By  on June 27, 2007

The second annual Women in Industry luncheon drew 200 guests, raised $95,000 to support the Kids in Distressed Situations charity and painted a bleak picture of a world where millions of children face severe hardships.

"Statistics on poverty in this country and around the world are staggering and often ignored," including the 13 million children in the U.S. that suffer from poverty, said Janice Weinman, president of K.I.D.S., which last year donated $41.7 million worth of products, including clothes, school supplies and toys, to four million children. The retail and fashion industry is a major supporter of K.I.D.S.

Elizabeth Vargas, co-anchor of "20/20," also addressed the June 7 luncheon, and recounted a story she covered about a ballet school for children in Baghdad. "In their pink leotards, they weren't any different from the kids you see in Riverside Park." However, one big difference was that these Baghdad children dodge bullets on their way to class, Vargas noted. For those children, "something as small as a ballet slipper can mean so much and that's what you're providing."

Gloria Ortiz, executive director of Horizon Academy, a school for young men on Rikers Island that has received K.I.D.S. donations, and Nina McLemore, founder of Liz Claiborne accessories in 1980 and chief executive officer of Nina McLemore, a gold-range fashion business, also spoke. That women are portrayed by the fashion industry as sex objects is a major problem, McLemore said. She also said women are only slowly advancing up the corporate ladder. "Two percent of the ceo's of the Fortune 500 are women. It will take another 47 years for us to reach parity."

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