TEDxLausanneWomen – Thoughts

We attended the 3rd edition of TEDxLausanneWomen on December 5th at the Swisstech Convention Center. With the theme SHOWING UP, the event gathered almost 1’000 attendees to enjoy the stories from 8 guests.

Mélanie Freymond, master of ceremony, opened the event reminding the public that TEDx events are made to inspire people, inspire men and women, because if this event is labelled Women it does not speak of women’s matters but rather of gender equality and we are all concerned. In 2018, Ethopia and Serbia saw their first woman president, in Saudi Arabia women can drive legally, in Switzerland we have now 3 Federal Council seats held by women, a first. Worldwide, we have about 20% of women in governments.

1st speaker : Kirstine Stewart

How many people must tell you that you are good before you think you are?
She started her speech by revealing that 5 minutes before her stage entrance, she was really stressed. « Am I supposed to be here? What do I have to say? » We listen to that voice a little too much. You are exactly where you’re supposed to be. She was the first woman at her job, the first under 40 years old at her job. Her job was to run a TV network in the Fall season (which is harder as this represents the launch of the new shows). Her network was CBC and had low ratings. She considered this positively, as only having the possibility to improve them. As part of the job, she organized a big event to announce the new shows, she was proud of the work of her team and of her presentation. The day after, the reviews only talked about her high heels, her dress: not the work done. She felt like she failed her team and doubted if she was at her place. However while working in the building, someone stopped her to say « We’re glad that you’re here, you talk and act like us. Someday, I could be you ». She realized she was exactly where she was supposed to be. Choose to listen to positive people.

Think about the faith other people have in you: it makes it way easier.

2nd speaker : Lynzy Lab

Use your shaky voice : Speaking louder than your fear
She began the talk with her magical song : listen here

I can’t walk to my car at night alone
I can’t use public transportation after 7pm
It sure is a scary time for boys

She wrote this song in a couple hours, within 3 days it reached 60 million views and reporters and fans were constantly calling her. She was invited to perform on the Jimmy Kimmel Show and had to restart her song because of stress. She is a professional dancer, the goal was to train her body to speak for her so that she does not have to talk.
The buzz was helped by the timing, with a huge rape trial happening in the US and her voice made a call for action just before the midterm elections. It was also helped by her ability to shut the inside doubt voice to share her song even with the fears of disagreements.
She teaches in the summers for the non-profit Performing Art Project. One of her missions is to teach respect of any form of art: art is often a deep expression of self, so criticism is often taken personnally. She distinguishes 2 kind of criticisms: constructive and projective. The constructive criticism helps to get a broader perspective, however the projective criticism is an emotional response (most of the comments on social media for example). The projective criticism only benefits the giver, it is not the artist’s business.
About her fear of the unknown, she said that bravery does not replace fear but rather cohabits with it. We have to see, acknowledge and recognize our fears and do it anyway.

Speak your mind – even if your voice shakes. Maggie Kuhn

3rd speaker : Sherin Khankan

Female Imam and leader of the Mariam Mosque in Denmark

You can take a notorious title, and give it a different meaning by changing the narrative.

Her dad is a refugee from Syria and raised her and her sibling with the idea that « The perfect man is a woman ». Everything starts with family, as it is our first community. This can be a blessing or a curse as we don’t choose our family. Most of the time it is in between. Her mother was Christian from Finland. She was raised in a great mix of cultures and in great happiness. She always believed that every one gets his or her share of happiness and sorrow. That’s what happened to her when she became of victim psychological violence. This violence is hidden but leaves eternal scars inside. She did not find any help from Googling and was too ashamed to speak to her friends or family. She found help in a speech group of women living the same situation. She decided to solve this problem at a macro-level and create a support group against religious control. When creating the Mariam Mosque, she created a new Islamic Wedding Contract allowing mixed religious marriages, the right to divorce, no violence and more. She also had to define her legitimacy as based on her knowledge of Islam and that the most important thing for an Imam is to serve the community. Today, her daughter when ask to define the term Imam, answers « a woman who is doing great things ».

4th speaker: Louise Winter & Anna Lyons

What it really means to show up at the end of life
Life ends. We are all going to die: confront this reality.
Society does not provide appropriate vocabulary about death. We should stop using euphemisms. Granddad is not in the clouds with David Bowie. People survived because their treatment worked, not because they fought harder. Say it as it is: upfront, honest but gentle.
Everyone need to express their grief as we need. We don’t have words to help a parent who lost their child.

Life is finite

Show up for people who are sick or for people greiving, even after the funeral. Show up for the people you love.
Seize the moment, you might never have it again.

5th speaker: Nathalie Barzilay

Trust on the block, the crypto revolution
In 2008, the Blockchain appeared.

Blockchain : distributed, transparent, autonomous system for exchanging value

In a more intuitive way, compare it with an Excel spreadsheet. Imagine you share this spreadsheet with all your colleagues and you always have access to live updated data. One line is one block. You can only add new lines in the end and never change the past data. You have therefore transparent and not corrupted data.
We find every day new applications for blockchain, being in smart contracts, digital currencies, securities or record keeping. You can trust any human in the network. Think about your 10 francs bank note, you trust the central bank saying that this piece of paper is worth 10 francs. With cryptocurrencies, you have a huge network of users checking the value, you don’t have to trust one instance.
We don’t really know who is Satoshi Nakamoto, creator of Bitcoin. To her, with this huge desire of helping one another, Satoshi is an incrediable, amazing woman.

6th speaker: Jennah Kriebel

Where serendipity meets self-assembly
Serendipity is this concept of magical or unexpected discovery. It represents this space of wonderful beauty when something is happening unexpectedly and leads to great things. We know for a fact that the water fountains or coffee machines foster serendipity by bringing together people in a different way. We all know examples of events happening after a series of small connections from previous and very diverse other events. One person expressing herself in one context in one part of the world can trigger life changing thoughts in someone else around the globe.

By expressing one voice, we create a frame, a movement, for others to express theirs. It triggers beautiful moments without explicit link.

7th speaker: Anna Whitehouse & Matt Farquharson

How to be a happy chicken
The speech here was about the utopia of the chicken, this chicken is happy and can always meet its deadlines, versus the hell of chickens, this battery farming stress, anxiety and picking the other colleagues.
This idea came up when they asked their bosses for a 15 minutes flexible window to meet the nursery schedule. It was denied.

Felt like I was pushed out of the workforce for having pushed out a kid.

They created MotherPukka to encourage people to make this request for flexible schedule and employers to look at the benefits it represents. In England, employees work on average 38 days per year overtime and unpaid. The Chicken Coop Theory is that happiness grows with the control one has over his·her job. If it is too low, you are in the battery situation. If it is higher, you are in the free range where you know that you can leave a little bit earlier if necessary, for example to get this doctor appointment.
It affects everyone, but especially women, and even more after they have their first kid : lifetime earnings for women decrease by 4% per children. Flexible work time makes a big difference for employees and employers, as they stay longer. In the UK, stress issues cost 10 billion pounds a year. Flexible work time is not a bonus or nice-to-have thing but fundamental shift in our way of working, and will improve productivity.

Judge people on what they are doing not where they’re sitting.

You can check their campaign here : flexappeal

8th speaker: Honey Thaljieh

Against all odds: Empowering women to lead the change in football
She started playing football in Palestine, at 7 years old, bare foot, behind her parents’ back, only with boys and a ball made of old newspapers. It became her passion and FIFA a dream. Today she’s working there. It changed her life, to her, sport gives great power, opens doors but also requires a lot of work, especially as a woman. Here are her 5 lessons:

  1. It has to be a comprehensive effort
    She created the first female football team of Palestine with 5 other women. Their recognition came from the University, then the Palestine Football Association and finally FIFA. Today, hundreds of women play football in a tenth of clubs.

Women cannot fight the fight alone

  1. Sexim and patriachy still exist everywhere
    Without giving real authority and respect to women, it can be counter productive. Women are socialized around men : « don’t smile too much, it does not look professional ». Standards in sport are made and enforced by men. If a woman has a strong opinion she is seen as aggressive, a man would be seen as a leader. We should not need to prove ourselves all the time.
  2. We need diversity and representation
    As a young girl she had no female athlete looking like her, she had trouble to picture herself as champion or a leader.
  3. Define your own identity
    She faced discriminations and challenges but always refused to let her identity block her. She is an Arab young woman and can lead important projects in Europe.

None of her labels could define her future

  1. Women need to empower women
    Each woman in a high-ranking position is important and should advocate for other women, to break the barriers and restrictions. This is not a power struggle. We need actions, not only slogans on social media, but real effort to push back patriarchy and show respect for women experts in their domain.

Break the barrier: « If I did it, we can all do it together at a world level »

Let us strive for a future where there are no woman leaders, JUST LEADERS.


This event was closed with the band The SugaZz performing Who run the world from Beyonce, thanking the team and most of all, this quote:

Be the change you want to see in the world





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