Women credit Mink for leading the way in women’s rights

HONOLULU (AP) – U.S. Rep. Patsy Mink was “absolutely an inspiration” for Linda Chu Takayama, an Asian-American woman who followed Mink’s lead and became an attorney and public servant.

“She forged a lot of new trails for us as women,” said Takayama, a former state insurance commissioner and one of many women who attended funeral services for Mink in the State Capitol.

Mink’s death brought an outpouring of condolences and tributes from men and women at services Friday, but it was her work for women’s rights and her trail-blazing entry into Congress as the first women member from an ethnic minority that shaped her legacy.

Mink was remembered during funeral services Friday as a pioneer for women’s rights and an author of Title IX of the 1972 Education Act which guaranteed equal opportunity for women at public schools.

Many of the women who spoke and others who came to mourn said Mink was a personal inspiration for them to achieve in areas previously dominated by men. Others said her life and work inspired them to carry on.

Mink considered Title IX her proudest legislative achievement, said Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, who represented President Bush.

“It was an emancipation proclamation for the women of America because it gave them the right to pursue their dreams,” Mineta told an audience of about 1,500, a majority of them women. Some of the women wore “IX” badges.

Title IX will be renamed the Patsy Mink Act, said House minority leader Dick Gephardt, who was among a 25-member congressional delegation at the service at the Hawai’i State Capitol.

“Doors were opened for thousands of women and will continue to be open because of Patsy Mink,” Gephardt said. “She helped propel the women’s movement into the mainstream of American Society.”

“Patsy Mink changed the way America educates its women and children,” said Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., the House minority whip. “Title IX could not have happened without Patsy Mink.”

“She brought women a long way toward equality,” said Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Calif.

Mink “labored long and hard” to get the landmark legislation through the House, and as recently as 1990 fought off efforts to amend and weaken the act, said Marilyn Moniz-Kaho’ohanohano, assistant athletic director at the University of Hawai’i.

“No other law has impacted women and girls more,” she said, calling Mink “our guardian angel.”

“I’m a living example of Mrs. Mink’s vision of equality for women,” said Moniz-Kahoohanohano, a former University of Hawai’i athlete.

“She has empowered, encouraged and strengthened us,” she said. “You cannot image how many dreams have come true because of her.

“Because of you, we can play the game,” said Moniz-Kaho’ohanohano, looking at Mink’s closed casket.

Mink was a tremendously accomplished woman and played leading role in advocacy of the Equal Rights Amendment, said Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif.

Mink, who served 12 terms in Congress, died last Saturday of viral pneumonia. She was 74.

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