By SUE SUCHYTA
DEARBORN – The American Association of University Women – Dearborn chapter, whose mission is to empower women and girls, celebrated its 90th anniversary Sept. 16 with a luncheon at Park Place Banquet Center.
Michigan Chief Deputy Attorney General Fadwa Hammoud, a longtime Dearborn resident, delivered the keynote address, with past AAUW – Dearborn president Judy Buck delivering the anniversary address, which covered highlights of the group’s history.
Other speakers included Mayor Abdullah Hammoud, state Sen. Sylvia Santana (D-2nd District) and AAUW – Michigan President Sheila Blair.
AAUW member Val Murphy Goodrich provided commentary on the 1956 Dodge Le Femme, a Chrysler female-centric car parked in front of the banquet center for the occasion, which is owned by her husband, Steve Goodrich.
Abdullah Hammoud gave a mayoral citation to the local AAUW chapter in honor of its 90th anniversary.
Blair, who elaborated on the AAUW’s mission to empower women and girls, said that included equity for women, as well as equal pay, safety, Title IX (which prohibits sex-based discrimination in any school or education program receiving federal funding), access to health care and women being able to make decisions about their bodies.
She said the AAUW provides her with encouragement from other women.
“I was so happy to have finally found that, that at the end of that first year of membership I became a life member, because I said ‘I want this all the time.’” Blair said. “I was so happy to have found it and I loved knowing that I was doing some good in the world.”
She said she is proud of the scholarships the group provides for women, as well as the role the AAUW takes in fighting for the right for women to make their own decisions at both the state and federal level.
“It’s a sad situation that in 2023 we still have to be doing that, but that just means our job isn’t over,” Blair said. “Even if women were given equal rights today, there are other groups that we also need to fight for.”
She said she doesn’t see the work of the AAUW ending any time soon.
Santana echoed the sentiment and noted how important it is to pave the path forward for young people.
Fadwa Hammoud, a longtime Dearborn resident, said during the keynote address that celebrating 90 years of empowering women and girls and advocating for gender equality is inspiring.
She mentioned the top three tenacious women in state government, which she said would have been unfathomable just a few years ago.
“These broken barriers are a major achievement for gender equity,” she said. “Young girls can look up to women across this nation and believe that they really can be whatever they want to be.”
She said the AAUW members’ job is to make that belief a reality and to transform broken barriers into a systemic fix, so today’s children will see women in leadership roles as the norm and no longer the exception.
Fadwa Hammoud, who immigrated from Lebanon as an 11-year-old, praised Rosa Scaramucci, AAUW – Dearborn chapter vice president of administration, who was an encouraging teacher to her.
Buck, who thanked Hammoud for her inspirational words, followed her with the 90th anniversary address.
She spoke of going through numerous boxes at the Dearborn Historical Museum to learn more about the history of the Dearborn AAUW chapter.
Buck said that in 1933, the College Club of Fordson reorganized to become the Dearborn branch of the AAUW.
“Their mission was and is to advance gender equity for women and girls through research, education and advocacy,” she said. “As I began to research our archive, I realized all the hard work, time and effort put forth by numerous branch members over nine decades in a concerted, ongoing effort to achieve our mission.”