The mission of the Diverse Women’s Committee is to discuss how women as attorneys, particularly women of color, can become leaders and utilize their legal position to support human rights and demand equality and inclusivity for all. The keynote speaker for this year’s Diverse Women’s Committee luncheon is Mona Pasquil, an incredible woman who has spent her career in public service, most recently as California Governor Jerry Brown’s Appointments Secretary since 2011.
Today’s headlines highlight the discrimination women continue to face, especially women of color, as we attempt to gain an equal foothold in our workplaces and the economy. Stories abound of sexual harassment, pregnancy discrimination, and gender pay inequality from Walmart to Wall Street. And those are only examples of gender-based discrimination; women of color also face implicit and sometimes overt racism and bias in the workplace daily. Despite facing these challenges, women of color continue to lead the charge toward greater equality. Indeed, in 2015, years before the national conversation on the “MeToo” hashtag emerged, a courageous group of Latina women started a movement that paved the way to a new California law targeting sexual harassment and assault in the janitorial industry. Indeed, the coining of the term “MeToo” to help survivors of sexual assault find support was created by an African-American woman nearly a decade ago.
In the current political climate and the U.S. Senate’s judicial confirmation hearings for nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh, I’ve often heard it said that diversity and women’s equality matters “now more than ever.” Maybe in this moment society is listening to women more than ever, but the leadership and diverse voices of women have always mattered in the fight for human rights, equality, and inclusivity for all. It mattered just as much in 1955, when Dolores Huerta began her career as an organizer, eventually co-founding with Cesar Chavez what would become the United Farm Workers’ Union to advocate for the economic and social rights of farm workers. It mattered just as much in 1964, when Fannie Lou Hamer helped found the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, challenged the state’s all-white delegation, and unmasked racial segregation and voter suppression in her speeches at the National Democratic Convention. It mattered just as much in 1991, when Anita Hill testified before the U.S. Senate, detailing her experiences of sexual harassment by Clarence Thomas when he oversaw her work at the Department of Education and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. And it mattered just as much in 2009, when Mona Pasquil became California’s first Asian, first Filipina, and first female lieutenant governor.
Please join the Diverse Women’s Committee for our luncheon on Thursday, October 18, 2018, as we continue our conversation to identify, confront, and address particular challenges that women of color, as double minorities, continue to face in the legal profession and society. Mona Pasquil is an incredible speaker and is a woman using her voice and leadership to promote equal access to opportunity for all. Everyone is welcome and we hope to see you there – register now!
Marni von Wilpert is a Deputy City Attorney in the Civil Litigation Unit of the San Diego City Attorney's Office, and wrote this for San Diego Lawyers Club's Diverse Women's Committee.