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In Honor of Women’s History Month: NYCLA to Present Edith I. Spivack Award on March 18 to Co-Founder and Executive Director of Equality Now
March 4, 2009 – NEW YORK, NY – On Wednesday, March 18, as part of the New York County Lawyers’ Association’s (NYCLA) Women’s History Month celebration, the 12th Annual Edith I. Spivack Award will be presented to Jessica Neuwirth, co-founder and president of Equality Now, an international human rights group, and Taina Bien- Aimé, the organization’s executive director, at a reception at the NYCLA Home of Law at 14 Vesey Street at 6:00 PM.
Jessica Neuwirth is a co-founder and president of Equality Now, which was established in 1992 to work for an end to all forms of violence and discrimination against women. From 1985 to 1990, she worked for Amnesty International in various capacities, including policy adviser for Amnesty International USA and tour producer for Human Rights Now!, an international concert tour commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Previously, she practiced international corporate law at Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton. As of January 2009, Ms. Neuwirth is on a one-year leave of absence from the presidency of Equality Now to be the director of the New York office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Ms. Neuwirth received her law degree from Harvard Law School.
Taina Bien-Aimé is the executive director of Equality Now. Previously, she practiced international corporate law at Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton and was director of business affairs/film acquisitions at Home Box Office. Ms. Bien-Aimé has contributed essays to Becoming Myself: Reflections on Growing Up Female, edited by Willa Shalit (Hyperion, 2006) and When You Need a Lift…Two Cups of Comfort and Support from Joy Behar and Friends (Crown, 2007). She is also a contributor to The Huffington Post. She received her law degree from NYU School of Law.
Edith I. Spivack (1919-2005)
Edith I. Spivack was the driving force for the establishment of NYCLA’s Women’s Rights Committee in 1972, actively recruiting outstanding women attorneys and playing a significant role in identifying critical areas of discrimination against women. Under her leadership, the committee called attention to discriminatory legal and economic practices, including the disrespectful treatment of women in the courts and the lack of women court officers. Ms. Spivack, who worked for the New York City Department of Law for 70 years, also focused on discrimination against women attorneys in both hiring and promotion, and their exclusion from private clubs, where significant business was conducted.
Ms. Spivack’s concerns extended beyond women in the legal profession. She urged committee members to examine limitations on credit, insurance and residential leasing to women, especially those who were single, divorced and widowed, and also pressed for studies relating to such issues as abuse, child support and custody, and day care facilities.
The award was established to honor Ms. Spivack and mark the 25th anniversary of NYCLA’s Women’s Rights Committee. In 2005, the NYCLA Foundation established the Edith I. Spivack Fund for Women in Law and Society to support programs for women and celebrate the achievements of women, both in the profession and in the larger society.
The New York County Lawyers’ Association (www.nycla.org) was founded in 1908 as the first major bar association in the country that admitted members without regard to race, ethnicity, religion, gender or sexual identity. Since its inception, it has pioneered some of the most far-reaching and tangible reforms in American jurisprudence and has continuously played an active role in legal developments and public policy.
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