Women & Power Year by Year | Omega

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Women & Power Year by Year

We began with a simple question: What happens when you put the words “women” and “power” together? Since our first conference in 2002, hundreds of speakers from a wide variety of disciplines have answered that question with courage, innovation, wit, and wisdom. Thousands of attendees have taken what inspired them at the conference back to their jobs, families, communities, and countries, and moved the world a little closer to inclusion, justice, and peace. The common denominator linking all of our speakers and attendees is the desire to Do Power Differently® by changing the very nature of power and leadership.

Held biennially, the Women & Power Conference provides attendees the opportunity to feel connected to a growing global community. Over the years, it has become an international touchstone, bringing together women leaders, artists, authors, and visionaries to share ideas and insights. Through keynote presentations, conversations, workshops, and entertainment, the conference offers a unique synthesis of listening, sharing, reinforcement, and inspiration.

What follows is a brief overview of each of the Women & Power conferences offered by Omega since its inception. To watch video of the conferences please visit our Video Library. 

Living & Leading from the Inside Out May 24–27, 2002

Omega’s inaugural Women & Power conference brought together celebrated leaders in their fields, including Anita Hill, Eileen Fisher, Eve Ensler, and Iyanla Vanzant. This gathering, hailed as a chance for women to come together as “women of power", was for women balancing their personal, family, and professional lives who want to be leaders without sacrificing their deeper values, and who have a vision of the kind of power that will make the world a better place to live.

Bringing the World into Balance May 29–June 1, 2003

The success of the first Women & Power conference encouraged Omega to offer a second conference, and make it an annual event. This conference explored how women were redefining power at home, in relationships, at work, and in the world, featuring founding mothers of the women’s movement as well as contemporary trailblazers, such as Jane Fonda, Alice Walker, Gloria Steinem, and Marion Woodman. Eve Ensler, V-Day cofounder, returned to conduct on-stage interviews with the keynote speakers.

Our Time to Lead September 10–13, 2004

Omega brought the third Women & Power conference to New York City, where nearly 2,000 people gathered. Coproduced by V-Day, the conference featured returning speakers Jane Fonda, Gloria Steinem, Iyanla Vanzant, Marion Woodman, and Eve Ensler as well as new speakers Susan Sarandon, Sarah Jones, Debra Winger, Julia Stiles, Azar Nafisi, and Sister Joan Chittister—all of whom encouraged women to lead from their core values and deepest wisdom and to strengthen their joyful sense of self.

Meeting in the Field September 9–11, 2005

This year the gathering returned to Rhinebeck, New York, as the the sole workshop on Omega’s campus. The growing number of presenters included Maya Angelou, Sally Field, Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, and Wangari Maathai. The conference focused on how women can redefine power in all of its contexts by building understanding across dividing lines and creating sheltered spaces in which adversaries can develop relationships that are stronger than their differences. Polarizing issues such as abortion, same-sex marriage, and the environment were explored to generate fresh approaches to mutual concerns.

Enlightened Power October 13–15, 2006

As women gain increasing power and authority in all walks of life, can women’s leadership create meaningful change in the world? The 2006 conference explored this question through keynote talks and workshops offered by Marianne Williamson, Marcia Ann Gillespie, Loung Ung, Sharon Salzberg, Governor Ann Richards, and Yolanda King among others. Presenters examined how to balance women’s inner spiritual work with the desire to make an engaged contribution to the world and how women can bring their voices into all spheres of life.

Women, Power & Peace September 14–16, 2007

Five women Nobel Peace Prize winners—Shirin Ebadi (2003), Jody Williams (1997), Rigoberta Menchú Tum (1992), Betty Williams (1997), and via video, Aung San Suu Kyi (1991)—came together to explore the connection between women and peace. Jane Fonda, Eve Ensler, Sally Field, and Kerry Washington also presented their thoughts. Offered in collaboration with V-Day, the weekend featured an acoustic concert with Natalie Merchant and a dramatic reading of Ensler’s Necessary Targets, a groundbreaking play about women, war, and the enduring resilience of the human spirit.

Women & Courage September 12–14, 2008

Seeking to redefine the definition of what it means to be brave and daring human beings, this conference celebrated the wisdom of “mamisma,” a brand of courage that women have honed for ages. Notable presenters included Isabel Allende, Queen Afua, Tara Brach, Brené Brown, and Christiane Northrup, who offered their insights on how women are redefining courage all over the world.

Connecting Across the Generations September 11–13, 2009

Inspiration across generations. brought together trailblazing speakers and workshop leaders included Gloria Steinem, Helen Thomas, Isabel Allende, Courtney E. Martin, Jensine Larsen, Liza Donnelly, and Angela Hucles. Lessons learned in the past generations were brought forward into realities women face today to define an emerging women’s movement that balances inner wisdom and outer action. One highlight of the gathering was a cross-generational dialogue with conference participants to discuss their experience of issues and opportunities facing women.

Our Time to Lead September 24–26, 2010

Having grown into one of the most celebrated women’s gatherings in the world, this year's conference revisited and deepened the theme, “Our Time to Lead,” first offered in 2004. Renowned women from business, the arts, nonprofit organizations, the media, and spirituality including Gail CollinsAni DiFrancoJennifer BuffettSharon SalzbergPat Mitchell, and Mae Jemison spoke about how to continue bringing hope, healing, and change to women’s lives and to the world around them. 

Leading From the Inside Out July 8–10, 2011

This year was the inaugural launch of the Women & Power Retreat. Its intention was to focus internally on personal development, providing skills that helped women revive and express their values and voices. Returning to the theme of the first Women & Power Conference in 2002, the gathering offered women a chance to slow down, go within, and learn to access their inner strength and full aliveness. Keynote speakers included Martha BeckSapphire, Iyeoka Ivie Okoawo, and Mallika Dutt.

What’s Possible September 21–23, 2012

Heralding the official launch of the Omega Women’s Leadership Center, celebrated presenters from past conferences returned, and several new faces appeared, to share their wisdom on how women can open new paths and possibilities—for everybody. Featured speakers—and new OWLC Advisory Council members—included Isabel Allende, Sally Field, Eve Ensler, Jennifer Buffett, Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, Sister Joan Chittister, Ann Veneman, Majora Carter, Ubaka Hill, Pat Mitchell, Edit Schlaffer, Loung Ung, and Hibaaq Osman. Cecile Richards, Halla Tomasdottir, and Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner also shared their experience and inspiration. 

Find Your Own Strength September 20–22, 2013

In the second biennial Women & Power Retreat women gathered to look within and ask new questions about power, courage, and leadership while reflecting on their personal definition of what it means to be strong. The gathering included Brené Brown, Joan Halifax Roshi, Ai-jen Poo, Heidi Hartmann, Leslie Salmon Jones, and Sharon Salzberg. Keynote talks, movement, meditation, and music offered everyone opportunities to delve into their own work and create connections with each other.

Women & Men: The Next Conversation September 19–21, 2014

While men have long been invited to attend the Women & Power conferences, this year for the first time they were invited as featured keynote speakers and workshop presenters. The conference offered men and women a wide-open exploration of how to live, love, and work together as whole human beings. Authors, athletes, business leaders, artists, and activists demonstrated how they are moving humanity forward and breaking out of boxes that have constrained women and men for centuries. Featured speakers included Diana Nyad, India.Arie, Esther Armah, Stephanie Coontz, Shabana Basij-RasikhKevin Rudd, Michael Kimmel, Vinny Ferraro, Carlos Andrés Gómez, and Tony Porter

Being Bold September 18-20, 2015

There are other ways of being brave. This year was a collective call to change our definition of what it means to be daring, and served as a retreat for women who are ready to break new ground and heed the call for personal and collective boldness. Presenters included Elizabeth Gilbert, Bonnie St. John, Wendy Davis, angel Kyodo williams, Nadia Al-Sakkaf, Maria Teresa Kumar, Shirley Velasquez, and KJ Denhert. In addition to the keynote talks, movement, meditation, creative expression and music offered everyone opportunities to restore, reflect, and rejuvenate individually and together.