By Margarita Sophia Cortes
Last month in New York City, Women’s eNews held their annual 21 Leaders for the 21st Century and it was a night of celebration for a diverse group of honorees, all fearless leaders who are committed to advancing gender equality throughout the world.
Women’s eNews is an award-winning nonprofit news service covering issues of particular concern to women and providing women’s perspectives on public policy. Their annual gala was held on May 6th at NYC’s 101 Club. Here is the full list of honorees.
One of the 2019 honorees included our very own NYWIFT Executive Director, Cynthia Lopez, whose extensive leadership roles have spanned two decades.
“Women have repeatedly earned their rightful place in our society, government, media and the economy. Their recent electoral victories in Congress serve as an inspiration to women in all areas of the film and television industry who are standing up for gender equity, equal pay, and safer work environments. I am primed for the challenges that lay ahead of us, while also galvanized by the secured victories, and look forward to developing new initiatives in support of women working in media.”
– Cynthia Lopez
During the evening, each honoree was asked the same question: “How can women change the world?” Each response was filled with emotion, inspiration and determination. We would like to share with you Cynthia Lopez’s insightful response:
Question: How can women change the world?
Cynthia Lopez: By never forgetting the past, the political gains won and accepting the precarious position of not exactly knowing what path lies ahead. When I was a child my mother took me to my first live performance and it was about Harriet Tubman– Underground Railroad. I was so upset at her – “I wanted to see the show girls,” I said. She laughed, and said, “there will be enough time for that but for now it is important you understand what the women in history have done to afford you a space today.” By the end of the play I cried with fear at how brave Harriet Tubman was and how she risked her own life to fight for the freedom of others.
Later I learned about Luisa Capetillo, the first Puerto Rican woman who was imprisoned three times before women in Puerto Rico were allowed to wear pants. She then went on to fight for more important causes including labor rights. I met Grace Lee Boggs and she had the strength of a hawk battling high-end winds in a relentless pursuit to fight against political injustice.
Recently, I watched a film titled Warrior Women, which taught me about Madonna Thunder Hawk, a Native American woman who was short on cash and food for her own family but instead of focusing on her limitations she built a community school where everyone learned about Native American history and traditional culture from their elders. They cooked together and shared the little bits of foods to educate and nourish the entire community.
Women can change the world by learning from the mistakes and the successes of these women. Harriet Tubman, Luisa Capetillo, Grace Lee Boggs, and Madonna Thunderhawk used the power of their convictions as a political sword and changed the world one decision at a time.
Today, how can women change the world? By ensuring that we show love to our daughters, to our sisters, co-workers, our allies and sometimes even our enemies. We must ensure that women’s stories are shared, passed down and discussed in detail so the next generation of girls understands what our ancestors have done to create a space and the political rights that we deserve.
A special heartfelt thank you to Loreen Arbus, Abby Disney, Lori Sokol, James Grant and the entire team at Women’s eNews for this incredible distinction. — Cynthia Lopez
Journalist and author Charlayne Hunter-Gault began her career as a reporter to The New Yorker, where she still contributes, and was the Harlem bureau chief for The New York Times. She worked for 20 years with PBS NewsHour where she was a national and international correspondent as well as a substitute anchor.READ MORE
NYWIFT member Cait Cortelyou has performed on stage or film since childhood but makes a breakthrough debut as producer (and star) of Ask for Jane, which screens at the NYWIFT Member Screening Series on November 19th. Cait sat down with us to discuss how a slice of women's history inspired her to make her producing debut, and what opportunities she sees for women working in the industry today.READ MORE
Rita Moreno’s career has spanned over seventy years and is one of few EGOT artists, as she has won multiple Emmys, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony. She shows no signs of slowing down, recently appearing in Jane the Virgin, One Day at a Time, Carmen Sandiego, and will be Valentina in the 2020 remake of West Side Story.READ MORE
Dawn Ostroff is currently the Chief Content Officer of Spotify, and leads all aspects of the streaming service's content partnerships across music, audio and video. When we honored Ostroff at the Muse Awards in 2014, she was President of Condé Nast Entertainment, and had held senior roles at 20th Century Fox Television, Michael Jacobs Productions, and the Kushner-Locke Company.READ MORE