21 Leaders for the 21st Century

Tonight, We Honor 21 Who Lead Us toward Equality

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Rita Henley Jensen pauses the news delivery to tell the ongoing story of Women's eNews and reflect on tonight's annual celebration of 21 honorees, leaders in the battle for safety, equality and freedom for girls and women.




Rita Jensen and Betsy Chandler at 21 Leaders for the 21st CenturyNEW YORK (WOMENSENEWS)--Tonight is Women's eNews' big night, our annual gala celebrating 21 leaders committed to improving the lives of women and girls and raising the funds necessary for Women's eNews to continue delivering the news.

Each day, I read our daily news story before it is ready to be posted and sometimes my breath is taken away. A reporter's command of the facts, depth of research, connection with the interview subjects and compelling use of language can all inspire this. I feel humbled as well; grateful that my work results in the journalism Women's eNews reporters and editors produce.

It's been a great year for Women's eNews. Our growing readership is now about 100,000 readers a day. We were honored to receive About.com's 2012 Readers' Choice Award for Favorite Women's Rights Blog or Website. Coverage of women throughout the Middle East post-Arab Spring continues to be a strong suit and reaches an expanding audience of Arabic-speaking women through our Arabic-language sister site, Arabic Women's eNews, which has a new logo and top-notch design.

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Our special series on the costs to women of job segregation and the maternal health of African American women continue to break significant ground, even in the media-saturated United States. Again, I'm humbled and grateful to be involved with this work.

Impossible to Look Away

Recently a reporter and foreign correspondent for a major news operation for more than 20 years posted her comments on the Great Nonprofits Web site about why she values Women's eNews. She said she had written many stories about women's second-class status and abuses for her own news outlets.

"These rarely received front-page play and were often cut or languished on hold for several weeks. Women's eNews has made such dismissive treatment more or less impossible now by creating a steady drumbeat of compelling and well-researched news items about women's situations that editors cannot ignore or dismiss as isolated cases. The grim reality of too many women's lives is often ignored because it is such an integral part of daily reality. This is what Women's eNews spotlights, making it impossible for the world to look away any longer," she wrote.

That's a wonderful way of stating a mission to which our Women's eNews 21 Leaders are central.

After they are named, their biographies are posted on our website and distributed through our social media outlets to reach thousands of readers across the globe. In addition to keeping the eyes of the world on the realities of women's lives, Women's eNews 21 Leaders--individually and combined--serve as models for others to use as a template for effective action.

Women's eNews is dedicated to the ongoing push against barriers to women's safety, economic equality and complete access to reproductive health care. Each of the 21 Leaders--20 women and one man--honored tonight will serve to vividly remind the nearly 300 guests of these wide range of issues that we cover. Their work includes everything from the problems of sports programs for female high school students to the fate of girls and women in the families of Cairo's garbage pickers.

I wish each and every one of you--all 100,000 of our readers--could be with us to meet these incredible dynamos leading the charge for women's rights in the United States, Middle East and Africa.

They are our conductors, guiding us to a time of safety, freedom and equality for girls and women.

Rita Henley Jensen
Editor in Chief

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