SAN DIEGO — First held in 1978 during Pete Wilson's tenure as mayor, Women's Work Week focused on inequality for women in the work force. Now in it's eighth year, Women's Opportunities Week opens with questions for San Diego's first woman mayor, and continues with a week of programs that not only tells women how to get ahead in the work force, but how to enrich their lives outside of it.
"This year the emphasis is on trying to reach all women--the homemaker and mother as well as the career woman," said Colleen Johnson, director of WOW.
Nearly 350 events covering everything from health issues to recreation, vocational training and career climbing, fill a calendar that stretches from Saturday to Oct. 25.
"We wanted to reach women with all backgrounds, ages and experience," Johnson said, including those who don't work outside the home.
In 1978, she said, the greatest need was "women trying to get promoted or to get into the work place."
"Now that has started to happen. Women have called and written in for other programs and we have added them."
For the first time last year, disabled services around the county banded to present 11 programs for physically and developmentally disabled women, and this year the number of events in Disabled Women's Opportunities Week has swelled to 21. Programs include how-to seminars on self-defense and travel, and 30 physically disabled women will model fashions at the tower in Fashion Valley Shopping Center at 1 p.m. Saturday. Interpreters are available by request.
"Because a lot of WOW programs did not have interpeters for the deaf, and were not wheelchair-accessible, we feel we needed to round out that program," said Barbara Ramsey, publicity chairwoman. "Hopefully, at some point, it will be part of regular programming."
Opening night for Disabled Women's Opportunities Week is Thursday at the San Diego Hilton from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. All women and men are invited to mingle and network, Ramsey said.
WOW opening night, from 6 to 9:30 Friday at the Hotel Inter-Continental, begins with questions for Mayor Maureen O'Connor and continues with a mixer.
The week's programs, presented by businesses and educational, social and government agencies and schools, can be summed up in the name of a program offered at National University from 1 to 4 p.m. Monday, Ramsey said: "How to Win at Love, Work and Play."
There are seminars on health, family, education, minorities, safety, men, self-development, stress and management, in locations around the county.
"It is a good networking week. It can help homemakers get back into the work force or teach people how they can share their expertise (in volunteer work). It can also give people new ideas and goals in their life. And not just their work life. There is life after work," Ramsey said.
Government programs include advice on raising adolescents, "Home Purchasing With Confidence," the myths of menopause and starting a business at home. A job fair with more than 50 government agencies will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. today at the Balboa Park Club off Park Boulevard at Presidents Way.
Women can learn more about football, aquatic exercise, fiscal fitness or becoming an auto mechanic.
About 90% of the programs are free and many are $5 or less. A newspaper that lists the week's programs can be found at City Hall; the County Administration Center; city libraries in San Diego, National City and Chula Vista; at information centers in Horton Plaza, Mission Center Plaza and Fashion Valley; California First Bank in La Jolla; El Dorado Business School in Oceanside, and all National University branches. On Thursday and Monday, calendars will be handed out at Bonita Plaza.