March 16, 2007

What National Women’s History Month Means to the Women of the Hispanic Caucus

Hispanic Women Leaders Speak on National Women’s History Month

Washington, DC – In 1981, the U.S. Congress established National Women’s History Week. Later, in 1987, Congress expanded National Women’s History Week to National Women’s History Month. Each year, the President issues a special Women’s History Month Proclamation during the month of March. This proclama-tion marks the beginning of National Women’s History Month.

“As we celebrate and honor the achievements of women throughout history, I am again thrilled to see Hispanic women increasingly being given the spotlight for their contributions and achievements nationwide,” said Congresswoman Grace Napolitano (CA-38), a former Chairwoman of CHC. “We must continue to recognize and commend their accomplishments and work to foster opportunity and advancement for our Latina youth.”

“Women’s History Month is a time to celebrate the contributions of the many dynamic trailblazers such as Ellen Ochoa, the first Latina astronaut, Dolores Huerta, co-founder of United Farm Workers and Dr. Antonia Novello who in 1990 became the first woman and first Hispanic to serve as U.S. Surgeon General,” said Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-34) who in 1992 became the first Mexican-American woman elected to Congress. “As community leaders, professionals, mothers and wives, our lifetime achievements will continue to open doors for future generations.”

“While we celebrate the accomplishments of women around the world, in places like corporate boardrooms, medical research labs and in the halls of government, we must also acknowledge the progress we still have left to achieve,” said Congresswoman Linda Sánchez (CA-39), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Congressional Women’s Caucus. “The leadership and contributions of women are too often ignored - both abroad and here at home. We must renew our commitment to breaking down barriers of intolerance, because our basic human progress will always be constrained by the marginalization of women.”

“I am inspired by women like Dolores Huerta, who helped found the United Farmworkers, Gloria Molina, the first Latina elected to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who became the first woman Speaker of the House in January,” said Congresswoman Hilda L. Solis, first Latina co-chair of the Caucus on Women’s Issues (CA-32). “This year is a historic one for women with a record 90 women Members of Congress and Senators serving our country. There are also more women than ever chairing committees and subcommittees in the House of Representatives. These women are all leaders who continue to make a real difference for women and their families every day.”

“Women’s History Month is an opportunity to remember those who paved the way for where we are today. As the first Latina to chair a full congressional committee, I know how much we owe to those who came before us. Throughout history, Latinas—and all women—have made great strides forward, helping to better our communities and this nation,” said Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez (NY-12), Chairwoman of the House Small Business Committee.

Hispanic women leaders have played a vital role in fighting for natural rights. Dolores Huerta, for example, is a civil and workers rights leader and co-founder of the National Farm Workers Association—which later became the United Farm Workers (UFW) with Cesar Chávez in 1962. In 1966, she negotiated a contract between the UFWOC and Schenley Wine Company, marking the first time that farm workers were able to successfully collectively bargain with an agricultural enterprise.

Rosa Rosales is the first female president of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). As a labor organizer, Rosales founded the National Association of Public Employees (NAPE) in 1999. She was elected president of LULAC in 2006. 

Aida Alvarez was born in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico in 1950. She was the first Hispanic and Puerto Rican woman to hold an executive position in a President’s Cabinet, having been named Administrator of the Small Business Administration by President Bill Clinton. 

Sandra Cisneros is an American author and poet who is heavily influenced by her Mexican-American heritage. Her novels The House on Mango Street and Caramelo have been translated into many languages and have won many literary awards. She is the Director of multi-disciplinary arts non-profit, the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center in San Antonio, TX.

These women, along with millions of other Latinas, provide outstanding role models for the leaders of today and tomorrow. It is their leadership and pioneering spirit that have paved the way for new exceptional leaders. Exceptional leaders who have achieved recent positive acclaim in-clude Army Corps of Engineers Taskforce Guardian Barbara Garcia, who spent nine months rebuilding the levees in New Orleans under dangerous circumstances, and Linda Rivera, Google’s Vice-President and General Counsel who played a major role in taking Google public.

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