The worldwide achievements of women in diplomacy, journalism, music and education brought and international audience to Constitution Hall yesterday afternoon as the National Council of Negro Women saluted more than a dozen women achievers ranging from public celebrities, such as Washington singing star Stacy Lattisaw, to behind-the-scenes achievers like Madame Biyemi Kekeh, the United Nations delegate from Togo.
Questions about the status of women brought sharp replies. Mitsuko Shimomura, the first full-time Japanese foreign correspondent and one of the day's honorees, said Japanese and American women share many of the same problems. "Most of the country is male-dominated, but I think Japan is really one of the most backward countries in comparison to the U.S. -- an industrial giant but very backward compared even with Asia and Africa. In some ways it is better but when it comes to putting women in higher positions there are still not very many," said Shimomura. Her job as a foreign correspondent for the newspaper Asahi Shimbun is still the exception but she was encouraged by her husband and incorporated the old rule of working harder to lessen criticism. She worked, she said, "three or four times harder, so your work becomes visible so no man can say you're inferior."
Nearly 750 people attended the program, where pianist Hazel Scott was the afternoon's emcee.