Knowledge is power: access to education for marginalised women

In this plenary talk, Brita Fernandez Schmidt reflects and shares her experience of working with marginalised women. 

1 hour

About this plenary talk

Brita Fernandez Schmidt has worked for over 20 years with marginalised women all over the world. She has seen that, no matter where in the world, access to knowledge is the key to unlocking potential and transforming lives. Brita will reflect on the lessons she has learned for providing access to education and knowledge to the most marginalised women in developing countries who have never been to school and the ripple effects that this has on their families and the wider community.

She will share the practical approaches that organisations like Women for Women International have developed for teaching in the absence of literacy. Her talk will be making references to different contexts of extreme poverty, including a recent project that provides English language teaching to Syrian women refugees in the Kurdish Region of Iraq.

The specific work that Women for Women International delivers in countries affected by conflict directly relates to the wider International Development frameworks, such as the Global Goals, which were agreed by the UN in 2015 and set the global agenda for poverty reduction. In her plenary, she will show how her organisation is contributing to the implementation for these goals and provide insight into how education plays a key role in making these goals a reality.

About the speaker

Brita Fernandez Schmidt is an advocate and promoter of women’s empowerment, women’s rights and equality. She frequently writes about the challenges women face all over the world in the context of poverty and conflict. Brita is a public speaker on these issues. She has lived in and/or worked with over 16 countries spanning three continents. Brita has led several influential women’s organisations and networks. She currently runs Women for Women International - UK as Executive Director. She has grown the organisation from when it first started in the UK to a medium-sized organisation which is helping thousands of women in countries affected by conflict and raising millions through effective and innovative donor relationships and partnerships.

Brita holds an MA in Women’s Studies from the University of Sussex. Originally from Germany, Brita went to school in Venezuela. She now lives in the UK with her husband and two daughters. Her first TEDx talk went live in January and can be seen at

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