Happy Women History Month, Let’s Make it a Year Round Celebration!
Throughout history, women have fought persistently to come out of the shadows, organize for change and make their voices heard.
In the United States, women have come a long way.
Women held their first women rights convention in 1878; in 1920, the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, granting women the right to vote, became law; the first Commission on the Status of Women was established by President John Kennedy in 1963 and the equal-pay act was passed.
In 1987, the National Hispana Leadership Institute was founded to address the under-representation of Latinas in the non-profit, political and corporate arenas and, just recently in early 2009, President Barack Obama signed his first bill, the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act, which allows victims of pay discrimination to file a complaint with the government against their employer within 180 days of their last paycheck.
We have gone from being treated as second-class citizens to getting recognized as full contributors of our society. Women from all backgrounds, ages, regions, countries have taken a stand against disparity, social injustices, and to provide a better life for their families.
Some have become more visible names and others have worked behind the scenes. There are those who work at the base with the community and those who support communities from a national lens.
There are women who walk the halls of Capitol Hill advocating for policies and there are those who sit in corporate offices making multimillion-dollar decisions.
There are those who stay at home to care for their families and others who hold two jobs to make ends meet.
There are those who leave their countries of origin to give loved ones a better life.
Regardless of our occupations, status, background all women matter and can make a difference every single day.
In the Latino community, courageous women have made history and continue making history with their struggles. During the late ‘60s and early ‘70s Dolores Huertas fought intensely for farmworker rights.
A few years ago, a young Marie González from Missouri and Gabriela Pacheco from Miami emerged to become outspoken immigration rights advocates—and like them thousands of other young Latinas.
We recently saw Hilda Solis transition from U.S. Congresswoman to become the first Latina Secretary of Labor. And there are thousands of Latina stories we may not hear that often…first in the family to graduate from college, to get elected to public office, to start a new business.
As we honor Women throughout the month of March and reflect on our accomplishments, challenges we still must overcome, and the work we still have to do, remember that every woman is important. Tell your friends, your boss, your mother, your sisters, your grandma, your neighbor, and your colleagues what their hard work means to you and thank them what they do. Because each and everyone one of them is paving the way, sowing a seed and making it better for the next generation.
When Congress expanded the National Women’s History Week in 1987 to an entire month celebration, we might have thought it was a victory. But let’s not wait until U.S. Congress approves another expansion.
Let’s take it upon ourselves to honor women all year round.