March is Womenâ€™s History Month and March 8, specifically, is International Womenâ€™s Day. West Center was originally founded as WEST (Womenâ€™s Economic Self Sufficiency Training) and so with March upon us, itâ€™s a good time to take a look at how we got to where we are today.
Did you know that Womenâ€™s History Month began in Santa Rosa? The Education Task Force of the Sonoma County Commission on the Status of Women planned and executed a â€œWomenâ€™s History Weekâ€ celebration in 1978. They selected the week of March 8 to correspond with International Womenâ€™s Day, which the United Nations began celebrating in 1975. The idea took off and was embraced by communities across the country with hundreds of Womenâ€™s History Week celebrations occurring the following year. In 1980, a consortium of womenâ€™s groups and historiansâ€”led by the National Womenâ€™s History Project (now the National Women’s History Alliance)â€”successfully lobbied for national recognition. In February 1980, President Jimmy Carter issued the first Presidential Proclamation declaring the week of March 8, 1980 as National Womenâ€™s History Week. Seven years later, in 1987, Congress passed Pub. L. 100-9 (after being petitioned by the National Womenâ€™s History Project) that designated the month of March 1987 as â€œWomenâ€™s History Month.â€ For the first time, women and their achievements merited a national celebration and since 1995, each president has issued an annual proclamations designating the month of March as â€œWomenâ€™s History Month.â€
In 1988, in response to a James Irvine Foundation womenâ€™s development initiative, WEST was formed by the women of Mendocino County organized by the Community Foundation and became one of the first Womenâ€™s Business Centers in the country!
Each year, the National Womenâ€™s History Alliance chooses a theme for Womenâ€™s History Month and in the spirit of the challenging times we are living through, the 2021 theme is: â€œValiant Women of the Vote: Refusing to Be Silenced.â€ International Womenâ€™s Day also has a theme and, appropriately, for 2021 itâ€™s #ChooseToChallenge. Watch the video below with Rachel Britton, owner of the Mendocino Grain Project, as she talks about some of the challenges she faces as a small business owner!
Watch West Centerâ€™s social media channels throughout the month for posts about some of the challenges our women-owned businesses have faced and overcome. Check out the Mendocino Womenâ€™s Business Center page on our site to watch some of our favorite women business owners talk about their work.
And tune in to KZYX/Z (90.7FM, 91.5FM, 88.1FM) for the New Normal Radio Hour on Wednesdays at 7PM (March 3, 17 and 31) for a series of interviews hosted by West Centerâ€™s CEO Mary Anne Petrillo who will be speaking some womenâ€™s business movers and shakers about the challenges women face when opening businesses, staying in business, and a look at what lies ahead.
If you need help starting a business or are looking for advise for your established business, donâ€™t hesitate to call West Center at 707-964-7571 to speak with an advisor!
West Business Development Center is a U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) funded non-profit business development center that provides reliable no-cost confidential counseling and relevant training programs to entrepreneurs throughout Mendocino and Lake County. West Center hosts the Mendocino Small Business Development Center and the Mendocino Womenâ€™s Business Center.