A Message from Past Co-Presidents Judy McCarrick and Lynn Wenzel, 2017
In New York on March 8, 1907, a long cortege of widowed and poverty-stricken women garment workers carried picket signs demanding improved working conditions and the recognition of equal rights for women. “Decent wages! A ten-hour-day,” the women called as they marched through the cold. When they reached the rich districts, however, they were trampled, arrested and dispersed by police.
On March 8, 1908, marking the anniversary of the earlier revolt, women workers in the needle trades again demonstrated on the Lower East Side of New York for the right to vote and for an end to sweat shops and child labor. Again the police arrested them. In 1910, Clara Zetkin, a German Jewish Socialist leader placed a resolution before the Second International group of women. She proposed that March 8 be observed each year as International Women’s Day (IWD) in memory of the first struggles. And so it is.
In the late 1960s, during the Second Wave of the Women’s Movement, women in the West again began to celebrate IWD and to honor the work of those who had gone before. Since its birth, IWD has grown to become a global day of recognition and celebration across developed and developing countries alike. Women’s organizations and governments around the world hold annual observances to honor women’s achievements.
Founded in 1980 in Santa Rosa, the National Women’s History Project (NWHP) continues to honor, celebrate, and recognize American women’s historic achievements (and is celebrating its 35th anniversary this August). Shortly thereafter, using March 8 as a focal date, the U.S. Congress declared the First Women’s History Week. Later, in 1987, Congress declared the entire month of March as National Women’s History Month.
Finally, On August 26 of each year, we celebrate Women’s Equality Day. Instituted by Representative Bella Abzug and first established in 1971, the date commemorates the passage of the 19th Amendment, the Woman Suffrage Amendment to the United States Constitution. Finally, in 1920, women achieved the right to vote!
But what does it mean if we do not build on work that has come before, if we do not strive to attain that which is still left undone? National Business & Professional Women worldwide (founded in 1919), as well as the Nevada County chapter of Business & Professional Women (BPWNC), founded in 1932, continues to advocate for women in all aspects of life. Fifty-five-plus active members strong, we monitor legislation, award twice-yearly scholarships to deserving re-entry women, advocate for changes in laws and representation, work directly to stop violence against women and to better the lives of battered women, patronize local, women-owned businesses, assist and support the Clinic! that provides reproductive health care and information for women and men of all ages and incomes, and champion equality of opportunity for all women under the law.
BPWNC stands for belief in self, authentic humanitarianism and change in the world for the betterment of all women’s lives. This is a big job, but the energy and focus of this dynamic group of forward-thinking women is committed to informing and educating women. We have recently seen how women throughout the country respond when their reproductive health care is placed in jeopardy. With those who support health care access for women regardless of their income, we stand firm.
BPWNC supports the BPW Foundation’s Women Veterans in Transition Project that seeks ways to assist female veterans to adjust from military to civilian life and to find meaningful employment. BPWNC is proud to have the largest membership in California and to provide a forum each month for discussion and action surrounding the most pressing issues that affect women in the community. Each month’s meeting in Grass Valley offers dinner, ideas, speakers and entertainment, accomplishments, updates about pending legislation of importance, and fund-raising for nonprofits that support women and their children. This spirited group of women finds in fellowship, the power and strength that lie within each of us. And, in so doing, honors and supports all women in the community.
And one more thing — we have lots of fun too!
We look forward to a wonderful year together. Invite your friends to join us –Â for information about joining BPWNC contact Shirley Zeff at 530-273-3010 or firstname.lastname@example.org