The New York City Women’s Caucus, chaired by Councilwomen Margaret Chin (D-Battery Park City, Chinatown) and Carlina Rivera (D-East Village, Gramercy Park) hosted their annual “Women’s HERstory Month” celebration last night, paying tribute to women who made a difference in the past year.
Every March – the month recognized as Women’s History Month in the United States – the Women’s Caucus holds a celebration at City Hall, during which certificates of achievement are given out to New York women for their contributions to the artistic, cultural and political zeitgeist. Also in attendance were several other members of the Women’s Caucus, such as Council Members Helen Rosenthal (D-Central Park, Lincoln Square), Diana Ayala (D-East Harlem, Mott Haven), and Inez Barron (D-East New York, New Lots).
“We are hard at work making sure that all New Yorkers can become leaders – not in spite of being women, but because of it,” said Margaret Chin. “Tonight we are honoring and inspiring a diverse group of women leaders for their lifelong commitment to advancing social justice.”
This year’s honorees were as follows: Kassandra Frederique, New York State director at the Drug Policy Alliance; Natasha Johnson, activist against female genital mutilation; Esmeralda Simmons, founder of the Center for Law and Social Justice in Brooklyn; and Beverly Tillery, executive director of the Anti-Violence Project (AVP).
“As co-chairs of the Women’s Caucus, we know that we can’t do any of the work without the people in this room,” said Carlina Rivera. “And the honorees tonight… have done work around this area of social justice with such an intersectional lens: not just serving women, but every single New Yorker.”
The event also paid tribute to the women of New York’s past, as City Council Speaker Corey Johnson (D-Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen) commended the Council for their recent efforts to make New York’s public art scene more gender inclusive. Of particular note were Women’s Voices: Shaping the City, an recently unveiled installation in City Hall that features portraits of eight women that played a major role in New York’s history, and She Built NYC, a citywide initiative to address the lack of lack of female statues and monuments in New York’s public realm.
“If you go right down these stairs… you’ll see some beautiful, beautiful photos of eight incredible, trailblazing, glass ceiling-breaking, history-making women who changed the course of our history and of our city,” said Johnson. “And we partnered with the New York Historical Society to show that not only the future is female, but the past is female too.”
Chin closed out the ceremony by thanking the honorees for the work that they do and the inspiration they invoke in others.
“We have such incredible honorees, and thank you so much for your commitment and the work you do,” said Chin. “And that’s why we have these kinds of celebrations; when we come together, we inspire each other to continue to struggle and continue the fight.”