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Mayor Bowser Celebrates Women's Equality Day

(Washington, DC) – Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser and the Mayor’s Office on Women’s Policy and Initiatives (MOWPI) hosted the 9th annual Women’s Equality Day Mixer. Each year, the event celebrates the day women were granted the right to vote on August 26, 1920, when the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution was certified as law.
“Every year, our Women’s Equality Day mixer is a celebration of progress as well as a celebration of the people in our community who are making DC a more equal and inclusive place for women and girls to live, work, and thrive,” said Mayor Bowser. “We are very focused on making sure more women can take their dreams and turn them into real business opportunities. We are making sure that more women in DC know about programs like the Locally Made Manufacturing Grant Program, our new Venture Capital Grant Program, and our Food Access Fund – programs that support women, strengthen our local economy, and allow small businesses to open and expand in our neighborhoods.”
This year’s event put the focus on women entrepreneurs and small business owners and featured business support, networking opportunities and headshots, and information about grant opportunities. District officials shared information about programs such as the Locally Made Manufacturing Grant program, which supports businesses that manufacture products in DC; a new Venture Capital Grant Program, which will provide equity seed capital to local entrepreneurs and invest in underrepresented founders; and the Food Access Fund, which provides funding to food businesses to open new locations in Wards 7 and 8.
The Women’s Equality Day Mixer took place at Sycamore & Oak on the St. Elizabeths East campus. Opened in June 2023, Sycamore & Oak is a 22,000-square-foot retail village that houses thirteen local businesses – all owned by residents of Wards 7 and 8. Sycamore & Oak offered emerging Black entrepreneurs and local business owners access to an “Incubate the Eight Program,” which provides technical and marketing support and training to help business owners sustain and scale up their food and retail businesses. All of the businesses at Sycamore & Oak are Black-owned and nearly half are women-owned and operated.
During the event, the Mayor announced that the BLACK GIRLS ROCK! FEST (BGR!FEST), which has been held in the District since 2019, would return to the Kennedy Center in 2024 but under a new partnership with MOWPI and the Office of Cable Television, Film, Music and Entertainment (OCTFME). Curated by CEO and founder Beverly Bond, BGR!FEST features concerts, discussions, and workshops and serves as one of the premiere global destination events to celebrate the voices of women around the world. Through the partnership with MOWPI and OCTFME, BGR!FEST will be an even bigger celebration that will include concerts, a speaker series, workshops, youth activations, sponsor showcases, community events, and more. For the first time, the festival will also include a Black Cloud Tech Network Summit opportunity for District students, entrepreneurs, and young professionals to network and create more career pathways for women and girls in the tech industry.  
“On Behalf of Mayor Muriel Bowser, we will continue to empower our District’s women of excellence by working with partners like BLACK GIRLS ROCK! to support leadership, community engagement, and most importantly, sisterhood,” said Natasha Dupee, Director of the Mayor’s Office on Women’s Policy and Initiatives. “Community engagement is one of our driving forces, so we are excited to help showcase Black women who push boundaries through creative and artistic expression.”

“Since 2015, Mayor Bowser has been a champion for Black women in leadership, especially in non-traditional roles, such as entertainment,” said LaToya Foster, Director of the Office of Cable Television, Film, Music, and Entertainment. “We’re excited to partner with Mayor Bowser, MOWPI, and Beverly Bond of BLACK GIRLS ROCK! to create more jobs and opportunities, and give Black women a ‘fair shot,’ in the words of Mayor Bowser, in the media and entertainment industries.”
“BLACK GIRLS ROCK! is thrilled to expand BGR!FEST 2024 into a citywide celebration in Washington, DC in partnership with Mayor Muriel Bowser, the Mayor’s Office on Women’s Policy and Initiatives, and the Office of Cable Television, Film, Music and Entertainment,” said Beverly Bond, Founder of Black Girls Rock. “The collaboration spanning multiple venues with a range of dynamic events allows us to integrate the significance of Black women's contributions during DC’s Women's History Month and International Women’s Day Weekend. It's an honor to join forces with Mayor Bowser and the city. Together, our aim is to spotlight Black women's voices, enhance cultural vibrancy, and drive unity and economic prosperity in the heart of DC, creating a lasting, global impact.”
To learn more about grant programs and resources to support local business owners, visit
For more information on BGR!FEST, visit here.


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