Happy International Women’s Day!

International Women’s Day is a worldwide celebration of the accomplishments of women, regardless of race, gender, nationality, political affiliation, or economic situation. This year, the theme is #BalanceforBetter, focusing on the idea that balance between men and women is truly the key and everyone’s responsibility.

This is actually the 110th year a Women’s Day has been celebrated in the United States. Efforts first began in 1909 to support a garment worker’s strike out of New York. Women were protesting their working conditions and the Socialist Party designated February 28 as the first National Women’s Day.

The Socialists took the day international the following year at a meeting in Copenhagen. It’s goal was to support both women’s rights and universal suffrage. More than 100 women from 17 countries unanimously agreed to the day.

For years after, the movement grew with women in using the day and their voices to keep fighting for equal rights and protesting impending wars, advocating for peace instead. 1975 was dubbed International Women’s Year and it was then the United Nations began official celebrations of International Women’s Day on March 8.

In 2019, women may have equal rights on paper, but reality is a much different situation. We’re still fighting to be treated equally in the workplace, especially when it comes to pay, and to destroy the subtle sexist behaviors that continually plague our society.

We can all play a role in achieving #BalanceforBetter. According to International Women’s Day, “a balanced world is a better world,” and by celebrating the achievements of women, raising awareness around gender bias, and continually taking action against inequality, we can achieve a much needed balance.

Even though today’s the day we celebrate, the drive to #BalanceforBetter continues beyond March 8. Join the online conversation with hashtags #IWD2019 and #BalanceforBetter, and by sharing your photos of your hands out in a pose to represent the balance we’re constantly working toward.

Take a minute today to thank and acknowledge the incredible women in your life!

Monroe County Troop gets early access to program honoring Martha Matilda Harper

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This morning, Troop 63113 was invited to the Rochester Museum & Science Center for first access to this weekend’s special program about one of Rochester’s greatest advocates for women. Surprisingly, we aren’t talking about Susan B. Anthony.

Martha Matilda Harper embodied what it means to be a G.I.R.L, or Go-Getter, Risk-Taker, Innovator, and Leader. Born in Canada, she was sent at age 7 to be a domestic servant for relatives. After 22 years, she moved to Rochester where she worked as a servant for a minister and a physician, with the latter forever altering the course of her life. Just three years after entering the United States, her empire began to grow.

Through working for the physician and a gift of one of his tonics, she began experimenting with new products that would benefit hair, opposed to those currently on the market she felt were damaging. To sell her own tonic, she used a picture of her floor-length hair to show the true benefit of using her product. One product grew into a salon which eventually blossomed into the first franchise. In fact, the second location she opened after Rochester was in Buffalo.

At its highest, the Harper Method had more than 500 salons and featured clientele like Woodrow Wilson, Jacqueline Kennedy, and even Susan B. Anthony.

Now she’s honored for her contributions to business today and her work as a successful businesswoman and female empowerment advocate in a time when it was most definitely a man’s world.

Locally, Jane R. Pitt has written several books about the life of Martha. On her site, she wondered if Juliette Gordon Low ever visited a Harper Method salon as well as her excitement over her fellow woman’s success. While we don’t know those answers, we can see the impact she has on the current generation.

At the RMSC, Troop 63113 was able to learn more about Martha’s legacy and even read Jane R. Pitt’s works about her. For more coverage, check out the news story here.