Interview with Angela Peabody, CEO of Global Woman Magazine

I had a vision for 5 years to create a magazine for women that would cover women’s issues. But I didn’t want a magazine that just covered one type of woman’s issue, or one type of woman. I wanted a magazine that every woman in the world could relate to…any woman from a village in Africa, or Asia, or Latin America, or Europe… I wanted a magazine like that.
 Can you tell us a little about yourself and your journey from Liberia to the United States?

I am a survivor of a coup d’état in 1980 in Liberia. I was born and raised there. I didn’t leave [the country] until I came to New York to go to college. After I graduated, I returned to Liberia, got married, started a family, and a brand new career as a television personality. I did television news in the evenings, and also produced and presented a television show for a half-hour game show that was similar to the The Newlywed Game.

I remained in that capacity until I got an opportunity to work closely with the Minister of Agriculture who was a woman at the time. I was able to travel to various places throughout the country, visiting and interviewing farmers, and attending annual World Food Security Council meetings in Rome. I am fortunate to have had such opportunities.

When the coup happened, my whole life changed. I was happily married, had two boys, my career was soaring- the show was the most popular TV show in the country, and my husband was the most popular radio DJ in the country. But overnight, our lives changed.

We had to flee the country overnight. We came to the United States to start new lives. At the time, they only allowed women and children to leave. I had to leave my husband at home. I came with my mother-in-law, sister- in- law and grandchildren. We started our lives in Washington, DC.

You know, I was always a magazine buff… always liked magazines. When I was eight, my mother subscribed to Newsweek, Time and Life magazines from the United States. When I couldn’t pronounce the words, my mother would tell me to look them up in the dictionary.

 What led you to create Global Woman Magazine?

I had a vision for 5 years to create a magazine for women that would cover women’s issues. But I didn’t want a magazine that just covered one type of woman’s issue, or one type of woman. I wanted a magazine that every woman in the world could relate to…any woman from a village in Africa, or Asia, or Latin America, or Europe… I wanted a magazine like that.

It represents every woman in the world…“It’s every woman’s passport to the world.” Whatever religion you are, whatever your background is, your nationality, or race, you are a global woman.

I launched [the magazine] 5 years ago in April. But I wasn’t satisfied with the magazine, wanted to take it one step further. It covered female genital mutilation, human trafficking, healthcare, and higher education for women, but I still had vision to bring women together in one room from all over the world – from every continent to talk about all the issues-because these issues haven’t been spoken about publicly.

Cosmopolitan will not cover female genital mutilation or human trafficking.

And I have gone to so many women’s conferences around, and on the panels, and we talk about issues…. but when we pack up and leave the conference, I don’t hear anymore about it until the next year’s conference.

What I envision is for us to talk about these issues. I’m going to request the panelists to come back to a committee and board with a call for action on each of those topics. Then we will take their recommendations and suggestions and work through the next twelve months, on how we can implement those suggestions and aim for the betterment of women’s lives in the world.

At next convening, we can present the attendees with report and show results from the last year and say, “Now let’s take it from here. It’s going to be a work in progress. We are not going to just drop the ball and leave it.

 You are a journalist and have written several books. What are your thoughts about the use of social media and technology by women? What developments have you observed in this arena?

I’m excited about it. I embrace technology. I have a personal Facebook page. I think social media is the way to go. I just told a colleague the other day that it is the way to go because I was invited to a meeting to talk about the summit and I asked the lady who invited me how she found out about it, and it was through technology, and I said, “Yes, if you don’t step up to the times and become technologically inclined, then I’m sorry- you’re going to be left behind and you will not be able to be successful in this world.” Technology has taken over the world and I knew that 15 years ago that that’s what would happen and it has made the world smaller and that is a positive thing.

I remember we would fax a document to Africa and it would get there in seconds, then email, and now we are texting and it’s getting there instantly. I’m elated because the kind of work we are doing, we have to have technology. You just told me that your magazine is online. If you didn’t have the budget to print, you had no way to produce a magazine.

It has brought the world closer together. Among women, we can connect and communicate electronically.

At the conference, we have a technology panel as well. We are calling it “The role of Women in Technology in the Future,” so we will definitely talk about it.

 How is and will both Global Woman Magazine and the Summit respond to the pivotal events of the Arab Spring? What kinds of discussions and actions do you see coming out from these multiple historic moments?

We want to address women driving. Most of the women in Somalia or in East Africa – most of the victims that are starving are women and children. We are going to look into that. What can be done to prevent that from happening in the future? I remember when Ethiopia was hit with famine many years ago, and I thought that was behind and now here we are again with the same region being hit with that. We are going to talk about that and touch on each one and see what women’s lives are how they are being affected and come up with a solution. We want to prevent girls from starving and discuss how we can stop prostitution of little girls in Liberia. Those are the issues.

I know that I cannot take on the world or the people that work with me… but somebody has to start it, and I don’t expect to be able to solve and end everything in my lifetime. I don’t think I can live long enough for that to happen, but at least start and the next generation can continue

I made a speech in London years ago at a conference that was called “Making Poverty History.” I told them in my speech, to the audience, that I dream of the day that my grandchildren can ask me what it was like when poverty was in the world.

They might not be able to ask in my lifetime, but at least their children might be able to ask them someday. At least someone would have tried to eradicate poverty, female genital mutilation, breast cancer, or human trafficking. Eradication is the only way to dream of it.

I don’t believe in “fighting” it – you can be fighting for the next 100 year. Let’s start the process of eradication.

 The first Global Woman Summit will be taking place in Washington, D.C. from October 8-11. What is the significance of this Summit?

What makes Global Woman Summit special is that the committee, organizers, and the Board of Directors are passionate and feel close to each other. The panelists want each others’ contact information prior to arrival in Washington, D.C. so they can interact and collaborate.

I haven’t seen such passion for a long time… since I’ve been attending these conferences. What makes it special is that we have women representing every continent in the world, with the exception of Antarctica. That makes it very special. I don’t know if it’s been done before. I feel confident that I can bring women of that caliber together like the First Lady of Malaysia, The First Lady of the United States, mayors of different cities, businesswomen, and physicians. I think it’s magnificent that these people think enough of what I have created to accept my invitation and come to participate in it. I am very grateful to them.

 What actions do you recommend for platforms like AltMuslimah in contributing to the global women’s community?

Magazines that are owned or run by women are… I think… if I had to create a call for action, I would recommend that we all get together in a conference-that we meet. It doesn’t have to be as large as the global women’s summit or any other large conference; it would be great to have a gathering of literary minds coming together to find a call for action on how we can best serve women and the public in the world. I would actively participate in this.

 What is your advice to the next generation?

When I started building Global Woman, I repeatedly said to my son that I’m doing this for my grandchildren. When we had to come to the United States and were displaced and had to start life all over again over here, they were little boys… and I remember the struggles I had just finding a job…people turning me away because I had a foreign accent… I remember all those things.

I want to build an organization where anybody who is qualified for a job can have that job- that is what I am endeavoring to build. My older son continues to work with me- he helps me run Global Woman. They have given me six grandchildren –those six “little blessings,” as I refer to them. I’m doing this so that someday so that they won’ have to look for jobs.

 Thank you for the interview. Do you have any final thoughts for our readers?
I want to say to all the women and girls, especially to the young looking forward to the future: stay in school and get and education. It’s normal to dream but don’t keep it as a dream. Reality comes from dreams.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *