More than 300 friends and supporters gathered for Concern Worldwide’s annual Women of Concern Awards Luncheon on June 3 at the Hilton Hotel in New York. This year’s honorees were Loretta Brennan Glucksman, chairperson of the American Ireland Fund, and Beth A. Brooke, global vice chair—public policy, sustainability and stakeholder engagement at Ernst & Young.

The women were recognized for their contributions to public service, and their efforts to empower women throughout the world. Glucksman received the 2009 Woman of the Year Humanitarian Award, while Brooke earned the 2009 Woman of the Year Leadership Award. They were each presented with contemporary handmade sculptures carved out of 4,500-year-old Irish bog oak. Lynda Baquero, WNBC-New York news anchor, served as emcee.

Prior to the award ceremony, Joanne Smyth, Concern’s new assistant country director in Rwanda, riveted the audience with an account of her two years in the Democratic Republic of Congo, speaking of the courage and resilience of women displaced by conflict, many of whom have been victims of sexual violence. 

“Displacement,” she said, “is a nice word—but what it actually means is that you have to run from your home, abandoning all you own.” Support for Concern, said Smyth, makes it possible for mothers to learn trades and earn income. Smyth cited one mother as saying, “Now I don’t have to go begging anymore; now I can feed my family.”