Aug 25, 2017
On Women's Equality Day, we mark the 97th anniversary of the enactment of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which secured the right to vote for women. Fifty years ago, a nationwide Strike for Women’s Equality was organized by the National Organization for Women (NOW). Demonstrations and rallies for equal opportunities in employment, education and twenty-four-hour day care were organized in ninety major cities and small towns across the country. This was the largest protest for gender equality in American history.
In 1976, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors established the Sonoma County Commission on the Status of Women, one of the first in California. The Ordinance mandated the Commission “To promote equal rights and opportunities that enhance the quality of life for all women and girls, and to address issues of discrimination and prejudice that negatively affect women in Sonoma County.” Since its founding, the Commission has acted as a forum for the women and girls in Sonoma County to discuss issues of equality, to educate our neighbors about the essential role of women in the growth and well-being of our County, and to advocate for programs and policies that open the door for women in private business and the public sector.
During the current term, the Commission is focusing on affordable child care, intimate partner violence, mental health, and suicide, while continuing its initiatives in voter registration and empowering women to seek public office and leadership in the private sector. One of the proudest projects of the Commission is mentoring the Junior Commission on Women. The Junior Commission consists of a group of high school age young women and men who, during the school year, create community service projects that advocate for eliminating barriers that discriminate and arbitrarily limit the capacity of women and girls to achieve their dreams. This year, there are 28 high school students from all five County supervisorial districts.
Especially today, we should be reminded that opportunity and equality do not come without commitment and often, without struggle. Today, women constitute nearly 50 percent of our workforce, the majority of students in our colleges and graduate schools, and an increasing number of primary breadwinners in families.
From business to medicine to the military, women are leading the fields that were closed off to them only decades ago. Even with the gains women have made, work remains to be done in many areas and especially regarding equal pay for equal work.
As we mark this 97th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, let us celebrate the achievements of women and recommit to realizing gender equality in Sonoma County, including equal pay for equal work.
The Commission on the Status of Women is a public advisory body comprised of 15 members appointed by the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors. The purpose of the Commission is to promote equal rights and opportunities that enhance the quality of life for all women and girls and to address issues of discrimination and prejudice that negatively affect women in Sonoma County.
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