GUEST EDITORIAL: March is Women’s History Month

Modified: March 14, 2019 3:36pm

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March is Women’s History Month, providing an opportunity to celebrate the numerous contributions women have made to our society and also to call attention to the challenges and discrimination they still face. The Erie County Commission on the Status of Women (“ECCSW”) is planning events throughout this month to highlight visionary women, champions of peace and nonviolence, and women’s perspectives on the issues that shape our society and our world. Women in business, women in politics, women in education and the arts, important women throughout history and women in leadership positions of all kinds will be spotlighted throughout the month and will be the focus of book talks, community discussions, film presentations and more. The complete schedule of activities for the month can be found on the ECCSW page at the Erie County website.

In Erie County, women make up 52% of the county’s population, 49.5% of its labor force, and 53% of the county’s registered voters are women as well as 59% of the county’s seniors. Also, of the almost 60,000 veterans in Erie County, approximately 3,800 are women. As 2016 Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said, “Women are the largest untapped reservoir of talent in the world.” Here in Erie County we recognize that fact and are working in numerous ways to empower women in all fields of endeavor, honor women leaders of the past, and continue to advocate for equal pay between genders.

Partnering with several organizations across Western and Central York, the ECCSW is having great success with the “First Amendment, First Vote” program, educating young women about politics and governance and the opportunities that could await them in those fields. FAFV is an inclusive, non-partisan civic engagement program designed to encourage high school girls, grades 9-12, to actively participate in the political process and begin to imagine themselves as candidates for elected office sometime in their future. Through participation in this civic leadership development program, students become deeply familiar with the 1st & 19th Amendments guaranteed in the US Constitution and the role each amendment played in securing greater gender equity for women.

We are also moving forward with the Monumental Women of WNY project, which will recognize trailblazing women of WNY through the placement of a series of public monuments and plaques that will highlight the “hidden history” of women in our public life and help to raise awareness of the many contributions that women have made to our region. In Buffalo, there are 106 public statues of which 2 are of women, while of the 5,193 public statues across the United States only 394 are of women. The first two monuments, of Louise Bethune and Mary Talbert, are in development and will soon be in place. More monuments will be coming in the future as we continue to celebrate and honor the women who have played such a large role in building our community.