Conference Empowers Area Women

The twentieth annual Massachusettts Conference on Women was held on December 6, 2012 from 7:30 AM to 5 PM at the World Trade Center on Summer St. behind Boston’s South Station. The event focused on educating women about their health issues; how to start or improve a business; and how they can empower themselves, their friends, and family financially, educationally, emotionally, and physically.

In the early part of the day most of the local hospitals had a representative on hand to give information on women’s health. Later on that was left to companies promoting some useful, interesting, and even silly products. Several companies who stayed for the entire event promoted organic products like hair- and skin-care products made from Moroccan nuts that are turned into oils and; a contest for a freezer full of food; and another contest for a freezer full of GHS-free meat.

There was a career advice area to the side to help women with their résumés and to answer their questions about. A mammography van was parked near the career area. Across from them were booths for most of the nearby colleges—Simmons, LaSalle, Emmanuel, Berkeley, Wentworth, Cambridge College, and others.

The World Trade Center was packed with all sorts of different women: homeless and housed, professional businesswomen some the unemployed. Connie Smith—the Creative Expressions Coordinator at Women’s Lunch Place—and Arianna Huffington—the head of The Huffington Post—both received awards for their work in helping women locally and around the world. Connie received the Be the Change Award. Barbara Bradley-Baekgaard and Patricia R. Miller also received an award for founding the Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer. When receiving the award Bradley-Baekgaard gave a short history of how and why she and Miller started the foundation.

Afterwards there was a surprise appearance by opera star and actress Kristin Chenoweth, who is best known for being on Glee and The West Wing and for voicing one of the characters on You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown. She sang a song and told the assembled crowd about how she became an opera singer. Like many singers she started off singing in church and school, but she wasn’t that good at it. However, she kept at it until she found her niche singing opera music. People were surprised when she started singing; we figured the only music we’d hear during the day would pumped in through the PA, but she was a welcome surprise.

Throughout the day there were several workshop sessions and booths filled with information. The Expert Exchange session after lunch gave participants advice on how to improve their résumés and listed 10 Tips for Turning Your Hobby Blog into a Paying Job. Mike Ambassador Bruny started the session off, while Maggie Battista ended it talking about her online baking company. Participants were inspired by Battista’s story of how long she’s been doing her job, how she got started, and how they could do the same things she’s done.

The Massachusettts Conference on Women showed women from all different backgrounds coming together to lift each other up in a peaceful and united way. Gay, transgender, queer, straight, middle-class, homeless, Black, White, Latina, Asian and other different types of women were all friendly and supportive of one another, as if we were all sisters from the same family.

Beatrice Bell is a vendor and a writer for Spare Change News.

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