By Mia MacDonald
A global conference. Anticipation. The prospect of exhilaration. Enervation, too: all those preparations—organizing clothes for packing, making sure all the email is answered, readying a plan for how household tasks get completed while I’m away. It’s all of that, but expectation wins out. What will I learn? What might I experience? What extraordinary women will I meet for the first time, or meet again, sometimes at a distance of many years? What will be the priorities of younger leaders, whose voices haven’t been heard as much as they should have? What will older leaders, the veterans of multiple struggles—many ongoing, many bracingly difficult even today—share?
Nearly fifteen years ago, all those years younger, I journeyed to Beijing, for the United Nations’ fourth global conference on women. In many ways, what emerged from Beijing was a single voice, full of mettle and determination. And there were multiple voices, too: passionate, focused, remorseful, soft, loud, hopeful and even wary. It’s these voices I’ve sought to continue hearing, learning from and drawing on to create my own voice. It’s these voices I’m looking forward to hearing in Antigua. It’s going to be a noisy, polyglot, jangled, jubilant, resonant few days….