Unity Dow wears many hats. She’s a lawyer, a retired judge (who happens to have been Botswana’s first female high court judge), a prolific author of four works of fiction and one non-fiction, and an advocate for the rights of women and girls. During her PopTech talk, which we’ll be posting shortly, she shared her perspective on a spectrum of topics connected to her pursuits including rethinking the future of Africa, reimagining the role of women and girls, and reclaiming one’s self and identity in the process. We caught up with her after she left the stage to follow up on some of the most salient points from her talk.
PopTech: During your PopTech presentation, you said that, “Africa’s star is on the rise,” because there’s a new generation saying, “I love myself for who I am. How can I move forward without being Western?” When you think about the Africa of the future, what do you see?
Unity Dow: I see prosperity, I see peace, I see democracy, I see the things that every young person, or every person, wants for themselves. People forget, there’s a whole new generation in Africa who do not have the burden of the colonial past. They didn’t live through it. But on the other hand they’ve been raised to be Western, I mean literally – young people in Africa would be proud not to like African music, would be proud not to like African food. It’s a statement of pride to say, “My child does not speak my language.” But now people are saying, are you crazy? What have you done to yourself? And they’re beginning to look at themselves and say, “You know what? I’m proud to be African. I’m beautiful as I am.”
A lot of your work has been fostering that sense of confidence – like your work on equality for women and issues like HIV/AIDS.
I’ve been involved with HIV and AIDS from the first time I heard the word in 1988. I co-founded the first AIDS-specific initiative in the country. So I’ve seen a lot of that, how women have been affected and infected over time, and I think the good news is that the devastation of the year 2000 is not there any more. Drugs are working. Of course there are issues about how to keep a whole nation on drugs. But then, everywhere in the world, people are on drugs for all kinds of reasons.
In terms of the space for women, gender equality, I have begun to see a difference. I know people introduce me as the first female judge in Botswana – but women should not be first at anything any more. That should be in the past. There are four women judges in Botswana now. The new generation is much more independent, much more assertive. They have the same problems as women anywhere in the world. So I see a change, but I know it’s not going to be overnight. The more women who are out there, the better, the quicker the change.
Among the most exciting PopTech conference moments are when the Fellows each give a glimpse into their compelling work and how it might change the world. The Fellows’ 2011 presentations are now available online so you can revisit those you savored and catch up with others you might have missed.
And learn about the ambitious initiatives of the 2011 Social Innovation Fellows ranging from local food networks to pay-as-you-go solar energy, and from keeping girls in school to building community through music and architecture.
Check out the Fellows’ big ideas and keep an eye out as their promising efforts continue to make great progress.
More than ever, technology allows us to easily share our experiences, and the photographic documentation of PopTech 2011 was no exception. We've taken a peek at Flickr, Twitter, Instagram and in our email boxes and we're excited to reveal the best of PopTech, through your eyes.
Camden harbor at dawn by Maria Popova
Camden Opera House by Brent Danley
Harpa Concert Hall & Conference Center
Reykjavik, Iceland, June 27-29, 2012
A one-of-a-kind global gathering of resilience thinkers, leaders and doers from around the world.
We live in a world fraught with shocks and disruptions—institutions break down, communities become imperiled and break apart, organizations peak only to subsequently crumble. What causes some systems to fail while others bounce back? How do we build more resilient organizations, communities and nations?
In June 2012, PopTech will bring together a global network of resilience researchers and practitioners from many fields—business, ecology, finance, design, technology and social innovation—to explore these vital questions. Visionary presentations will be punctuated with live performances, short films and the surprises only PopTech can give you, all happening in the stunning new Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Center.
Iceland is a country of ethereal beauty. In a single visit, you can see powerful geological forces at work, a clean-energy economy in action, and an internationally renowned creative culture. We have chosen to convene here not only for these reasons, but also because, following the global financial crisis of 2008, the country has become a laboratory for social resilience. As part of the gathering, we’re designing optional, eye-opening excursions so that you can experience all of this firsthand.
Seats for this global gathering are extremely limited and will sell out, so we invite you to register today and join us for what promises to be an extraordinary learning experience.
Request your registration to PopTech: Reykjavik today!
Registration is $3,000.
Special, limited-time offer!
PopTech Reykjavik + PopTech Camden
$5,000 ($500 discount)
OFFER ENDS NOVEMBER 11
We heard dozens of stage talks, saw incredible demos and performances, captured lots of video and wrote even more on our blog during PopTech 2011 - in addition to a constant flow on Twitter and Tumblr! And with the conference streaming live, too, we realize it may have been difficult to keep up with everything. That's why we thought we'd offer a two-part recap with highlights from what we covered on the blog as the conference was taking place, drawing your attention to some of our favorite pieces on the blog:
- From the PopTech stage, Thomas Thwaites explained how he created a toaster from scratch, from raw materials.
- Salt Water Farm offered PopTech attendees a cooking class - and this sweet fennel marmalade recipe!
- 2011 Science Fellow Katherine Kuchenbecker explained how she's working to incorporate the sense of touch, known as haptics, into human-computer interfaces.
- We interivewed Egyptian activist Shima'a Helmy about her work leading that country's uprising in January of 2011.
- We watched a PopTech-made video about Connected, a collaboration between PopTech alum, Reuben Margolin, a kinetic sculptor and Gideon Obarzanek, a choreographer.
- Our photographers trekked around Camden, snapping photos of attendees, presenters, staff and volunteers and we put together a few slideshows, including this one.
- We spoke to Alison Klayman about her upcoming documentary, Never Sorry, which follows artist Ai Weiwei.
- Social Innovation Fellow Bryan Doerries performed The Theater of War.
Image: Kris Krug for PopTech
The World Rebalancing, by M ss ng P eces
During the PopTech conference last week, we showed an interstitial video prior to each session to segue into a new group of talks. If you saw a video onstage or during the Livestream that you'd like to see again, we've compiled them here for your viewing pleasure!
We heard dozens of stage talks, saw incredible demos and performances, captured lots of video and wrote even more on our blog during PopTech 2011 - in addition to a constant flow on Twitter and Tumblr! And with the conference streaming live, too, we realize it may have been difficult to keep up with everything. That's why we thought we'd offer a two-part recap with highlights from what we covered on the blog this past week as the conference was taking place, drawing your attention to some of our favorite pieces on the blog:
- Dava Newman showed us her new spacesuit design.
- We interviewed Nobel Laureate Rajendra Pachauri about his climate change work with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
- We heard the President of Iceland speak about his country's path to recovery on the PopTech stage and then had an opportunity to interview him in more detail.
- We learned about a collaboration that was sparked at last year's conference between 2010 Science Fellow Sarah Fortune and Crowdflower founder Lukas Biewald to crowdsource tuberculosis research.
- We hung out backstage with rapper/composer Blitz the Ambassador.
- We introduced the Class of 2011 Science Fellows.
- And we announced our first iPad app!
More to come...Stay tuned!
Image: Kris Krug for PopTech
Bkbooth captured some fun photos of presenters, attendeees, volunteers and staff cutting loose during PopTech's closing night party. Have a look through the entire album, which has just been posted online in its entirety.
Thank you to everyone who made PopTech the incredible event it was this year. We look forward to seeing you next year. In the meantime, stay enthralled, stay challenged, stay safe and stay connected...
Zeb and Haniya, PopTech 2011 performers, at the Camden Village Green.