By Alice Chenault
On January 20, Hope Town’s “Cay Topics” series of luncheon lectures for women launched its 2015 season with an inspiring presentation at the Abaco Inn. The speaker was Kathy Bonk, internationally acclaimed activist for women, children, and families.
Ms. Bonk, whose influential work spans three decades, has directed projects in Russia, the Ukraine, Eastern Europe, and Africa, as well as the United States. She graduated from the University of Pittsburg with a degree in Communications, and later founded the Communications Consortium Media Center, whose mission is to foster policy change through effective communications strategies.
Ms. Bonk’s mission is to foster the education and well-being of women and girls, who are commonly victimized by being denied education, forced into early marriages (often as young as age five), and subjected to gender-related violence.
She emphasized that the most important change for girls and women is to escape the role of victim and take up the stance of a successful and self-actualized person.
Ms. Bonk grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, the youngest of four girls. Through the experience of her sisters, she became aware of a cultural bias against women during the mid-twentieth century, particularly in work opportunities, equal pay, and property ownership. This awakening became a strong influence in her life and work.
She emphasizes that providing education and other advantages for women accomplishes much more than merely improving the lives of individual girls. Of the seven billion humans populating the planet, she points out, two billion are under the age of twenty-one. It is these young people who will determine the world’s destiny.
As girls’ education becomes equal with that of boys, these young women will develop goals beyond domestic duties, and come to understand their role in matters of health, conservation, and overpopulation. All humankind stands to benefit from such a cultural change.
What would be Kathy Bonk’s magic-wand wish? “That everybody on earth would wake up every day asking themselves, ‘What can I do today to help a woman?’” She demonstrated this desire by donating to Cay Topics a state-of-the art wireless microphone and speaker system—most gratefully received and put to immediate use.
Following Ms. Bonk’s dynamic address, the eighty women attending enjoyed a fine Abaco Inn meal, prepared and served by Tom Hazel’s professional and friendly staff. Transportation to and from the Abaco Inn was graciously provided by Froggie’s Out Island Adventures.
The next Cay Topics luncheon lecture will be February 17, also at the Abaco Inn. It will feature a presentation by Sidne Maddison, of Medecins Sans Frontiers (Doctors Without Borders). For reservations call the Abaco Inn: 366-0133.