Rep. Lee Takes Women’s Rights Cause To D.C. Conference

Wednesday - May 31, 2006
By Kerry Miller
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Rep. Marilyn Lee
Rep. Marilyn Lee

State Rep. Marilyn Lee, on a mission of human rights awareness, heads off this week for an inaugural GlobalPower conference of the Center For Women Policy Studies.

The May 31-June 3 conference Washington, D.C., is focused on the international trafficking of women and girls. The lawmaker for Mililani and Mililani Mauka was among 14 elected women leaders from 10 countries selected to participate.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to meet with women from all over the world,” Lee said. “It’s something I’ve been interested in in the past. I’m really excited about it.”

The delegates will meet with Paula Bobriansky, undersecretary of state for global affairs, and John Miller, director of the Traffic and Persons office at the U.S. Department of State. The group will also dine with ambassadors from all participating nations.

They will watch Vienna Tribunal, a Canadian film on human rights, and discuss anti-trafficking work, how to address interrelated, competing interests, and how to bring the issue to center stage in the Legislature.

They also will work on establishing international agreements to support anti-trafficking policies and generating public awareness, and seek ways to keep delegate partnerships going to support future efforts.

On the local front, Lee noted, Hawaii recently passed a bill to create an anti-trafficking task force to address how state laws can be changed to handle issues of employment and sex trafficking. In most cases, she explained, state (law) doesn’t really complement federal law.

On a personal level, Lee is appreciative of “the opportunity to understand how women in other countries feel.

“I’ve lived abroad and enjoy the chance to study and travel, to continue to build my knowledge on global issues.” The wife of a retired diplomat, she also is curious about how other countries are working to change their state laws and how they deal with immigration and relationships between trafficking and illegal immigration.

“In Hawaii we are at a crossroads,” Lee said.“Whatever we do locally is relevant on the global level.”

The Center for Women Policy Studies is a non-profit, multiethnic feminist policy research and advocacy institution that identifies and addresses cutting-edge issues that impact women and girls.

Other conference delegates are You Ay, secretary of state, from Phnom Penh, Cambodia; Donna Boe, Idaho state representative; Gonzalez Carrillo, federal congresswoman from Mexico; Joyce Elliott, Arkansas state representative; Najima Heptulla, member of parliament from New Delhi, India; Thokozani Khupe, member of parliament from Bulawayo, Zimbabwe; Jeanne E. Kohl-Welles, state senator from Washington, D.C.; Lediana Mafuru Mng`ong`o, member of parliament for Iringa, Tanzania; Christine Muttonen, member of parliament for Vienna, Austria; Lali Papiashvili, member of parliament for Tbilisi, Georgia; Andrea L. Stillman, Connecticut state senator; Eva Kusuma Sundari, House of Representatives member for South Jakarta, Indonesia and Birute Vesaite, member of parliament from Kaunas, Lithuania.

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