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Students hear international women leaders

by Monica Pleuler & Saida Oliver, staff writers



Four HPU communication majors joined about 500 successful women from Hawai‘i, the nation, and the world for the 2004 International Women’s Leadership Conference, hosted by Gov. Linda Lingle at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, Nov. 17-19.


Focusing on “Women of Inspiration: Their personal stories,” the conference showcased women of different ethnicities in prominent positions in seven areas: government, business, travel, media and communications, education, social and humanitarian services, and health and wellness. The women’s speeches were powerful and echoed a recurring theme: Women can achieve inspiration and guidance through mentoring each other.


Gov. Lingle opened the conference: “There are still too few women in positions of leadership. Only other women will change that in any substantial way.”

Lingle was followed by keynote speaker Patricia de Stacy Harrison, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State, who described U.S. training of Afghan women to be effective teachers in their country. She was followed by a two-day-long series of speeches in the seven areas where women are taking leadership roles.

Representing women in government were Brigadier Gen. Coral Wong Pietsch, U.S. Army Reserve, and Hussniya Jabara, a former member of the Israeli Knesset, an Arab, and a Muslim. Jabara is active in supporting rights for all women in Israel, whether they are Jewish, Christian, or Muslim. “Without the support of other women,” Jabara said, “we can get nowhere.”

Women in Business were presented by Annie Wu, vice chair of Beijing Air Catering, Ltd., and Merle Okawara, chair and CEO of JC COMSA Corporation, which introduced frozen pizza to Japan. Wu focused on her work with UNICEF educating and caring for blind children in Tibet. She light-heartedly promised any audience members willing to help, free tickets to Tibet.

After lunch a panel of women in communication, moderated by HPU Dean of Communication Dr. Helen Varner, introduced Dawn Drew, vice president of National Geographic Traveler magazine and a member of the board of directors of the Travel Industry Association. Varner ended the session saying, “Never underestimate the power of a woman.”

Friday morning, Vivian Aiona, wife of Hawai‘i Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona, used examples from her own life to show how women struggle and triumph over financial hardships. She ended with a metaphor: “Stringing together character, laughter, intelligence, humility, faith, and strength, creates a lei of beauty made and worn by women.”

Renee Amoore, president of the Amoore Group, a healthcare entrepreneurial and advocacy organization, was the keynote speaker of the day. Amoore was named by President George W. Bush to help create the National Museum of African-American History in Washington, D.C. A witty speaker, she addressed racism, self-preservation, and the will to triumph over all odds. “I want us to love ourselves. I want us to be proud of ourselves,” Amoore said. She got a standing ovation.

Speaking for women in education, social and humanitarian services was Ella Gera, executive director of Israel Women’s Network. She advised women to “Know your rights. Stand on your rights!” She spoke to women of power, saying, “Share your knowledge. Take the time to reach out to those around you, and encourage them to pass on the information to others. Together we can make a difference.”



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