offer advice to the new U.S. president
of the nine women who have received the U.Va. Women's
Center's Distinguished Alumna Award met for the first
time, sharing laughs and morning sunshine on the Lawn: (from
left) Elaine Jones, Kathryn Thornton, Mariann Stratton, Hanan
Ashrawi and Dr. Vivian Pinn. They returned to the University
for the Nov. 2 conference, "Women 2000: Shapers of the
World," in recognition of the Women's Center's 10th anniversary,
20 years of Women's Studies and 30 years of full coeducation
in undergraduate programs at U.Va.
distinguished women graduates of the University -- all leaders
in their fields -- gathered in Charlottesville several days before
elections for a conference where they offered advice to the new
president of the United States. The Nov. 2 event was part of the
U.Va. Women's Center's
10th anniversary celebration, "Women 2000: Shapers of the
women, previous winners of the U.Va. Women's Center Annual Distinguished
Alumna Award, spoke on diverse topics, from health and responsibility
in wielding power to education and choosing judges. Women may
be doing better in the U.S. in many areas, but it is more important
than ever for women, and men, not to be cynical, and instead get
involved in improving their communities and the lives of others,
the women said. The president -- and we -- also need to be concerned
about the horrendous realities for women around the world, some
pointed out. Excerpts from their remarks follow.
Mariann Stratton, retired Rear Admiral of the U.S. Navy
President, I am a typical American in that I have many overlapping
identities. I'm a woman, a citizen of these United States of America.
My background is very multicultural in that I am Portuguese, I'm
French, I'm Scottish and German and British. I'm a retiree. I'm
a mother and a grandmother. I am responsible for the well-being
of elderly family members and for youngsters in the family. And
so my concerns are many.
ask for a president who remembers that it is "we, the people"
he is representing. It's not big corporations. It's not labor
unions. It's us. And I ask him to display courage and to risk
his political future in doing the right thing. FDR said that the
president of the United States is a moral barometer. We need someone
we can be proud of, someone we can look to as a strong, courageous
Vivian Pinn, director of the National Institutes of Health
Office of Research on Women's Health
all the things we should ask our president to think about in the
next four years, health has to be central because without good
health, we're really not in a position to carry out our other
desires. It's extremely important to think about our changing
demographics. We're seeing an increase in the number of elderly,
people of color and women, which means that we really need to
pay attention to health care problems and to the disparities that
exist among the different populations in this country. The central
focus must be to support research to help us fill in knowledge
gaps and to make sure that there is access to health care for
Hanan Ashrawi, founder and member of the executive committee
of the Palestinian Independent Commission for Citizens' Rights
foreign policy should demonstrate a responsibility of power rather
than an intoxication with power. Peacemaking is not something
to be embarked on lightly. I would like to see an injection of
morality and respect for human rights and for human sacrifice
in American foreign policy. The U.S. should not superimpose a
very simplistic paradigm on a very complex situation. One thing
that's extremely dangerous is if the U.S. thinks it can isolate
itself from the problems of the rest of the world or that it can
be inured to the ramifications of short-sighted, irresponsible
policies, particularly in the Middle East.
Elaine Jones, one of the top civil rights lawyers in the country
and director of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund
President, you are now the president of all the people. So, I
ask you to find some way to strike a balance in the divided opinions
of your people. How?
be careful about the quality of justice that you appoint to the
Supreme Court of the United States. We are first and foremost
a nation of law. In order for democracy to work the way that it
must, we must have respect for the law and for our justices and
judges. So, I ask you not to give an ideological litmus test on
how a particular nominee would vote on a particular issue. But
instead, look to women and men who understand the law, who have
practiced the law and who, through their experience and intellects
have shown that they would make this nation proud. And I ask you
not only to do that for the Supreme Court, but also for the courts
of appeal and the district courts.
the issues of social justice and human rights you need to have
someone close to you who has some legitimacy in the community
and can cut through the layers of review to be your eyes and ears.
United States signed an international treaty on the eradication
of racism, but it took our government five years to submit a report.
We have to abide by the same rules we ask others to abide by.
So, ask the State Department to pay attention to these issues.
And let's take a look at human rights issues in the United States.
Kathryn Thornton, former astronaut, now U.Va. professor of
aerospaceengineering and director of the Center for Science Education
me, the No. 1 issue is education. We need bipartisan support for
strong educational programs at every level. Kids can't learn if
they're in schools that are falling apart. They can't learn if
they don't have teachers who are well-trained. They can't learn
if they don't have a home environment that allows them to come
to school ready to learn.
world is becoming more technological every year. And we're splitting
into two groups of people -- those who are keeping up and those
who are not. There are a lot of moral, ethical and technical issues
that are going to be facing us as the electorate and we need to
deal with them. Otherwise, a technological elite will develop
that will decide those issues for all of us.
Valerie Ackerman, president of the Women's National Basketball
vital for the president to communicate leadership. People expect
to be led. They expect to be inspired. They want to see the tone
set from the top. We as a people have tremendous capacities, tremendous
resources and strengths. The idea of giving back by volunteering
is a responsibility that all of us have. The government should
be exhorting all of us to think of ways to give, to make our communities
better, to make our cities stronger.