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Home grown in Sonoma County: Women’s History Month

March is Women’s History Month and according to cofounder and executive director Molly Murphy MacGregor, “As recently as the 1970s, women’s history was virtually an unknown topic in the K-12 curriculum or in general public consciousness.”

In 1980, the National Women’s History Project now known as the National Women’s History Alliance (NWHA) was founded in Santa Rosa by Molly Murphy MacGregor, Mary Ruthsdotter, Maria Cuevas, Paula Hammett, and Bette Morgan to broadcast women’s historical achievements. In 1987, after being petitioned by NWHP, Congress passed Pub. L. 100-9 which designated the month of March 1987 as Women's History Month. Between 1988 and 1994, Congress passed additional resolutions requesting and authorizing the President to proclaim March of each year as Women's History Month. Since 1988, U.S. presidents have issued annual proclamations designating the month of March as Women's History Month. Today they are celebrating the 43rd anniversary of that historical event.

From the beginning of its inception the primary goal of Women's History Month is to increase consciousness and knowledge of women's history. The theme for 2021 National Women’s History Month captures the spirit of these challenging times. Since most 2020 women’s suffrage centennial celebrations were curtailed, the National Women’s History Alliance is extended the annual theme for 2021 to “Valiant Women of the Vote: Refusing to Be Silenced.”

Another great resource is the NWHA’s “Women Win the Vote” Gazette has hundreds of links plus state and national news – download from NWHA site. Also go to where they can learn more. For additional information visit their website, Phone # 707-636-2888 Email:

The following section provides information on various Women’s Organizations and what each one provides plus contact information. If you need services or additional information during the pandemic, I suggest you check out their websites and slash or make contact via phone to verify hours.

Services and organizations for women in Sonoma County

The American Association of University Women (AAUW), officially founded in 1881, is a non-profit organization that advances equity for women, girls and boys through advocacy, education, and research. AAUW branches and states provide funding for local scholarship programs across the U.S. Participating branches and states determine their scholarship amounts and eligibility criteria, and applicants apply directly to the opportunities for which they are qualified.

Sonoma County has three chapters, Santa Rosa, Petaluma, and Healdsburg. The Santa Rosa chapter is the first and oldest chapter in the community starting in 1935, Petaluma Branch was chartered in 1955 and the Healdsburg Branch of AAUW, serving Cloverdale, Geyserville, Healdsburg and Windsor, was founded in 1975.

Their programs include, the Tech Trek a program for girls in the 7th Grade. All chapters participate in this program which provides scholarships for girls to attend a week-long STEM (science, technology, and math) camp at Stanford. All three branches also include scholarships for students at Santa Rosa Junior College and Sonoma State.

According to Pamela Chaffin, Public Policy chairperson for Santa Rosa, all three of the branches are currently in the process to all the city’s mayor in Sonoma County to proclaim March 24, 2021 as Equal Pay Day to recognize that women typically earn 82% of what men earn.

Membership is open to anyone holding an associate or equivalent (e.g., RN), baccalaureate or higher degree from a regionally accredited college or university. Student Affiliation is open to anyone who does not already hold an undergraduate degree and is enrolled in a two-or four-year regionally accredited educational institution.

Contact Information:

  1. Petaluma Chapter. Website:
  2. Healdsburg Chapter: Website:
  3. Santa Rosa Chapter: Facebook: Website:

Historically, the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) first met at Lake Success, New York, in February 1947, soon after the founding of the United Nations. All 15 government representatives were women. From its inception, the Commission was supported by a unit of the United Nations that later became the Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW) in the UN Secretariat. From 1947 to 1962, the Commission focused on setting standards and formulating international conventions to change discriminatory legislation and foster global awareness of women’s issues. and has chapters across the United States and overseas. (not sure where you were going with the sentence - something is missing).

The Sonoma County chapter of the Commission on the Status of Women (SoCo CSW) was established on December 23, 1975 (Ordinance No. 1850) with the charge to “take affirmative action to eliminate the practice of discrimination and prejudice because of gender in the areas of housing, education, community services, and related fields.” In 1993 the Junior Commission was formed as a mentor-ship project of the CSW for high school students.

The SoCo CSW has consists of fifteen commissioners who are appointed by the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, with each supervisor appointing three applicants from their district. At present there is an opening in the 3rd District, Supervisor Chris Coursey. Applications are online at

It is recommended you attend one monthly meeting prior to applying for an appointment. Commissioners serve a 2-year term and are expected to attend monthly meetings and work on at least one Commission ad hoc committee or project. Meetings take place the second Thursday of the month at 6:00pm via Zoom. The next meeting will be March 11, 2021. Contact Information: Website: Email: Phone Number: 707-565-2693

As the grassroots arm of the women's movement the National Organization for Women is dedicated to its multi dash issue and multi dash strategy approach to women's rights and is the largest organization of feminist grassroots activists in the United States. NOW has chapters in all 50 States and the District of Columbia. Since their founding in 1966, NOW's purpose is to take action through intersectional grassroots activism to promote feminist ideals, lead social changes, eliminate discrimination, and achieve and protect the equal rights of all women and girls in all aspects of social, political, an economic life.

Sonoma County now is the local resource for advocacy for, an information about abortion an LGBTQIA rights and the equal rights amendment the chapter recently set up the Pauli Murray scholarship to provide a year membership to students with the requirement of attending a minimum of six meetings. It is their goal to attract students to become part of the organization. The chapter meets a third Wednesday of the month from 6:30 -8:00 PM via zoom and all are invited to attend. Website: If you want to get on their email list, send a request via email

Soroptimist International was formed in 1921 in Oakland, California, at a time when women were not permitted to join service organizations. Their name, means, “Best for Women.” Today, they have about 160,000 members and supporters in 21 countries and territories.

Every year there “Live Your Dream Awards,” program distributes more than $2 million in education grants to about 1,500 women all over the world. Over half of the recipients are survivors of domestic violence, trafficking or sexual assault. Their “Dream It, Be It: Career Support for Girls” program, gives girls the tools they need to achieve their education and career goals, the program targets girls in secondary school who face obstacles to their future success.

There are four chapters in Sonoma County which are part of the Soroptimist International of America Federation. Their mission is: “Women and girls have the resources and opportunities to reach their full potential and live their dreams.”

Due to the Pandemic all chapters are meeting via Zoom, contact them if interested in attending via email for meeting ID and password. All contact information can be found on in the Clubs section, Sonoma County is District III, scroll down and find your city.

Guided to Safety (GTS) was founded in January 2011 as a community effort to shed light on unpleasant subjects and demonstrate the necessity to talk about domestic, sexual, and dating violence. Their mission is, “Promoting healthy relationships through community education and resources for the awareness and prevention of domestic violence, teen dating violence and sexual assault.”

It evolved from four years of: producing V-Day screenings and productions to raise awareness and end violence against women and girls; listening to stories of male and female survivors and witnesses; and receiving requests for further, regular awareness and resources within the community. V-Day, February 14, is a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls started by author, playwright, and activist Eve Ensler.

For additional information go to their website or contact:, or

The Living Room was founded in 1993 by the Church of Incarnation, The Mission of The Living Room is to ease adversity and promote stability, dignity and self-reliance for women and children who are homeless, or at-risk of homelessness, in Sonoma County.

Under normal conditions, The Living Room is a day shelter for women and children who are experiencing homelessness. They provide a respite to homeless women and their families where they can relax, have access to services, take showers, do laundry, and enjoy two hot meals a day.

When the pandemic hit, they transitioned to a crisis center providing a hot meal, pet food, hygiene products and information services to women and children in need of help. All of this is done in a manner that strictly observes social distancing and minimizes exposure while serving the needs of this vulnerable community.'

The Drop-In Center program hours are Monday through Friday from 10am-lpm. For general inquiries, their phone number is 707-579-0135. The Living Room Drop-in Center and administration office are located at 1207 Cleveland Ave., Santa Rosa. For more extensive information about the programs offered visit their website at

The League of Women Voters of Sonoma County,” (LWV) “A Voice for Citizens, A Force for Change,” began in 1951 with the creation of a pre-organization committee and in 1953 was officially recognized as the Santa Rosa League. Although the Santa Rosa League studied and acted on county-wide issues from as early as 1957, only in 1978 did it emerge as the League of Women Voters of Sonoma County.

The primary goals are to encourage the informed and active participation of citizens in government and influence public policy through education and advocacy. Although they do support ballot measures and issues, they do not endorse candidates.

LWV has two separate and distinct roles. Voters Service/Citizen Education: they present unbiased nonpartisan information about elections, the voting process, and issues and Action/Advocacy: they are also nonpartisan, but, after study, they use their positions to advocate for or against particular policies in the public interest.

LWV has three monthly meetings, an Advocacy committee, a Voter Service committee, and an Outreach committee. The group also has a monthly book club, you can check their calendar for dates and times. For further information visit their website at and email is

Planned Parenthood (operated by Planned Parenthood Northern California) offers their services at the Santa Rosa Health Center. Planned Parenthood is one of the nation’s leading providers of high quality, affordable health care and the nation’s largest provider of reproductive health and sex education. With or without insurance, you can always come to them for your health care.

You can privately and easily book your appointment online for select services 24/7. For the full set of services, you can call 707-527-7656 to book your appointment. Health center staff can also answer any questions you may have. The center is open and operates Monday thru Friday from 8:30am to 5 pm and is open the second Saturday of the month from 9am to 2pm. They suggest you check their online appointment schedule to verify they are open.

The Center is located at: 1140 Sonoma Avenue Building 3 Santa Rosa, CA 95405.

Go to › health-center › California to view all of Planned Parenthood's health centers and find out which centers provide abortion care.

Verity is Sonoma County's rape crisis, trauma, and healing center. Verity was founded in 1974 with the vision to prevent sexual assault and to become a central source of assistance for sexual assault survivors. They strongly believe that sexual assault community education is key to eliminating sexual violence from our lives.

According to their website they believe there are three strategies to combat sexual violence: Intervention, Prevention Education, and Counseling. Verity offers programs in Child Abuse Prevention (CAPP), Teen Assault Prevention (TAPP). A Juvenile Justice Crime Prevention Act (JJCPA) along with offering Parent, Faculty, and Staff Presentations. Counseling services are available.

Due to Covid-19, the staff is working remotely. They are still operating within their normal business hours. If you have an immediate crisis, please call our Rape Crisis Intervention Hotline at (707) 545-7273 For additional information or services call (707) 545-7270 or visit their website at

The YWCA In Santa Rosa has a comprehensive Domestic Violence Program which includes The Safe House which provides refuge in a confidential location for women and children fleeing domestic violence.

Established in 1977 as one of the first 15 battered women's shelters in the country, women seeking safety from domestic violence can call the hotline (707-546-1234) to be screened for the YWCA's therapeutic 60-day residential program known as the Safe House.

According to information on their website that I believe you should know is that Nationally, it usually takes an average of 6 to 8 times for a woman to successfully leave her abusive partner, 1 in every 4 women and 1 in every 14 men will experience domestic violence in her/his lifetime. For additional services and programs are available during the pandemic visit their website at

Dear Reader, Please note I am aware that there are many other women’s organizations and programs in our county. If we left one off, email me at elainebholtz@gmail and I will make sure it is posted on our website.

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