Two San Diego leaders reflect on women’s rights, gender equality

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – Friday, March 8 is International Women’s Day. a day devoted to acknowledging the struggle for equal fights and justice for women. Rallies, marches and protests marked the day around the globe as a celebration of women’s achievements and a call for more equal rights.

In San Diego County, there are women leaders and decision makers in virtually every sector, including medicine, academics, and especially in government and public policy.

Dianne Jacob has been a County Supervisor for almost 27 years, serving as one of only six women elected to the Board of Supervisors since 1860.

Yvette Lopez-Cooper is the executive director of the Family Justice Center in San Diego, a comprehensive wrap-around resource center for survivors of domestic violence.

On this day, we asked for their thoughts about using their voices as advocates for women and how they were able to achieve their goals.

Lopez-Cooper grew up in Los Angeles, as the child of immigrants. She went to law school in San Diego, worked at the Department of Justice, and later practiced immigration law before becoming the head of the Family Justice Center. She credited a strong network for inspiring her path in life.

Jacob, a school teacher, was elected to the Board of Supervisors in 1992. In her first year as a Supervisor, she took on the ambitious goal of opening a jail in the South Bay, despite claims by other Supervisors that the County had no money. Jacob who won that fight said she earned a reputation as someone who had to be taken seriously.

KUSI’s Sasha Foo asked both women what they would tell younger women who dream of making a difference.

“I think it’s really important to never give up. I think it’s really important to stay positive. I think it’s really important to surround yourself with people you want to be like,” Lopez-Cooper said.

Jacob, who is serving her seventh term as a Supervisor offered this advice, “Yeah, you can do this, you can live your dream. I remember my mother always told me, ‘Where there’s a will, there’s a way.’ ”

Jacob said there’s no need for women to temper their ambitions. “If you perceive there’s a glass ceiling there or somebody says there’s one, just get a sledgehammer and bust it wide open.”

Categories: Local San Diego News