MS Gulf Coast Women of Achievement Awards

On October 17th, Lighthouse Business & Professional Women (BPW) will hold its annual Women of Achievement Awards at the Biloxi Civic Center. The formal luncheon and ceremony will be attended by more than 300 movers and shakers from every industry represented on the Coast.
Each year, Lighthouse BPW recognizes an outstanding woman in each of the following categories: Education, Medical, Nonprofit, Corporate and Government/Military. To be eligible, a candidate must have at least 10 years of work experience in her most recent career field. An overall winner is selected from the top category winners to receive Lighthouse Business & Professional Women’s 2012 Woman of the Year Award.
This year, Lighthouse BPW will also be honoring a young woman with the Young Careerist Award. A Young Careerist must be between the ages of 18 to 35, and has demonstrated excellence and leadership in her career field. The candidate must live and/or work along the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
The nominees are chosen by professionals along the Gulf Coast, regardless of their affiliation with the organization. The winners are chosen by independent judges, women in their own right who are successful professionals.
The national BPW organization is nearly 100 years old. When World War I broke out, every able-bodied man was expected to don a uniform and go to battle. More than 25,000 American women went to war with them, serving as nurses, communications operators, journalists and entertainment for the troops. On the home front, many women were losing their traditional jobs as servants, maids and nannies so that affluent homes could economize. But the jobs left behind by the men who went to war were now available. By the end of World War I, more than 1.5 million women were working traditionally male jobs.
With a grant from the federal government, the Women’s War Council set up an organization geared to support women in the workplace. The National Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs was founded in 1919. The organization later became known as Business & Professional Women/USA (or BPW/USA) In a year’s time, women were granted the right to vote. By the 1930’s BPW/USA drafted the legislation to prohibit hiring discrimination based on marital status. “A wife’s place was in the home,” was the cultural creed at the time, and it took alot for these women to win equality in the workplace. In 1945, they successfully campaigned for equal pay legislation, although it took another 18 years for it to become law. It was signed by President Kennedy surrounded by BPW members.
Today’s BPW still promotes equality and nationally addresses women’s workplace issues. Organization chapters are found in all 50 states and in several countries. Each chapter is free to focus on the issues that are pertinent to their regional challenges. The need to recognize and honor professional and business women seems to be universal. The Women of Achievement Awards are a mainstay for BPW chapters. Lighthouse BPW has been hosting the awards ceremony since 1956 for MS Gulf Coast working women.

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