Back to the “official” awards. Former Ambassador Swanee Hunt received the Vision Award for her work advocating gender parity.
The amazing Lilly Ledbetter, who took her fight for equal pay to the Supreme Court. She sought back pay from Goodyear Tire & Rubber after learning that for 23 years she was being paid 40% less than her male counterparts. She lost the case in 2007. President Barack Obama signed his first law after Ledbetter requiring equal pay for equal work.
Queen Latifah received the Celebrating Women Award and announced a $10,000 pledge for a new initiative from the NYWF called RISE – or Respond, Inspire, Solve, Engage. I like that even though QL has many other projects and the economy is sour, she was still able to commit funds to the cause.
The last honoree was musician and humanitarian Angelique Kidjo. Even from the back of the hall filled with more than 2,000 women and men, I could feel her energy. The Grammy Award winning singer from Benin spoke poignantly of her family and her relationship with her father, and delivered an important message to men: “We—women—are your partners; we are not your possessions.” Love it!
The awards breakfast was also a Who’s Who of New York politics: Gov. David Patterson, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn all spoke.
Larger organizations such as the New York Women’s Foundation help make possible the achievements of smaller groups such as GEMS and the College and Community Fellowship. When faced with our own economic and personal hardships, the lives of women such as Blount and Campbell remind us that donations of every size can help transform the lives of those in need.
Deborah Creighton Skinner is the editorial director at BlackEnterprise.com