Amanpour and Mulcahy stump for global actionMay 21, 2010: 3:29 PM ET
by Jessica Shambora
Global issues took center stage at last night's Fortune Most Powerful Women dinner in New York, thanks to the voices of CNN's legendary foreign correspondent Christiane Amanpour and Xerox's (XRX) Anne Mulcahy, who retired as chairman yesterday.
Amanpour, who spent 27 years at CNN championing international coverage, heads to ABC in August to take over from George Stephanopoulos as host of Sunday morning's This Week. She told Fortune's Pattie Sellers that the move was spurred not merely by the chance to work at a broadcast network, but also by the specific opportunity she was offered. She called Sunday morning "one of the last bastions of serious news."
This Week won't become an international news broadcast, said Amanpour, but viewers can expect to benefit from her global perspective. Referring to the U.S., the U.K. native reiterated her opinion that it's "dangerous and wrong that this amazingly powerful, important country, which seeks to export its ideals, which has so much to do with the rest of the world and vice versa, somehow has a blind spot" when it comes to broadcast foreign news.
One person helping to shrink that blind spot is former Xerox CEO Mulcahy, who just returned from a trip to Afghanistan on behalf of Save the Children. She recently stepped in as chair there.
Mulcahy spoke of a meal she shared with some Afghan women, including one who said "that they kind of understood that their lives were what they were, but they wanted to talk about the possibilities for their daughters."
Amanpour applauded Mulcahy, explaining how she herself had tried to show that "people are people all over the world."
"The people of Afghanistan or the people of Haiti, wherever, have just as much right to have their story told," she said.
Last night's event was filled with such stories thanks also to 33 rising star international women participating in the Fortune-U.S. State Department Mentoring program. Among them were two Haitian women who delivered impassioned pleas for the international community to believe and invest in their country, which is still reeling from January's earthquake.
Amanpour suggested that Haiti had tourism and manufacturing potential, including a low-wage workforce that was much closer to the U.S. than China.
But Mulcahy, ever the businesswoman, explained that it's tough to invest in countries with weak governments. Still, having visited Haiti with Save the Children twice since the earthquake, she urged a sustainable approach.
"Sometimes we get really comforted by throwing a lot of money at a problem in the short-term and although it feels good, it doesn't necessarily stick. We really have to make a commitment that this is about decades of investing in the right way to try to change a country that obviously had huge problems before the earthquake."
Those 33 mentees were tapped to take their month-long experience in the U.S., where they shadowed MPWomen leaders, back to their home countries. (Goldman Sachs (GS) and Fortune give an annual award to the alum of the program who does it best.) With that, and the efforts of Mulcahy and Amanpour to bring international awareness to the U.S., last night's group departed with plenty to be hopeful about.