Celebrating Achievements, Recognizing Challenges in Women’s History Month

Modified: March 7, 2017 10:30am

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March is Women’s History Month, dedicated to honoring women’s accomplishments but also to drawing attention to the challenges they still face. Earlier this month I was honored to join the Erie County Commission on the Status of Women, the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library, and numerous members of the WNY Women’s Coalition to kick off Women’s History Month in Erie County and introduce the 2017 calendar of events for the month. Throughout the month, 34 events will be taking place across Erie County to discuss women’s history and issues, provide business networking opportunities, and bring women and girls together for social engagements with films, musical performances, and more. It’s a good way to affirm all that we are doing to promote women’s interests locally, something that my administration has been focused on from the beginning. I encourage readers to get more information and explore the calendar for themselves, which is available in printed form at all libraries as well as online at www.erie.gov and www.BuffaloLib.org .

I was joined at the kickoff event by Karen King, Executive Director of the Commission on the Status of Women, who is preparing for a busy year. The ECCSW will be hosting the NACW National Conference in July, which will bring women from around Erie County and the nation together to convene and discuss a cross section of women’s issues as well as celebrate the NYS Women’s Suffrage Centennial and the accomplishments of the ECSSW. The theme of this year’s gathering is “Embracing Our Past, Empowering Our Future” and the conference will highlight the many ways that women from WNY and the nation have impacted our communities. Of course, my administration continues to work aggressively on women’s issues in Erie County, including passing pay equity measures for county government and at the ECIDA, so we are looking forward to the conference and the dialogue it will create. In addition to the boost it will provide to awareness of women’s issues, the conference will also provide a boost to our economy through hotel room reservations and tourist activities as well.

While women’s accomplishments are celebrated, however, we must not forget that in many ways in our society women are still fighting for equality. One of these is pay inequality, an insidious form of discrimination that still exists in 2017 and continues to deprive hard-working women of compensation equal to that of their male counterparts. My administration continues to advocate for women on this front, and equal pay for equal work was the mandate behind my thirteenth executive order, signed in November 2014 and requiring contractors with the county to certify that they provide equal pay between genders. That commitment needs to be embraced and enforced by all businesses, demonstrating their own resolve to treat their employees equally. It is unconscionable that our mothers, sisters, wives, and daughters still face this type of pay discrimination today. These women are workers and breadwinners, providing for themselves and their families, and deserve to have their voices heard in the call for fair pay.