Utah Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson signed a declaration on Monday celebrating the “powerful heritage of Utah women” and designating March 8, 2021, as “Women’s Day in Utah.”

Henderson, Utah’s second female lieutenant governor, signed the declaration on International Women’s Day, a global holiday “celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.”

During a virtual town hall hosted by the Women’s Business Center of Utah, Salt Lake Chamber and World Trade Center Utah, Henderson spoke about “Utah’s incredible women's history” beginning in the mid-19th century “when women in the state who were angry at the negative things that were being said about them and the way they were being portrayed on the national stage began hosting indignation meetings where they demanded to be seen and heard.”

The lieutenant governor praised prominent women in Utah history, including civil rights leader Alice Kasai, who advocated for the rights of Japanese Americans during World War II, as well as former Gov. Olene Walker, the first woman to serve as Utah's governor.

Henderson read a quotation from Utah suffragist Emily Richards, words that she said are “as relevant today as they were when she spoke them more than a century ago.”

The quote reads, “The work is but begun; the cause is in its nearest infancy. That which remains to be done opens up before us in an almost endless vista. In a far away promised land, we behold a perfected state wherein the heart and hand and intelligence women contribute their full share.”

“Women in Utah have a long track record of doing, not just talking,” Henderson said on Monday. “And there's plenty more to do.”

The declaration, which is also supported by Gov. Spencer Cox, states that “women are leading contributors to Utah's prominence on the economic and world stage” and "own over 89,000 businesses, they are innovators, and employ people in every industry sector across the state.”

Additionally, it says that the people of Utah “choose to renew the commitment to work collaboratively to remove barriers in our economic and political systems and to work to eliminate pay disparities between men and women.”

Henderson also spoke about the One Utah Roadmap, a document outlining the Cox-Henderson administration’s priorities for the first 500 days in office, one of which is “expand(ing) opportunity and improv(ing) life outcomes for people with historically and systematically less access to opportunity, including women, people of color, and LGBTQIA+ individuals.”

Henderson said the administration is “working to boost opportunities for women through upskilling and retraining, scholarships and mentoring, improved child care options and creative solutions for the private sector," noting that the COVID-19 pandemic is ”disproportionately affecting women, effectively wiping out 30 years of economic progress in the course of nine months.”

“We know that, nationally, women are bearing the economic burden of this pandemic, with four times more women than men leaving the workforce to care for their families as child care options evaporate and schools shift online,” she said.

“As our state and nation emerge from this pandemic, we have a tremendous opportunity to rethink our support systems for women and families,” Henderson continued.

Also during Monday’s town hall, the Women’s Business Center of Utah announced it is launching a directory of the tens of thousands of women-owned businesses in Utah.

Business owners that want to be included in the directory, which has yet to go online, can fill out a form at http://business.wbcutah.org/member/newmemberapp/.

Connor Richards covers government, the environment and south Utah County for the Daily Herald. He can be reached at crichards@heraldextra.com and 801-344-2599.

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