By Stacey Gualandi/January 28, 2013
Heavy rain, snarled traffic and car accidents on Sunset Boulevard couldn’t keep almost 200 of Los Angeles’ most respected and top female leaders from attending the launch of Women A.R.E. in Beverly Hills last Friday.
Jane Fonda, Daryl Hannah and AnnaLynne McCord were just a few of the influential women who gathered for an intimate and rare conversation with CNN Hero Somaly Mam, a former Cambodian sex slave who is at the forefront of efforts to end human trafficking.
This is the first such event for Women A.R.E., founded just a few months ago by author and motivational speaker Angella Nazarian, and Beth Friedman, social entrepreneur and tireless education advocate in Los Angeles. Their mission is to “aspire, respond, and engage,” and after hearing from many of the women in attendance, these forward-thinking founders did just that.
I was honored to attend this Salon, one of several planned for 2013. Ms. Nazarian was a recent guest of mine on our TWE radio show; I met Somaly Mam at a 2011 Los Angeles event for her Foundation; and Jane Fonda has been featured many times on this site, so this event was tailor-made for The Women’s Eye.
According to Friedman, who opened up her beautiful private residence for this launch, Women A.R.E. was “a year in the making.” She and Nazarian were looking for their “Act Two” and wanted to use their collective resources in an effective way to promote and foster new ideas when it comes to entrepreneurship, work-life issues, and health and wellness.
Nazarian said Somaly Mam is an important person because she “unleashed a movement on a global platform.” She has forged a transformative path — from life as a young girl in a brothel to a woman who now rescues other young girls from a life of slavery — with courage and love.
“Today, in my heart, I’m a happy woman,” said a humble Somaly. She has achieved that through forgiveness and the love she shares and receives with the 7000 girls she has saved. But the statistics are daunting. Every minute, two girls are sold into slavery across the globe.
In just the time that all of these women came together, 240 girls had been sold. However, Somaly remains steadfast in her commitment to educating and empowering these young women despite the challenges.
If the success of this first event is any indication, Nazarian and Friedman can feel confident about their plans for the 2013 Women A.R. E. Conference set for November 2013. And you can be sure, The Women’s Eye will be there.
More photos from the event: