N.Y. Women's Conference to Mobilize, Protect 'Backbone of Society'

A three-day gathering will be held this weekend to mobilize women to tackle the issues of HIV/AIDS, debt, global poverty, parenting and spiritual empowerment.

After kicking off with a concert featuring award-winning Gospel artist Martha Munizzi, the Manifest Destiny 2008 Conference also aims to encourage good mental, spiritual, physical and financial health of women through workshops and through networking.

"Women of color have been disproportionately affected by everything from AIDS to abuse, cancer to coronary disease," explained Dr. Barbara Austin Lucas, executive director of the conference's presenter - Women Organizing, Mobilizing and Building (WOMB).

"It is high time that we mobilize," she added in a news release.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, women have been affected by HIV/AIDs since the beginning of the epidemic, but the impact on women has grown over time.

"Women of color, particularly Black women, have been especially hard hit and represent the majority of new HIV and AIDS cases among women, and the majority of women living with the disease," it states in its HIV/AIDS policy fact sheet, updated this past May.

Furthermore, as the International Women's Health Coalition has noted, one in three women around the world will be raped, beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime.

In her comments, WOMB's Lucas highlighted the need to educate and protect women.

"Women have historically been the backbone of society," she stated. "If the core is compromised how can the community stand?"

The Manifest Destiny Conference, sponsored by Sisterhood Agenda, will be held the weekend of July 11-13 at the Brooklyn Marriott in New York.

It ends on Sunday with a service and the Destiny Awards Brunch honoring dedicated women of faith from across the region and the country.

On the Web: More information at www.wombinc.org