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'Women and Power' Conference Sponsored by Omega Institute and V-Day Takes Place September 9-11



Featured Speakers Include: Nobel Prize Winner Wangari Matthai, Academy Award Winning Actors Sally Field And Jane Fonda, Playwright/Activist Eve Ensler, Omega Cofounder/Author Elizabeth Lesser, Comedienne Kate Clinton, Author Anita Diamant, Author Carol Gilligan

“Vagina Warrior” Panel Features Activists From Kenya, Mexico, Pakistan, and U.S.

From September 9 –11, 2005, the Omega Institute and V-Day will hold the fourth annual “Women & Power” Conference at the Omega Retreat Center in Rhinebeck, NY-The Women and Power conference works to fuel the global women’s movement by bringing together innovative and courageous women to explore what happens when the words women and power are combined. The Women and Power conferences serve as unique gatherings that question assumptions about power, conflict, communication, women, men, and our lives together all over the world. In keynote speeches, workshops, networking sessions, music, movement, art, and ritual, participants consider what it means to be a powerful woman through the lens of leadership, activism, education, creativity, religion, spirituality, the arts, politics, family, business, social science, gender research, and the environment.

At this year’s convention, attendees will bring their attention to becoming risk-takers in a world that desperately needs the voices and actions of women who value vision more than fear; communication more than aggression; diversity more than domination; and real pleasure more than mindless consumption. The keynote speakers represent women who have taken great risks to advance these values and to make a difference in their communities and the world. From Poet Maya Angelou to Playwright/Activist Eve Ensler, from Academy award winning actor Jane Fonda to Sister Joan Chittister, and from Pumla Gobodo Madikizela to 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner/Founder of the Green Belt Movement Wangari Maathai, this year’s speakers have put their lives on the line through their words and their actions.

"The empowerment of women is key to the issues of our time,” says Elizabeth Lesser, co-founder of the Omega Institute. “Women are in the unique position to redefine the ways in which power is brokered and shared at all levels of society."

The “Vagina Warrior” panel, which closes the conference, will feature grassroots activists including: Agnes Pareyio from Narok, Kenya, Founder of the V-Day Safe House for Girls fleeing female genital mutilation; C.C. Carter of Chicago, Illinois, poet and winner of the Luna Activist Award; Carrie Rethlefsen of Minnesota, US who, as a high school student, successfully dealt with a free speech battle and national media attention after wearing an ‘I Heart My Vagina’ button to her high school; Esther Chavez of Juarez, Mexico, Founder of Casa Amiga, a Juarez based group that fights for the protection and safety of women who live in a town where over 400 women have disappeared in the last 10 years; and Nighat Rizvi of Islamabad, Pakistan, who produced “The Vagina Monologues” in Pakistan. This dialogue will bring together the voices of women who serve as living examples of what it means to bring the words “women” and “power” together, and how this combination facilitates change.

The Women and Power conference is dedicated to helping women heal and strengthen from within, uncover and speak from their own voices, and act from their deepest values. During the conference the following questions will be addressed: