An evening with Rose Styron benefits Martha’s Vineyard nonprofit

Rose Styron remembers the day that Martin Luther King was killed. — File photo by CK Wolfson

Rose Styron bursts with the eager enthusiasm of an eight-year old who wants to find out how the world works and how she can make it better.

She is a delight, and the fact that the Island organization Women Empowered has enticed Ms. Styron to speak at its fundraiser next week, on July 11 at the Harbor View Hotel in Edgartown, is a coup of the first order.

Ms. Styron is knowledgeable, amusing, and alive with ideas, insight, and inspiration. Her upcoming talk will focus on empowered women she has known around the world through the years. She will speak about organizations she has supported and encouraged as a means to empower women. Her talk is an appropriate complement to the Martha’s Vineyard nonprofit Women Empowered, which has helped hundreds of women and men on the Vineyard build confidence and develop effective life skills over the past twelve years.

Ms. Styron was one of the founders of the American group of Amnesty International, in 1970. Its current campaign targets Native American women who are raped and have no recourse, due to tribal statutes.

For her, human rights morphed into women’s rights over the years. She speaks highly of Aung San Suu Kyi, who was held for 15 years as a political prisoner under house arrest in Burma. She is involved with international human rights advocacy groups, such as Equality Now, which support women in issues such as discrimination and abuse in under-developed countries.

Among the prestigious American women she admires are Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama, whose biographies epitomize a woman’s struggle in a man’s world. Of Clinton and Obama, Ms. Styron says, “Both these women are helping to empower women. They used their First Ladyship to do wonderful stuff.” Ms. Styron is an active voice and a visible participant in the ongoing efforts to seek equality for women.

Internationally, women’s leadership efforts are also defined by the roles of Mary Robinson, the first female president of Ireland, and Michelle Bachelet, former president of Chile.

On a more local level, Ms. Styron cites Charlayne Hunter-Gault who speaks of one woman’s effort to contend with racial and gender discrimination. Another local woman, Nancy Parrish, founded Protect Our Defenders, an organization that addresses abuse of women in the military. Ms. Styron enthusiastically celebrates the work of these women and the organizations they founded and represent.

Many of these organizations focus on teaching life skills, as does our local Women Empowered, which encourages development of healthy life choices and fosters necessary life skills for women and men on the Vineyard.

It’s no surprise that the primary issue that brings clients to Women Empowered is financial management. Other important issues clients face are job-related. Facilitator coaches can help clients write resumes, practice interview techniques, and prepare to find employment. The facilitators of Women Empowered work with clients using resource materials to promote good decision-making, time management, and organizational skills.

Facilitators include a cadre of committed volunteers who bring career skills from their professional worlds to the Women Empowered team. The facilitators meet regularly to support one another and assist in their work with clients, just as Ms. Styron travels nationally and internationally to promote broader efforts for equity and human rights.

An Evening with Rose Styron, Wednesday, July 11, 6–8 pm, Harbor View Hotel, Edgartown. Call 508 696-8880 to make a reservation for the talk and reception to follow in a private dining room at the Harbor View Hotel. Admission of $125 is tax deductible. For more information on Women Empowered, visit

Tom Dresser, of Oak Bluffs, is a writer. His latest book is “Disaster off Martha’s Vineyard: The Sinking of the City of Columbus.”