2020, the year of the woman in Benicia
Founded in 1847, Benicia was named after a woman (the wife of General Vallejo), and in the second decade of the millennium, the city’s arts, government, science and commerce sectors are all being led by members of the female sex.
If Dona Francesca Filipe Benicia Camilla Vallejo were here today, what would she think of her namesake town?
Benicia has attracted women entrepreneurs who are using their talents and moxie to open and run businesses throughout town. From the 2012 census, 38% of all firms in Benicia were owned by women. Nine years later there has been incredible growth in this sector.
One House Bakery, Fox and Fawn Bakehouse, The Daughter of Luna Floral Design, Collektive Boutique, Pink Arrows Boutique, Happy Life Pottery, Zeppelin Comics, The Little Art Shop, Bella Sienna and Sepay Groves Olive Oil all have women involved in their operations as owners or partners.
The National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) data shows that more than 11.6 million firms in the US are owned by women, employing nearly 9 million people, and generating $1.7 trillion in sales, as of 2017. Women-owned firms account for 39% of all privately held firms and contribute 8% of employment and 4.2% of revenues.
After the world wide women marches in 2017-2019, there was what might be described as a revolution, with an unprecedented surge of first-time female candidates running and being elected to offices from the U.S. Senate and Congress to State legislatures, local City Councils and School Boards.
When the 116th Congress convened in 2018, women made up nearly a quarter of its voting membership, which is the highest percentage in U.S. history.
“Don’t mess with me” Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi has proven her ability to keep her caucus together during many historic legislative votes considered by the House, including impeachment.
Locally, there are a majority of women on the Benicia School Board, however the Benicia City Council has had only 7 women elected in its 173 year history.
The arts community in Benicia is well represented by women who are known locally and, in some cases, internationally. The waterfront beauty of Benicia has inspired artists for decades. The bronze work of Lisa Reinertson’s Neptune’s Daughter statue is the culmination of art and Benicia. Neptune’s Daughter has become iconic in a short time as tourists and residents visit her permanent residence at the waterfront on a regular basis. Her protective hold of a pelican and determined facial expression relays to the observer a “Don’t mess with me” attitude!
As far as what our namesake Dona Francesca Filipe Benicia Camilla Vallejo might think of today’s Benicia, I think she would be in awe of how far the city has come without losing its small town charm. Thanks to a woman’s touch!