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One month – not long enough to honor women leaders

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By Dana Campbell Saylor

We honor “Women and Leadership” each year in March during Women’s History Month; however, from my perspective, that is just the beginning. We simply can no longer afford to overlook the importance of women’s leadership the remainder of the year!

More than ever before, we are recognizing the important role of women’s leadership, the unique skill set and perspective women bring to the table – skills, viewpoints and expertise that are desperately needed at the table and on the world stage. A growing body of evidence indicates that women’s leadership in key positions around the world contributes to making and keeping peace and, in turn, leads to better outcomes (lives) for entire societies. Hilary Clinton noted that we have seen firsthand what happens when women participate in the peace process. They focus discussion on issues of human rights, economic renewal, justice and national reconciliation that are critical to making peace, but these issues are often overlooked in formal negotiations. What that means to me is that women bring a social justice component and nurturing ethical values to negotiations.

Women build coalitions across ethnic lines, act as mediators and help foster compromise. When women respond in large numbers, they galvanize opinion and help change history forever. A recent example is the reaction to the Susan G. Koman decision to stop funding for Planned Parenthood. A high percentage of Latino women and girls depend on Planned Parenthood for potentially lifesaving breast examination and treatment services. The “sisterhood” responded fast and furiously. Sisters from all backgrounds raised their voices, if not for themselves, then for those that would be penalized through no fault of their own. My perspective is that our nation’s government should be balanced to reflect our citizenry – 50 percent women and 50 percent men in Congress and government agencies – an equitable balance.

Women who are leaders are often mentors and role models as well. I congratulate Latino Perspectives Magazine’s 2012 Arizona Latina Trailblazers, women I personally know to be great leaders. Former State Senator Amanda Aguirre, Anna Maria Chavez, Esq., the Honorable Elizabeth Archuleta and Terri Cruz are true leaders who mentor and have raised the bar of expertise. Each Trailblazer has given selflessly, pushed forward and provided strength; they have offered their expertise, but have also shared their hearts. 

Women’s History Month is a true celebration of many incredible women who have challenged the status quo, pioneered new ideas and helped women get to where we are at this point in time. It is our responsibility to continue their legacy and pass on rich opportunities to younger generations of women and men. 

Dana Campbell Saylor is chief executive officer of YWCA Maricopa County, which was established in Arizona in 1912. She has a degree in Women’s Studies from Arizona State University. She is currently chair of the board of trustees of the Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits, board chair of the YWCA Pacific Region, and is a member of several nonprofit boards and advisory groups, such as the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, the Governor’s Advisory Council on Aging, and the ASU West Campus Community Board. She was the recipient of the 2010 West Valley Mover and Shaker Award, 2009 Golden Heart Award (presented by Arizona Women’s Magazine and the Arizona Republic), and, in 2011, was inducted into the Phoenix Union Alumni Hall of Fame.

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