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PRESS PHOTO BY EMILY THIEL Pamela Varkony talks with members of T.R.I.A.D. PRESS PHOTO BY EMILY THIEL Pamela Varkony talks with members of T.R.I.A.D.

T.R.I.A.D. Pamela Varkony talks about empowering women

Wednesday, January 23, 2013 by EMILY THIEL Special to the Press in Local News

Nationally recognized journalist, commentator, speaker and Allentown resident Pamela Varkony spoke at the Jan. 8 T.R.I.A.D. meeting on the topic of empowering women throughout the world.

Varkony is extremely involved in politics and the community, serving on the board of the Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce, the Allentown City Planning Commission, the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission and Allentown City Council. She was recently appointed to the Pennsylvania Commission for Women.

Stating that women around the world really need help, Varkony is motivated to "move women forward" through empowerment.

"Women are coming to their own and showing they can be leaders," Varkony said.

Varkony founded "The Power of Women" which is an initiative focused on helping women throughout the world through education, networking and mentoring in order to help them achieve their goals.

Through her organization, she is dedicated to assisting women throughout the world to become independent, self-sufficient and successful.

Varkony said women are starting to earn higher ranks in combat positions and are showing tremendous amounts of courage.

"It's inspiring to see women in combat roles," Varkony said.

"Women drive domestic spending and can change the world," Varkony explained, while using a slideshow presentation. "They globally control $20 trillion in spending and represent $13 trillion in annual earnings."

Women are making their marks as leaders, as other countries like Ireland, Germany, Thailand and Brazil have all had women leaders.

"Women in the developing world are stepping forward to make their voices heard," Varkony said.

"It takes a tremendous amount of courage to be in a Third World county," Varkony said from her travel experiences.

Varkony has traveled to Afghanistan where she is especially interested in women's roles and expressed concern for women in other countries who have it more difficult than women in America.

Varkony shared her experiences within the country with the senior group, both through photographs and stories.

"There are tens of thousands of orphans. The children are on their own, they live on the streets," Varkony said.

American military bases serve as a type of safe-haven, where the soldiers feed the orphans, and get them school supplies and soccer balls from relatives and friends back home.

Sharing a photograph she took of an Afghan corner store, she explained they consume a lot of soda, leading to many dental problems in the country, and purchase propane tanks for cooking that aren't properly filled or fastened, leading to common house fires.

Varkony shared that in Afghanistan, everyone carries a gun, all warlords have private militias, running water, hot food is a gift and medical help is difficult to find. Women do not go out unescorted, young girls wear traditional outfits, while young boys can be dressed in very American style clothes. The country is full of contrast, as there is much poverty, war, violence but also beautiful farms and lush rolling hills. Because of the warlike territories, the country is heavily mined.

Varkony met with a very young boy who had stepped on a mine. The Shriner's Hospital for Children in Philadelphia donated a fixator for his leg. Binney and Smith donated crayons for Varkony to share with the children, who had never seen crayons before. It took around an hour for the kids to realize the crayon boxes were not going to cause injury.

Microloans, from private sectors, can help women get a start, allowing them to support their families and villages. Cultural shifts are beginning through awareness, as women are beginning to participate and protest.

"There is always something we can do, someone we can reach out to through donation, advice and help," Varcony said.

For more information on Varkony and her organizations, visit pamelavarkony.com.