The very first in the Leon H Sullivan Foundation’s history, the International Women’s Luncheon was a huge success, pulling together a very dynamic group of women speakers who are not only successful in their careers, from Politicians to business women and humanitarians but more so as role models for other women, sharing their experiences on how to navigate through life and be the woman you are meant to be. From survival tactics as a woman in higher management, to navigating your way successfully in a male dominated career as a Politician, the women brought the message home. On a bright and beautiful day in the heart of downtown Atlanta, women gathered for a luncheon that inspired so many, a luncheon that left guests wanting more and more from the speakers but sadly when time was up, there had to be a close. That is how good the International Luncheon was.
Set in the beautiful Marriott Marquis in Atlanta Ga, the guests were served with a very delicious platta of Southern delights, each with a nice little gift bag with goodies from Macy’s and seated next to other women of substance, with a great opportunity to network, the atmosphere was just right for EVERY WOMAN and MAN present.
You couldn’t ask for more from the Panelists, strong successful and dynamic women, ready to share their success stories with everyone. The Panelists for the luncheon were: Diana L Bell, Sr Vice President , Hewitt Packard Co (ret), Her Excellency Erieka Bennett (PhD), Chief of Mission, Diaspora Africa Forum, Honorable Mbarka Bouiada, Member of House of Representatives, Morocco, Dr. Julianne Malveaux, President, Bennett College, Mecca Moore, President, National Sales Network and Bernadette Paolo, President, The Africa Society.
Mrs Carolyn Young, the wife of Ambassador Andrew Young served as the Honorary Chair of the International Women’s Luncheon. A very dynamic woman and a great speaker, she gave a very moving speech. The theme of the Luncheon centered around the various roles that women play in society, basically women do everything, ‘ we are rich, poor, thriving, suffering, hopeless and hopeful. We are primary teachers, confidants, accountants, cooks, counselors and negotiators……
We are Presidents, writers, politicians, dancers, engineers, bakers and entertainer; wives, mothers, daughters and friends. We are vastly different yet we all want peace, safety, enough prosperity, good health for ourselves and families and a better world in which our children can thrive. We are every woman because of the myriad roles that we assume throughout life, but also because we are our sisters’ keepers” (Leon H Sullivan Foundation: Africa Policy Forum; International Women’s Luncheon 2010)
Her Excellency Dr. Erieka Bennett, Chief of Mission for the African Diaspora Forum, flew in from Ghana to Speak at the Leon H Sullivan Foundation’s ‘Africa Policy Forum. Dr. Bennett is at the forefront of the the current wave encouraging Africa diaspora to look back to Africa and help the development of Africa through investment and building of the civil society. The Africa Diaspora, she explains includes those Africans who were forcefully removed from Africa through slavery and those continental Africans who left the continent in search for better lives and greener pastures in Europe, North America and elsewhere. Her work and efforts through the African Diaspora Forum is certainly in line with the mission of the Leon H Sullivan Foundation. It was certainly an honor to meet Dr. Bennett and all the dynamic speakers at the International Women’s Luncheon, sharing their experiences, life challenges and successes as women leaders.
Dr. Julianne Malveaux is currently the President of Bennett College in North Carolina, a top rated educational institution for black women. A renowned Economist, educationist, author and motivational speaker, Dr. Malveaux, a very successful woman shared her experiences and how she navigates her way to the top and stays at the top, the challenges that women face and the inspiration and motivation within that keeps her going strong.
The conversations continued with keened interests from the guests as speaker after speaker told their stories of success and the challenges at every step of the ladder and what really makes a woman successful. Pictured above, Honorable Mbarka Bouaida, Member of the House of Representatives in Morocco who flew in for the Africa Policy Forum shares her experience as a woman in the male dominated arena of Politics. As a Politician in Africa she brought in the African experience of women in Politics, she stated some very amazing statistics on the growing involvement of Moroccan women in Politics, a rate that beats even the developed countries. The current leadership of Morocco is all about promoting women to take up their roles in the development of the country and Politics is just one area that this recent wave of women participation is being felt, something that all African countries need to emulate.
The next Africa Summit organized by the Leon H Sullivan Foundation will be held in Morocco in 2011, more information to be released soon by the Foundation.
Miss Africa USA was able to share a little about her project with the guests and speakers at the Leon H Sullivan Foundation’s International Women’s Luncheon. The first beauty Queen to take up a Women’s Issue as her Platform, Queen Fifi Soumah is speaking out against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) a cultural practice which violates the rights of of girls and women and leaves the woman at risk and in danger during child birth. Queen Fifi has also adopted 2 schools in the Republic of Guinea and a group of young girls from disadvantaged homes in Guinea to sponsor them through school so they too can learn to read and write and get the benefit of education. She was very happy to be a part of such an empowering and inspiring forum for women. She was certainly inspired by the caliber of women she met at the Luncheon.
The International Women’s Luncheon which was sponsored by Coca Cola Company and Macy’s, was part of a series of Events for the Africa Policy Forum may have been the first for the Sullivan Foundation but it certainly will not be the last. As women around the world look forward to celebrating the 100th (century) year of the Women’s Liberation Movement in 2011, I am sure the Leon H Sullivan Foundation will be giving women an even bigger and better treat to celebrate the women’s movement. The luncheon was a teaser that no one wanted to end, everyone sat in place and listened, many had questions to ask and stories to share but before we knew it, it was over. Congratulations to the Sullivan Foundation for bringing women together in the light of being ‘MY SISTER’S KEEPER’ because I’M EVERY WOMAN’.
Lady Kate Njeuma (Author)