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Each year, the President designates March as National Women’s History Month as one way that Americans in schools, workplaces and local communities can take the time to reflect on the accomplishments and legacies of women who have shaped our great country’s history.
This year’s theme is “Celebrating Women of Character, Courage and Commitment.”
Like many of you, when I see those words, I think of my mother, I think of my sister, and I think of my daughter, all strong and courageous women in my life.
The theme of character, courage and commitment honors the extraordinary and often unrecognized determination of the tenacity of women. For generations, often facing social convention and legal constraints, women have persevered in their efforts to achieve their full potential.
This month, the National Women’s History Project has named 12 honorees whose lives and achievements span centuries and cultural and ethnic backgrounds.
Among the honorees are three women who are – or were – Federal employees. They are examples of the legions of women who go to work for the American people each and every day.
Frances Oldham Kelsey was the Food and Drug Administration Pharmacologist who refused to approve thalidomide, a drug that was later proved to cause severe birth defects. Dr. Kelsey’s research led Congress to pass the 1938 Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act greatly strengthening the agency’s drug regulations. Dr. Kelsey continued her work at the FDA until her retirement in 2005 at age 91.
Ann Lewis has been a lifelong women’s rights organizer and women’s history advocate. She served as White House Communications Director under President Clinton. As a national commentator on public policy, she champions the recognition of women’s history.
Lisa Taylor is a civil rights attorney for the Department of Justice where she has enforced the rights of HIV victims, autistic children, and educational opportunities for minority students. She was in Naval ROTC as a student and served as an officer aboard the USS Tarawa, where she developed the ship’s first program to address sexual harassment.
I salute all of these women. And I want to thank all the women here at OPM for the job they do each and every day to serve this agency and the American people.
In his Women’s History Month proclamation, President Obama calls on all of us to also “celebrate those who make progress in our time. Let us remember that when women succeed, America succeeds.”
I hope we all take time out of our busy lives this month to remember the women who have been important in our lives. And still are.
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