In this week’s Wednesday 5: Global women gather for TEDxWomen to share ideas on “the space between”; three global women philanthropists invest in their countries; Judy Wach on bliss after an affair; Sally Field takes on Mary Todd Lincoln and flirts with Oscar #3.


TEDxWomen on the Space Between

This weekend, TEDxWomen will convene in Washington, DC, with a focus on the “ideas of women and girls worldwide who challenge and redefine rules and roles ascribed to women and men, girls and boys.” Now in its third year, the organization has chosen for its 2012 theme “The Space Between”—a concept we at Women’s Voices for Change acknowledge every day. According to the organizers, led by Pat Mitchell, president and CEO of the Paley Center for Media, this year’s speakers will depict:

“How women are less likely to approach subjects from a black-or-white perspective as they see the gray area in between. There is a curiosity in wanting to explore what is in between extremes, to gain the big picture and find the areas where we need more understanding and perhaps compromise.  Women know that this is where life happens—the places in between.”

We love that TEDxWomen is real-women driven and not overrun with celebrities. Some of the notable 40-and-over speakers we are thrilled to see on the schedule include Sister Joan Chittister, a founding member of the Global Peace Initiative of Women; Kate Clinton, political humorist; and Dr. Elizabeth Kapu’uwailani Lindsey, the first Polynesian explorer and female fellow in the history of the National Geographic Society. You can watch the live stream of the conference on Friday, November 30, and Saturday, December 1, here.

Highlights from the global TEDxWomen 2011 talks.


Three Innovative Women Philanthropists Pour Funds into Unusual Projects

Speaking of women for change, you’ll be seeing more and more women philanthropists ranked with the likes of male philanthropists such as Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, since more and more studies on philanthropy report that “although the field of philanthropy has long been dominated by white men . . . women of all races are donating more to charity and are more involved in charitable work than their male counterparts.” Case in point: The Christian Science Monitor recently released its picks for “Eight Innovative Philanthropists Around the World,” and featured three global women among its ranks. Ingrid Zu Solms-Wildenfels of Germany is pouring funds into scholarships to get women into the lab, particularly in fields where “women are often invisible, like gene therapy research or music composition.” Alison Lawton of Canada has given $1 million to “start an international reporting program that would send grad students and faculty ‘into the field’ to cover stories that weren’t getting told elsewhere.” And Maria Alice Setubal of Brazil invests in literacy and has “helped organize a national language Olympics that exalts words and poetry over diving and sprinting.”


Life (Beautiful Life) After an Affair

If you’re tired of reading about the details of the David Petraeus affair and its treatment as breaking news, you’ve got plenty of company. Perhaps that’s why Judy Wach’s moving and thought-provoking submission for The New York Times‘s Modern Love series, “After the Affair,” was a breath of fresh air. If you’re expecting her story, in which she falls victim to that age-old dilemma of husband cheats and falls in love with younger woman, to end with her moving on and being the better off for it, well, don’t. She stays, and she and her marriage are the better for it, although the story does take on a few more surprising twists and turns. After her husband tells her of his affair, Wach responds not with anger, but with compassion and empathy:

THE big surprise was days after his admission, when I stumbled upon a part of myself I hadn’t known was there anymore, a part that was compassionate, loving and empathetic. Without planning to, I began trying to understand. It took a while, but as the days passed I really did begin to comprehend the whole picture.

What Wach touches on is exactly what the previously mentioned TEDxWomen theme is about—that life isn’t about black and white, or perhaps even the gray. It’s about how we navigate the spaces in between—those spaces where we have to carve out our own blueprint, not follow anyone else’s blueprint or society’s narrowed prescriptions, and instead come to realize that an affair may not be the end of the world.


Another Oscar-Worthy Performance for Sally Field

Sally Field, without a doubt, steals Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln in her role as the formidable Mrs. Mary Todd Lincoln. Her performance is wrenching, almost tormenting. It’s a performance that has also redirected the spotlight to the oft-misunderstood and controversial First Lady Lincoln. In fact, toward the end of the film, Mary tells Lincoln that if people want to understand him, they’ll have to understand her, too. And thanks to Sally Field’s performance in a role she fought for, we understand Mary Todd a little better. Michelle Dean writes in The New Yorker that it’s Mary Todd’s complexity that

“. . . funnily enough, makes Sally Field the perfect person to play Mary. Much of her nuanced performance implies what the script leaves out . . .  temperamentally, she is Mary’s rightful heir.” Read more at The New Yorker.


Sally Field on Mary Todd Lincoln

Listen to the 65-year-old Sally Field talk in detail about embodying the role of Mary Todd Lincoln and fighting ageism to get this role.



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