The Great Women Sculpture Initiative Launched by Women Leaders at Inaugural Roundtable

The Great Womens Sculpture Initiative is a powerful new project to create a modern visual mythology celebrating women’s leadership in human rights, civil rights and women’s rights.

The Metro NY Chapter of the US National Committee for UN Women was proud to host a roundtable discussion on Power, Art and Women for the launch of the Great Women Sculpture Initiative  (GWSI). Dr Jennifer J. Raab, President of Hunter College, co-hosted this significant event that took place at the Roosevelt House on December 10, the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights led by Eleanor Roosevelt at the United Nations. The roundtable was honored by the presence of Kate Whitney and Laura Whitney Thomas from the Roosevelt family.

An important function of the arts is to inspire and serve as a window into culture, history and values. GWSI’s co-founders, Sabin Howard, Traci L. Slatton and Desiree Watson, plan to tell a story of women’s leadership by significantly changing the way historical women are portrayed in public spaces.  Eleanor Roosevelt, Coretta Scott King and other notable women will be sculpted in dynamic, expansive, and empowered positions. World renowned sculptor Sabin Howard who is commissioned to do the National World War 1 Memorial in Washington DC listened intently to each of the women leaders around the table to deepen his vision of a majestic monument in bronze that strongly represents powerful and empowered women.    

Eleven prominent women leaders discussed female archetypes, their personal journeys, and identified commonalities that joined them together as women and as leaders. The rich discussion was captured in video for a documentary and will also be part of a book to accompany the announcement of the first statue.  All took inspiration from the great words of Eleanor Roosevelt: “The future belongs to those who believe in the power of their dreams”.

The roundtable was moderated by Judith H. Whittlesey, Executive Vice President at Susan Davis International, a global public relations and communications company. Whittlesey has served as an advisor to many memorial and museum projects.

The diverse group of accomplished, thoughtful and powerful women around the table included: Isatou Bittaye, graduate student at CUNY and youth leader, Women Deliver; Charlotte Bunch, Founding Director and Senior Scholar, at the Center for Women's Global Leadership, Rutgers University, Blanche Wiesen Cook, Eleanor Roosevelt historian and Distinguished Professor of History and Women’s Studies at John Jay College of Criminal Justice; Jacqueline Ebanks, Executive Director, NYC Commission on Gender Equity; Patricia Hayot, Head of School, The Chapin school, Beverly Cooper Neufeld, Founder/President of PowHerNY; Michelle Paige, Founder and President, MRP Global Relations; Deloris Thomas, Vice President, The Joseph Center® Forest Park, Ill; Gwen Pier, Executive Director of the National Sculpture Society and Soon-Young Yoon, Board Chair, Women’s Economic and Development Organization and UN Representative, the International Alliance of Women.

The women around the table spoke eloquently about the need for the GWSI to capture the image of women’s power and responsibility; women’s inner strength and spirituality; women’s rights and ability to control their own bodies, women’s agency to decide what to do with one’s own life; and were inspired by the image of women working together holding hands across the generations. Their common hope is that the GWSI will boldly portray women’s power and recognize their contributions in preserving and defending our fundamental human rights and freedoms for generations to come.

For more information on the Great Women Sculpture Initiative, please visit; contact Traci Slatton at     

The Metropolitan New York Chapter of the US National Committee for UN Women is a not for profit organization whose role is to support UN Women’s mission of  women’s empowerment and gender equality through advocacy, education and fundraising.   For UN Women-Metro NY media inquiries, please contact:

The Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute is an integral part of Hunter College and dedicated to educate students in public policy and human rights, to support faculty research and to foster creative dialogue.

(Written by Mary M. Luke, President, USNC for UN Women Metro NY Chapter)

Taylor Wells Maberry