions as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights was established in 1993 and Ms. Bachelet is the seventh Commissioner.

Ms. Bachelet was elected President of Chile on two occasions (2006 – 2010 and 2014 – 2018). She was the first female president of Chile. She served as Health Minister (2000-2002) as well as Chile’s and Latin America’s first female Defense Minister (2002 – 2004).

During her presidential tenures, she promoted the rights of all but particularly those of the most vulnerable. Among her many achievements, education and tax reforms, as well as the creation of the National Institute for Human Rights and the Museum of Memory and Human Rights stand out, as do the establishment of the Ministry of Women and Gender Equality, the adoption of quotas to increase women’s political participation, and the approval of Civil Union Act legislation, granting rights to same sex couples and thus, advancing LGBT rights.

Former president of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Former President of Liberia and Africa’s first democratically elected female head of state; Nobel Peace Laureate; a leading promoter of peace, justice and democratic rule; a champion of health for all.

Internationally known as “Africa’s Iron Lady,” Nobel Peace Laureate Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is a leading promoter of freedom, peace, justice, women’s empowerment, and democratic rule. As Africa’s first democratically elected female head of state, she led Liberia through reconciliation and recovery following the nation’s decade-long civil war, as well as the Ebola crisis, winning international acclaim for achieving economic, social, and political change.

Madam Sirleaf was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 for her contribution to “securing peace in Liberia, to promoting economic and social development, and to strengthening the position of women.” She is a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom—the United States’ highest civilian award—for her personal courage and unwavering commitment to expanding freedom and improving the lives of Africans. Other honors include receiving the Grand Croix of the Légion d’Honneur, France’s highest public distinction; being named one of Forbes “100 Most Powerful Women in the World”; and being the first woman to receive the Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership.

In 2018, she founded the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Presidential Center for Women and Development (EJS Center), an institution dedicated to advancing and sustaining women’s political and social development on the African continent.

Madam Sirleaf has written widely on financial, development, and human rights issues, and in 2008 she published her critically acclaimed memoir, This Child Will Be Great.

She is the proud mother of four sons and grandmother of 12.

Content from Rockefeller

Rajiv J. Shah, president of The Rockefeller Foundation, and Pat Mitchell, editorial director for TEDWomen, join The Post for "The Future Reset: Accelerating Progress for Women & Girls." (The Washington Post)
Rajiv J. Shah, president of The Rockefeller Foundation, discussed the impact COVID-19 has on woman around the world. "For every six months we are in crisis, we know that there are 31 million additional acts of gender-based violence in homes and communities around the world. We know that women have lost 54 percent of the jobs that have been lost through this crisis so far, despite accounting for 39 percent of total global labor force participation." (Washington Post Live)

Rajiv J. Shah, President, The Rockefeller Foundation

Dr. Shah brings over twenty years of experience in business, government, and philanthropy to The Rockefeller Foundation, a global institution with an unparalleled track record of success carrying out its founding mission: to promote the well-being of humanity around the world. Over its century long history, the Rockefeller Foundation has embraced scientific frontiers to lift up vulnerable children and families.

Pat Mitchell, Editorial Director, TEDWomen

Pat Mitchell is the co-founder, curator and host of TEDWomen. Throughout her career as a journalist, Emmy-winning producer and ground breaking executive, she focused on elevating women’s stories and increasing their representation everywhere. She is chair of the Sundance Institute and the Women’s Media Center boards and a trustee of the VDAY movement, the Skoll Foundation and the Woodruff Arts Center. She is an advisor to Participant Media and served as a congressional appointment to The American Museum of Women’s History Advisory Council. She is the author of Becoming a Dangerous Woman: Embracing Risk to Change the World.