Women’s History Month Celebration: The Increasing Role of Women in Political Reform, Human Rights
and Cultural Awareness, Thursday, March 16, 2017
On Tuesday, March 16, 2017, AAFSW held its ninth annual Women’s History Month panel discussion entitled “The Increasing Role of Women in Political Reform, Human Rights and Cultural Awareness.” First, AAFSW offered a wonderful reception to all its guests. After that, many Ambassadors, AAFSW Board Members, AAFSW Members, and AAFSW guests attended a stimulating program which featured three accomplished women who have contributed to advancing women’s causes in important ways.
The first speaker was her Excellency Ambassador Vlora Çitaku of the Republic of Kosovo, who was a refugee during the Kosovo War and has been involved with politics since 1999. She stated that Kosovo, although a young democracy, has overcome many preconceptions of the past. Nowadays, at least 30% of the members of parliament in Kosovo have to be women. Ambassador Çitaku was only a teenager when she became interpreter and a stringer for major western news outlets at the onset of the Kosovo civil war. She became a Member of Parliament in two mandates and recently, she served as the Consul General of Kosovo in New York.
The second presenter was Ms. Betsy McKinney, Founder and CEO of It’s Time to Network, who is an accomplished writer, speaker, philanthropist, and social entrepreneur from San Francisco. Mrs. McKinney explained that It’s Time Network is a growing community of people and organizations working to achieve gender equality, evolve democracy, and build fair economies that regenerate the earth. She mentioned that in May of 2016, It’s Time Network published the first ever Mayor’s Guide: Accelerating Gender Equality©. Ms. McKinney let the audience know about her international work and her efforts in joining forces with other women around the world to help inspire young girls in becoming leaders in their own communities.
The last panelist was Ms. Jan Du Plain, who is the President/CEO of Du Plain Enterprises, Inc. As many of us in the audience readily understood, Ms. Du Plain has the ability to connect just the right person with just the right talent to make just the right contribution.
Ms. Du Plain began her career on her father’s award-winning weekly newspaper in California followed by a stint at a well-known literary agency in Hollywood, representing authors, screenwriters and actors for motion picture companies. In the early 70’s, she served as the first official public relations director of historic Ford’s Theater, followed by 15 years as the public relations director for WETA TV and Radio, the third largest public broadcasting station in the United States. In 1995, she opened Du Plain Enterprises, Inc, an international PR and special events company that represents a variety of media and cultural organizations. She served on the executive team which launched Cultural Tourism DC’s (Ctdc) inaugural PASSPORT DC, a month city-wide cultural celebration of Washington’s international and diplomatic community and continues in the role of Embassy Liaison today. She recruits the 15 embassies to participate in the Embassy Chef Challenge, which this year will take place in May. As Ms. Du Plain explained, the Department of State is a strategic partner and PASSPORT DC is now listed as one of the most popular events in the nation’s capital by Events USA. Ms. Du Plain let us also know that she also currently serves as the Embassy Liaison for the Ronald Reagan Building & International Trade Center, participating in the 300 international events that are mandated by congress annually. Obviously, with Ms. Du Plain’s help, alliances are forged and progress is made.
Dr. Joanna Athanasopoulos Owen