23 OCTOBER 2008

As the wife of California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and a member of the Kennedy clan – her mum Eunice is the sister of the late JFK – Maria Shriver is particularly well-connected.

This week she harnessed the power of her contacts book to bring together a roll-call of internationally renowned activists for a women's conference.

Anti-poverty campaigner Bono took to the podium, as did Heidi Klum and Jennifer Lopez, who spoke passionately about her experiences. The new mum became committed to gender issues after portraying a journalist investigating the deaths of Mexican women in 2006 film Bordertown.

Also among the participants was Tony Blair's wife Cherie, who attended in her capacity as a human rights lawyer and an advocate of education for girls in poor countries. At the conference she caught up with another former first lady - Cecilia Attias, who was once married to President Sarkozy of France.

The political world, meanwhile, was represented by US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and one of her predecessors, Madeleine Albright, now a professor at Washington's Georgetown University.

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The conference's organiser, Maria Shriver - pictured with U2 star Bono - brought together scores of high-profile names under the banner of women's rightsPhoto: © Getty ImagesClick on photos for gallery
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As well as being the wife of Arnold Schwarznegger, Maria is a former journalist and member of the Kennedy clan - meaning she had plenty of clout when it came to lining up speakers like Jennifer Lopez Photo: © Getty Images
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Cherie Blair and Cecilia Attias, the ex-wife of French President Nicolas Sarkozy were also among the attendees Photo: © Getty Images
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