Gender Equality: The State of Our Union

“Gender Equality: The State of Our Union”-- the inaugural program of The Foundation for Gender Equality -- took place on April 25 in New York City. It was a provocative and compelling event and a resounding success. Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to President Barack Obama and Amy Ziering, award-winning documentary film producer, led the roster of outstanding honorees and advocates who spoke to a capacity audience. The Foundation’s first education awards were presented to Roya Mahoob, who is a global force in empowerment through technology and Educator Nicholas Ferroni, who is a tireless champion of gender equality with students.

At the program, Richard Fitzburgh, chairman and founder, announced that a new tool is now in place to enable the Foundation to accept donations on-line, via a quick mobile giving site for the Foundation. He acknowledged, Dr. Peter Favaro, a member of the Foundation’s Board of Directors, for developing this innovative option with long term potential for the Foundation.

Co-founder Jill Fitzburgh addressed the audience, pointing out that the Foundation’s first program drew attendees who are already working tirelessly on behalf of women and girls, especially those impacted by domestic violence and sexual assault. She noted that three of the Foundations preferred charities, Camp Hope, The Center for Family Justice, and paws4people have tremendous programs underway to help victims of abuse recover.

Keynote Speakers and Honorees Valerie Jarrett, former senior advisor to President Barack Obama, including Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls and Amy Ziering, Academy Award nominated producer and director of films including momentous exposés of sexual assault The Invisible War and The Hunting Ground brought the house down and attendees to their feet. Scott Evans, correspondent for Access Hollywood, graciously served as Emcee.

Ms. Jarrett, in conversation with Robert Wolf, CEO of 32 Advisors and Chairman of Measure & former Economic Advisor to President Obama, discussed “Is Gender Equality Possible in the 21st Century?” While Ms. Ziering spoke about “Sexism, Lies and Videotape: Feminism and Responsibility in the 21st Century”.

The first Education Awards from the Foundation were presented to Roya Mahboob, by Theresa Boylan, co-founder, who described Roya as a “trailblazer, advocate and technology innovator for girls”. Ms. Mahboob is a founder of The Digital Citizen Fund, also a designated charity of the Foundation. She spearheaded the creation of thirteen internet training centers in Afghanistan that changed the lives of more than 9,000 girls by introducing them to technology. Also recognized with a Gender Equality award was NJ teacher Nicholas Ferroni, an award-winning educator and activist, who demonstrated one of the exercises he uses in the classroom to open students’ eyes to unconscious disparities experienced by women and girls.

Richard Fitzburgh, Foundation Founder and Chairman, thanked the honorees for their ground-breaking efforts in support of women and girls, noting, “I want to express my deep gratitude to the many hands that made this program exceptional, especially our honorees. We are inspired and will continue to grow The Foundation for Gender Equality into a major force for change.”

Next up is a fashion event planned for mid-September to showcase the tremendous advocates and survivors we have been privileged to meet along our journey to help women and girls achieve gender equality.