SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ - Girls ranging between the ages of early teens to late 20s gathered at the high school early Saturday morning for the 19th Annual Women’s Leadership Conference and Career Pathway.

The South Brunswick Commission on Women presents the Leadership Conference each year.

The commission’s mission statement states: “The Task Force on Women’s Leadership was formed in 1997 for the express purpose of promoting leadership skills to our high school girls. In 2000, the Task Force on Women’s Leadership was renamed the South Brunswick Commission on Women. This new group’s purpose widened to include Domestic Violence Awareness. The South Brunswick Commission on Women is run on a strictly volunteer basis. Its members are appointed by the mayor and granted commissions of varying lengths of time. This event brings together female students as well as adults, and leaders from our community and beyond; all working toward the goal that today’s young women become tomorrow’s leaders.”

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Saturday’s event held by commission, consisted of featured keynote speaker, Hon. Dawn Shanahan, as well as different workshops that girls were able to travel to, to meet and listen to successful women in all different fields of study.

Judge Shanahan, is the presiding judge in the Trenton Worker’s Compensation Court.

“The definition of a feminist is a person who believes that social, political and economical equality of the sexes,” said Shanahan. “ It’s not just women who are feminist. There are many men who believe this as well. Women cannot do it alone. Think of how many fathers, brothers, and other men in our lives who have supported us and encouraged us to go further in our choices. Many shy away from the word feminist. That is because they do not recognize the positive changes they could make. Every country did not move at the same pace toward their equality. Today women in the United States and other Western nations are fighting for compensation equality. While in other parts of the world women are not even allowed to show their faces in public, drive a car, vote, go to school, or even have a job. As a woman I urge you to be inclusive, supportive and non judgmental of the choices others would have made. The future is yours, go anywhere you need to go. You can quite literally be anything you want to be. I applaud you.”

Judge Shanahan received very loud applause from the audience, and gave intellect to many.

“I hoped that this would provide me with more insight as to what successful women do in their daily lives,” said student Kinza Haq. “As high schoolers we are still trying to figure out what we want to do. Getting insight into what they’re doing could be helpful in determining what we want to do with our lives. I am a senior currently, and I will be attending Barnard College in the fall, and I hope to go into law.”

The commission appeared to reach its goal Saturday, by providing young girls with influence and advice for their future careers.

“I have been part of the commission since I have been with the Board of Education,” said Commission and BOE Member, Azra Baig. “These girls should follow anything that they are passionate about. They should work hard, and experience many things and their journey will take them very far.”

The commission was originally the brainchild of former Mayor Debra Johnson and resident Cathy Dowgin.

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