BLUE RIBBON COMMISSION
It began with a question.
Shortly after the 2017 Women’s March, a small group of local Sacramento area women gathered in each others living rooms and kitchens compelled by a central question: how are the women and girls in Sacramento County?
An initial public data search indicated that sparse data was readily available to answer their question. A cursory landscape review revealed that no single entity exists in Sacramento County for public accountability about the equity, safety, economic opportunity, education, health and wellbeing for Sacramento County’s women and girls. Understanding that Women’s Commissions serve this function around the country, the world and in 25 cities and counties in California, the group began to explore the possibility of establishing a commission for women & girls in Sacramento County, the fourth largest county in the State of California.
The conversation grew into a full-fledged grass-roots effort through a series of public meetings held in women’s organizations throughout Sacramento County. Women and girls from throughout the county gathered in these community meetings to explore interest in establishing a local commission for women and girls. They identify priority areas, and potential activities for a local commission. As the conversation grew, so did the circle of volunteers and enthusiasm from a broad spectrum of women across the county.
In addition to holding seven public meetings, the volunteer team now known as “Sacramento For Women & Girls” surveyed twenty-five local women’s organizations. On March 8, 2019 – International Women’s Day – the gorup launched a series of ten “How Are The Women & Girls of Sacramento County? Listening Circles” that engaged over 500 participants. A partnership with the local organization Women’s Wisdom Art gave added dimension to the listening by incorporating an artistic outlet for listening circle participants in addition to the lively discussion. Women and girls made personal drawings on panels that were then woven into beautiful “How Are The Women and Girls?” quilts currently on display at the Impact Foundry offices in Sacramento.
In July 2019, Sacramento County Supervisor Phil Serna brought a resolution before the County Board of Supervisors to further advance the grassroots effort. Supervisor Serna’s resolution supported a Blue Ribbon Commission to carry out careful deliberation and research to better understand the prospective merit of a women’s commission as an advisory body to the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors. The Resolution passed by unanimous vote of the Board on July 23, 2019.
After consultation in late summer and fall of 2019 with women’s organizations, members of the community and each member of the Board of Supervisors, the Blue Ribbon Commission was formed.
The Commission met between December 2019 and November 2020 to fulfill its mandate to “advise the Board of Supervisors and public about the structure, role, value and responsibilities” of a Sacramento County Women’s Commission. Five ad hoc advisory committees were formed to carry out this work, which culminated in a report to the Board of Supervisors on December 15, 2020.
The Commission’s report was well received and resulted in a unanimous vote by the Board of Supervisors to establish a Sacramento County Commission on the Status of Women and Girls.
The Blue Ribbon Commission will continue meeting through September 2021 to support formalizing the new Commission and a nonprofit “Friends of the Commission.”