Our 21 Leaders for the 21st Century annual gala is tonight. The catalytic activism that is at the heart of the event–and at the core of Women’s eNews’ mission–are personified by a special reader named Betsy Warrior who will also take a bow.

Rita Henley Jensen

(WOMENSENEWS)–Tonight is the sixth annual Women’s eNews 21 Leaders for the 21st Century gala held at the Tavern in the Green in New York City’s Central Park.

As in years past, we will be honoring 21 people who are significantly helping to make this a better, safer, more equitable planet on which to be a woman.

The entire staff and board are all very excited about tonight’s gala; imagine being in the room with so many dynamic and committed leaders.

This year, one very special person is heightening the thrill for me. I will meet for the first time someone whom I have considered a friend for more than 30 years.

Way back in the 1970s, I was a student at Ohio State University in Columbus, raising two daughters on my own. I was part of an organization known as the Single Mothers Support Group. Our members had put up posters around campus seeking recruits and, almost as an afterthought, along the bottom, the poster mentioned that the group offered emergency shelter.

We were quickly overwhelmed by women escaping family violence and in over our heads.

Things only began to get better after I stumbled across a small item in Ms., saying that a woman in Massachusetts had established a battered women’s shelter. Betsy Warrior’s address was given for more information.

I got a thick packet by return mail and today the group we helped get underway–now known as Sojourner House–assists more than 10,000 women and families each year in Central Ohio.

Mentor Returns as a Reader

Betsy Warrior and I got back in touch when I noticed the word warrior in a subscriber’s e-mail address. Once again I wrote and once again she responded.

She will be joining us tonight, taking a bow and being thanked by the entire room for the work she did way back then and continues to do.

Warrior’s catalytic activism is at the core of the power Women’s eNews unleashes.

Imagine all the women who have been inspired to do more because they read or heard about the work of the Women’s eNews 21 Leaders of the 21 Century through our e-mailed news or by visiting our Web site. It’s what I call the Betsy Warrior effect.

Three hundred of our readers will be at the event tonight. I wish all of you could be there; it is a thrilling occasion. All you will be able, however, to watch the gala’s live interviews of the Women’s eNews 21 Leaders next month when we post the video on our site and maybe even YouTube.

You will be able to see that our event is dedicated to honoring those who take a stand to improve women’s lives and providing them the opportunity to be heard–and perhaps imitated–around the world.

Our Interests Are Not Served

Women’s eNews exists because other news media simply do not serve our interests in this way.

Example: A recent look at the Washington Post commentary page, the must-read by our nation’s policy makers, found that women were a mere 1 in 10 of contributors.

Example: A former Glamour editor, Ruth Davis Konigsberg, found that, on average, women write one article for every three by men in the Atlantic, Harper’s, the New York Times Magazine, the New Yorker and Vanity Fair.

Example: The Project for Excellence in Journalism found in 2005 that more than three quarters of all news stories contain male sources, while only a third of stories contain even a single female source. The data were drawn from an examination of 16,800 news stories across 45 news outlets during 20 randomly selected days over nine months. The disparity held true across newspapers, cable, network news and the online world.

Example, and this is my favorite: Researchers have found that only 2.7 percent of sampled news stories focused on women on weekdays and 3 percent focused on women on Sunday.

Exclusion Systematic and Worldwide

This systematic exclusion of women as managers, sources, commentators and focus of the news is worldwide. The statistics swing a bit from nation to nation, yet the overall picture remains the same: We are not being heard, our leaders are ignored or mocked, and our issues are not being addressed.

This is the opportunity Women’s eNews seizes. As a global news service, we spread the word across the globe documenting and explaining the special concerns of women, covering the debates pro and con over crucial issues affecting our lives and highlighting the exciting leaders who address our concerns.

We have more than 300,000 visitors to our Web site each month and 40,000 subscribers who forward our news far and wide and along the way we have won 26 awards for our journalism.

To further our reach, we developed Arabic Women’s eNews. Its readership doubled in the last year, reaching women living under some of the world’s most repressive regimes.

Two weeks ago, I received this e-mail from Nadia Al-Sakkaf, publisher and editor in chief of the Yemen Times, asking for permission to reprint our news story "Women Put Their Mark on MidEast Peace Efforts."

"We feel that we could send a message to the Yemeni women to take part and ownership in their struggle for freedom and justice," Al-Sakkaf wrote.

This is what I call the Betsy Warrior effect. And I believe it happens every day. We are making Internet history and, perhaps with the help of women like Warrior and Al-Sakkaf, reshaping the world.

Women’s eNews welcomes your comments. E-mail us at [email protected].

For more information:

21 Leaders for the 21st Century 2007:

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