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Women's equality 'a continuing effort' in Washington Co.

November 15, 2007|By MARIE GILBERT

HAGERSTOWN - The roll call of trailblazing women who have made Washington County their home is impressive. They have left their marks in education, government, business and the arts. And they opened doors for other women to follow.

But while women have made great strides in removing barriers in all areas of their lives, "there's still a lot of work to be done," according to Rose Wolters-Campher. "It's important to celebrate the accomplishments of women and the progress that's been made, but equality is a continuing effort."

That's why, she said, she's proud to be president of the Washington County Commission for Women.

"We want to promote equality in all aspects of society," she said. "That's what we've done since 1987, and that's what we'll continue to do."

The local commission marked its 20th anniversary Wednesday night during a reception at the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts.

The event featured past and present members of the commission, as well as local guests and dignitaries.

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Wolters-Campher said the Washington County Commission for Women began two decades ago when the Washington County Commissioners requested legislation to establish a Commission for Women. Senate Bill 785 of Maryland was passed in both houses.

Over the past 20 years, she said, the commission has acted as a catalyst for change by educating the community on women's issues, promoting equality and advocating on behalf of women.

"It's hard to believe that in the year 2007, we are still fighting for equal rights," she said. "But as long as women make 77 cents to a man's one dollar, as long as women are victims of domestic violence, we will continue to be a constant voice. There is plenty of work to be done."

After 20 years, there are many people who don't know the commission exists, Wolters-Campher said.

"They really don't know who we are or what we do," she said.

The commission sponsors an annual student essay contest during Women's History Month, brings the concerns of women in Washington County to the state legislature, provides statistics and information on local demographics of interest to women, and encourages women to become candidates for public office or serve on other policy-making boards.

"Our role is to make sure the needs of all women are met," she said.

Vijay-Kumar Solanki, the only male to serve on the commission, said he became a member because he believes strongly in equal rights and opportunities for women.

"This is a very innovative group," he said. "We have women members but also a man and a high school student. I think it's important to pull ideas from a lot of backgrounds and cultures."

Guest speakers included Pat Cushwa, who has more than 30 years of public service, and Julianna Albowicz, Washington County representative for Sen. Barbara Mikulski.

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