Appointee on mission for women

She hopes to start local arm of group

January 23, 2001|By Lisa Breslin | Lisa Breslin,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Westminster resident Naomi Benzil, a member of the Maryland Commission for Women since the fall, is eager to increase participation in the advocacy group in Carroll County and elsewhere.

"Lots of people say why have a commission for women," said Benzil, who was appointed by Gov. Parris N. Glendening to a four-year term. "For those who wonder, I share this philosophy: when the concerns for women are positively addressed, the result is that family life and the economic wellbeing of entire community benefit."

Benzil chairs the Community Partnerships Committee, which has fueled her interest in creating a Carroll group.

Benzil, a Westminster resident since 1962, is married to Dr. Phillip S. Benzil, president of the Maryland State Board of Education. They have three daughters, Sharon, Deborah, and Randy. The former social studies at Carroll high schools also has served as executive director for Carroll County Arts Council.

Before her appointment to the state commission, Benzil completed another member's unfinished term.

"I'd had one year of introduction, and I became aware of the good things the commission accomplishes," Benzil said. "I was so ready to participate more completely."

The Maryland Commission for Women, part of the Maryland Department of Human Resources, was established by the General Assembly in 1971 to promote female social, political, economic equality.

The state commission also serves as a valuable resource for legislative leaders who need well-documented research about women's issues.

Baltimore City and 17 counties have local commissions. Carroll is among those that do not. The others are on the Eastern Shore.

On Jan. 30, Benzil will hold a meeting at her home to see how much interest exists in creating a Carroll commission. On Saturday she spoke to members of the Carroll County League of Women Voters about the commission.

Attempts by women's advocates to establish such group several years ago died when a House of Delegates committee killed a bill that would have established a 15-member commission to provide information about services available to Carroll women and bring women's issues to the attention of county politicians.

The state commission often works with organizations such as the American Association of University Women and Girl Scouts of Central Maryland. Benzil pointed to accolades the commission bestows such as the Women of Tomorrow Award and the Maryland Women's Hall of Fame inductions.

She also noted the commission's work with the Governor's Council on the Status of Girls, which is responsible for identifying the "forces, conditions, and societal patterns that obstruct the growth and development of girls in Maryland."

"Essentially, the council does what it can to help girls realize their full potential now and in the future," and the commission tries to help it further those goals, she said.

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