Oprah Winfrey used her keynote speech at the 10th annual Women in the World conference to praise the leadership of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in the wake of the Christchurch massacre.
Describing how Ardern “projected peace and goodness” in the aftermath of the terror attack on two mosques and wore a hijab while attending memorials for the 50 victims, Winfrey said of Ardern:
“I have never seen such leadership. A woman who has the courage of her convictions and has set a global standard in leadership with her response.”
Pointing out how Ardern’s hijab-clad image was projected onto Dubai’s Burj Khalif with the word “peace,” Winfrey said it proved Ardern’s strategy to unite, not divide, in the wake of the tragedy had worked.
“We saw that the ‘other’ didn’t seem that much different from us.”
New Zealand today fell silent in honour of the mosque attacks' martyrs. Thank you PM @jacindaardern and New Zealand for your sincere empathy and support that has won the respect of 1.5 billion Muslims after the terrorist attack that shook the Muslim community around the world. pic.twitter.com/9LDvH0ybhD
— HH Sheikh Mohammed (@HHShkMohd) March 22, 2019
Winfrey received several standing ovations as she spoke to a room packed with hundreds of women at New York’s Lincoln Center ahead of two days of panels and talks.
The talk show host’s words come as Ardern was commended by international figure-heads and media for getting a ban on most semiautomatic weapons through parliament in just 26 days. “The contrasts with the United States is both inescapable and striking,” reported The Washington Post.
“I can recall vividly the moment I knew that we would need to be here, doing what we are doing right now,” Ardern said Wednesday in Parliament.
Offering some brief advice on how women can be successful and make change in the world, Winfrey said:
“My primary offering is this: It is your job to make your self whole. Not perfect, but whole. Fill yourself until your cup runneth over, so that you are never grasping … Live your life assured in your worthiness and your right to be here.”
She touched on the 42 new women sworn into the US Congress this year, “a diverse new generation of congresswomen forged by fire,” celebrating the diversity they will bring to US politics.
“They have experience with issues few congressmen have ever had to face.”
Addressing a key focus of the conference, ‘can women save the world?’ she had this to say:
“Can women save the world? I say we have been doing that for so many years. We gotta reinvent this game, because the game is not built on a level playing field.”
Winfrey capped an electric first night at the 10th annual Women in the World summit in New York City.
Grazia Australia is reporting live from #WITW all week. Check back for more.