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Filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy spoke about challenging misogyny, having the courage to fight and opening doors, in conversation with designer Diane von Fürstenberg at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos on Thursday.

In a session titled, ‘Wrapped in Leadership’, the duo highlighted the importance of using their platform to champion women’s empowerment and encouraged them to take the power to design their own lives.

 Photo: World Economic Forum
Photo: World Economic Forum

Fürstenberg, who is founder and co-chairwoman, Diane Von Furstenberg Studio, introduced Obaid-Chinoy as a “brave and serious film producer”.

Obaid-Chinoy, who is CEO of SOC Films, shared how she just finished a documentary on Fürstenberg’s life, which will be released on Disney+ overseas and Hulu in the US.

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“I’ve learnt so much from Diane. She’s always had this courage to fight,” added Obaid-Chinoy.

“For me as a woman and from where I come from, to be able to fight, speak out and be heard is so important.

“We do live in dark times, these are very difficult times to find inspiration from humanity from.”

Highlighting the courage of Pakistani activist from Swat valley, Tabassum Adnan, Obaid-Chinoy encouraged women to “take charge and make space for yourself,” adding how in her life, she has drawn courage from people who have overcome adversity.

 Photo: World Economic Forum
Photo: World Economic Forum

Obaid-Chinoy spoke about her work where she has to challenge misogyny, stereotypes, highlighting the backlash that comes with it.

“The strength to survive is always asking why not,” she added.

“Even in the darkest times, when you have threats against your life – which I have had plenty of – find that inner voice and hold on to it.

“Having the strength to survive for me is to be able to able to light the path, and knowing that others will follow in my footsteps.”

Fürstenberg also spoke about resilience, highlighting the plight of Nadia Mourad who overcame torture over being of Yazidi descent, to become a human rights activist.

“If you are true to yourself, you are free,” she added.

Fürstenberg added, “what we are in charge of is navigating our destiny and how intention is very important.”

“Intention is a very important word, because you focus on consequence. To manifest is to make it happen,” she added.

Obaid-Chinoy, on contemplating her legacy and the road ahead, wondered whether she will be remembered as the first woman from her country with two Oscars or the director of a franchise. Fürstenberg interjected, saying “or will you be the first director who became president?”

“How do we make sure that the door that we opened has many people walking through it?, asked Obaid-Chinoy, highlighting the 20 young women that her film fund, Patakha Pictures, gave a platform to last year.

“The leadership to inspire, for me, has been the amplification of voices,” she added.

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“Use your magic wand”, added Fürstenberg, referring to reaching out and helping others, saying that she tries to connect at least one person everyday to someone else.

Speaking about her iconic wrap dress became a symbol for women’s liberation, “live and design your own life,” concluded Fürstenberg.


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