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PEARL CHIMES IN: Journalist Mariane Pearl helped put a human face on Gucci’s Chime for Change campaign Tuesday, during an informal talk at the Hearst Tower. The French-born author has established her own rallying voice in the 12 years since her husband Daniel, a Wall Street Journal reporter, was kidnapped and killed by Islamic militants.
About 30 Hearst-ers — including Harper’s Bazaar’s Laura Brown, Marie Claire’s Riza Cruz and Redbook’s Jill Herzig — were all ears at the seated luncheon, when Pearl fielded a few questions from editorial director Ellen Levine. Gucci America president Christophe de Pous was also on hand.
Pearl told the crowd, “I am convinced that women, especially young women, are not going to be silenced any more. We saw that in the Arab Spring. What was embedded in that revolution was the revolution of women who have stood up after being persecuted.
“Why now? Obviously there is the Internet, social media and all that. But maybe we have seen and gone through enough, and now it’s over,” she said. “We have also come to a time when [female] journalists are trained. They know how to tell a story. They just need a little bit of help. They have an extremely clear sense of purpose. They know why they want to be a journalist and why their country needs it.”
Pearl described how a young woman in Malawi took it upon herself to go to the Malawi News to declare her homosexuality publicly — a first for the country — and the newspaper made her account a page-one story. That kind of independent activism resonates with women, especially young ones all around the world, and potentially could outweigh the influence of female political leaders. “My hope really relies on individuals. A fantastic person getting a position of power, is she going to be able to handle it? I don’t know,” she said. “Young women especially are going to be inspired by [first-person] stories that they hear so the leadership should be more democratic.”
Noting how there are 77 college courses women in Iran are no longer allowed to major in, Pearl said, “When you see how people are trying to stop women, then you see the power of women and you understand they are afraid of women.”
As for whether she had any reservations about working with a fashion company that some might say objectifies women in its advertising, Pearl said, “Yeah, but you know what? I feel like you have to get over it. The world is what it is. Let’s work with it. Gucci is this incredible company. I think it is phenomenal that a fashion company like them has stepped in.”