Opening event at downtown library unveils month-long calendar of women's activities
A community-wide celebration is underway in Erie County following the sixth annual kickoff event for Women's History Month, held Thursday at the downtown branch of the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library. Deputy Erie County Executive Maria Whyte was joined by Executive Director of the Erie County Commission on the Status of Women Sawrie Becker, elected officials, representatives of the Buffalo & Erie County Public library, and numerous partner organizations to kick off a month of activities with a noontime event that included the presentation of the second annual Woman of Courage, Character & Commitment Awards.
"Women's History Month provides an opportunity to learn more about the many contributions women have made to our society, while at the same time gaining a better understanding of the challenges we still face," Whyte said. "With conferences, lectures, social programs and business networking events throughout the month, there are many ways to learn more and get involved in Women's History Month."
The local commemoration of March as Women's History Month matches the national commemoration, declared by Congress in 1987 as advocated by the National Women's History Project and other national organizations. This year's national theme is "Weaving the Stories of Women's Lives."
Along with music from the Buffalo SEMACHORDS and a theatrical performance by PPWNY Teen Reality Theatre, the event was highlighted by the presentation of the Woman of Courage, Character & Commitment Awards, which were awarded to Constance Bowles Eve and Zandra Azariah Cunningham.
Eve, an educator, humanitarian and trailblazer, is the founder of Women for Human Rights and Dignity an organization that provides training, day care resources, educational support, family counseling and housing for homeless women, single mothers with children and women in prison or who would otherwise be incarcerated. Cunningham, an entrepreneur and junior ambassador, is the founder of "Zandra Beauty," a 75-product natural beauty business, and is also the youngest graduate of the all-adult Minority and Women Entrepreneurial Program at the University at Buffalo.
Commissioner Sawrie Becker said, "The Erie County Commission on the Status of Women is proud to collaborate for the sixth straight year to highlight and celebrate women with a vibrant calendar of events and networking opportunity for organizations that serve women. Today, while we remember the extraordinary women of our past, we also recognize that women and young girls in Buffalo and Erie County are making their own exciting history every single day."
The keynote speaker for the kickoff event was Noemi Ghazala, the superintendent of Women's Rights National Historical Park in Seneca Falls. The kickoff event also included displays from several nonprofit partner organizations offering resources and information on services important to women; the unveiling of the 2015 Women's History Month calendar of events; and remarks from officials, including opening remarks from Whyte.
For more information on the Erie County Commission on the Status of Women, visit http://www2.erie.gov/csw/.
Award winner Constance Bowles Eve gives remarks as Erie County Commissioner of Public Advocacy Sawrie Becker looks on.