Thursday, February 4, 2010

Singing their praises; Ted Turner honored

Ted Turner honored by International Women’s Health Coalition
A Northern Cardinal in Central Park. 3:10 PM. Photo: JH.
February 4, 2010. The snow was just about gone when we awoke yesterday morning although it had snowed lightly all night. Although the weatherman’s saying we’ve got a big one coming over the weekend.

Last night at Cipriani 42nd, the International Women’s Health Coalition honored Ted Turner and Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu at their 2010 Gala. The men were honored for the “contributions they made towards making a just and healthy life a reality for women and girls worldwide." Archbishop Tutu was not in attendance.

The IWHC is well known within the confines of its interests, and its influence is worldwide. Yet at the same time, the general population has almost no awareness of its existence let alone awareness of the power of its influence. Maria Hinojosa, the PBS Senior Correspondent who was last night’s emcee, alluded to that disconnect in explaining how her mother who was very active in helping abused women did not like to think of herself as a “feminist,” but she was.
Ted Turner. Diana Taylor. Francine LeFrak.
Dennis Ashbaugh and Alexandra Penney. Joni Evans and Bob Perkins.
Nevertheless, the turnout and those attending attest to its power. Ted Turner, as the world knows, has decided to use his great fortune to support organizations such as IWHC, and that is because he is savvy and knows what it has accomplished and what it can accomplish. The guest list last night had a greater percentage of women over men but I’d bet a lot of them there were major supporters, not only in terms of encouragement and but in terms of writing checks.

The IWHC is intent on making every woman’s right to a just and healthy life a global reality. Here in the U.S. a lot of us take it for granted because we’ve been educated and conditioned to it especially beginning with the Feminist Movement of the 1960s and 70s. (Although we’ve got a long way to go.) However, elsewhere, especially in the Middle East, Asia and the subSaharan countries, women, beginning with girls, are non-entities (except for their disproportionate contribution to daily life).
The tables ...
The IWHC shapes international policy and budgets and builds local capacity for women’s health and human rights. That begins with education – educating women to think outside of the box of their societal confinements. The IWHC is out to change thinking, redirect funding and motivate action by people and institutions that can secure rights and health for women and girls. This requires a strategy in which we empower local organizations, mobilize women and young people to act, inform powerbrokers and advocates for women in nations’ capitals and the UN. They are working to end discrimination, sexual coercion and violence against women and girls, and to ensure access to health services and information. However, first girls must be educated to what they already know, and secondly boys must be educated by their mothers and sisters to what it never occurred to them to know.

Last night’s guests included Martha Stewart, Christy Turlington, Marnie Pillsbury, Veronique and Bob Pittman, Ann and Thomas Unterberg, Elaine and James Wolfensohn, Francine LeFrak, Alexandra Penney and Dennis Ashbaugh, Diana Taylor (who chaired the evening), Shelly Lazarus (President and CEO of Ogilvy & Mather), Michael Oppenheimer, Timothy and Wren Wirth, Paul Fribourg.
Martha Stewart. Christy Turlington and Ann Unterberg.
Adrienne Germain, President of IWHC.
I got a picture of Turlington talking with Ann Unterberg who has long been a big supporter and mover in the cause. Turlington, who has a very sweet and gentle personality on a one-to-one basis, to go along with that glamorous international image, told me she is studying at the Mailman School of Public Health, so that one of these days she too will go out in the world to help in educating the rest of us.

These evenings always remind me of my mother who was born in the first decade of the 20th century into a world where “rights” were at best only something to lament the lack of. However, those women, as it was with my mother, were often the breadwinners, the builders, the educators, as well as the object of discrimination and abuse. They knew nothing else, and expected nothing else, and were in no position to educate their daughters. Today those women, with the education to heighten awareness and consciousness, have the opportunity to make a better world for all of us. Something we are deeply in need of. IWHC deserves everybody’s support, for the sake of all well-being.

Visit their site and see for yourself:
Outside Cipriani 42nd Street, looking at Grand Central Terminal.
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