Newsweek and Daily Beast editor Tina Brown’s summit on women looked to me to be same old same old: Hillary Clinton standing up for the rights of “girls and women” and the stuff we’ve been hearing for years. But I wasn’t there, and Christina Hoff Sommers, whose judgment I respect, was:

Women’s conferences are usually tedious affairs, organized by women’s studies professors and Title IX lobbyists and filled with complaint, victim-talk, and “anger issues.” But this one was different. Its subject was not the travails of middle-class American women, but rather the genuine hardships and dangers faced by women in Muslim and other cultures in the developing world. Not a single representative from the National Organization for Women or the American Association of University Women was in evidence. The panels were moderated by well-known journalists-Christiane Amanpour, Charlie Rose, Leslie Stahl, and Barbara Walters. Several prominent American women served on panels, including Kirsten Gillibrand, Melinda Gates, Cheryl Mills, Amy Chua, and Diane Von Furstenberg. But the stars of the summit were activists from the poorest regions of the world. And the spirit was not self-pitying and anti-male but self-confident and serious….

One after another, women from Bangladesh, Cambodia, the Congo, and Egypt spoke about how they were organizing against honor killings, mass rapes, genital mutilation, child marriage, and gender apartheid-and getting results. We met the “Rosa Parks of Saudi Arabia,” Wajeha Al-Huwaider. As co-founder of the Association for the Protection and Defense of Women’s Rights in Saudi Arabia, this divorced mother of two is waging a brave and relentless campaign against sexist injustice. A social networker, she has posted a provocative video of herself on YouTube-with more than 200,000 hits so far. What makes it provocative? She is driving a car and encouraging other Saudi women to do the same. In another video she revealed details about an upcoming marriage between an eight-year-old girl and a 50-year-old man. Local journalists as well as CNN picked up on the story. An unusual public discussion of the horrors of child marriage ensued-and the little girl was set free.

Hoff Sommers admits that a major speaker voiced the standard complaints but insists that most of them had moved onto something more meaningful. Like I said, I wasn’t there. I am skeptical, but if there’s anybody’s whose word I’ll take on this issue, it’s Christina’s.