A Farewell to Women’s History Month
Just like last year, Women’s History Month (aka, March) got the best of me and I didn’t manage to post NEARLY as much content as I had originally intended.
For example, I had intended to write a post about CEDAW, and the epidemic that is gender-based violence, but I never got to. (Stay tuned, though, it’s still coming).
I meant to write up more profiles in history, but I never got the chance. I hope to be able to put up that content eventually as well, and why not? Why should women’s history be confined to one month? Women have been a part of the history of every society. We have played a role in numerous social movements, been a driving force behind several of them. Women’s history shouldn’t even BE a separate subject from the rest of history, and it is my goal to publish the rest of my women’s history month content at a later date.
In case I don’t, however, this blog had meant to post profiles of several more incredible women this month. I may write up their profiles, but if you’re curious, and you don’t want to wait, and you know I’m writing a senior thesis and may forget about this, they were as follows:
- bell hooks, a black lesbian feminist writer who helped to pioneer feminist standpoint theory and intersectional feminist theory
- Harriet Tubman, the famous slave-turned-abolitionist who served as a conductor on the Underground Railroad before slavery was eliminated in the United States
- Frida Khalo, a renowned Latina artist who made significant contributions to her field
- Nour Inayat Khan, an Indian Princess who risked her life as a spy for the UK/Allies during World War II
- Meena Keshwar Kamal, an Afghan feminist activist who founded the Revolutionary Association of Afghan Women, only to be assassinated in 1987
- Nurul Izzah Anwar, a Malaysian politician who has campaigned for political reform in her country
- Hawa Abdi, one of Somalia’s first female gynecologists who now runs a hospital with her own money
These are only a few of the incredible women who have previously or are currently shaping the course of history. There were others considered-~-Audre Lorde, Sojourner Truth, Rosa Parks, Indira Ghandi, Sonia Sotomayor, Toni Morrison, Anna Maria Chevez, Mary McLeod Bethune, Aung San Suu Kyi, Juana Inez de la Cruz…the list goes on and on (and there are obviously white women who played a part whom I chose not to include in my list this year).
The reality is that these women did not JUST shape the course of history for women: they changed the course of history, period. Every glass ceiling that these women broke told young women who looked like them that it was possible. Every reform that they pushed for impacted not just individual women, but their families and societies-~-everything from education to healthcare to political representation has made a major difference. When women are able to vote, they are better able to advocate for their children. When women are educated and able to engage in the labor market, they are better able to support their families and ensure the health and education of their children, breaking cycles of poverty. When women’s perspectives are incorporated into governance, the issues which impact women become harder to ignore. Around the world and throughout history, women have been shaping the stories of their home societies.
And those stories are still changing. Around the world, women are speaking up for their rights and fighting for the futures of their countries. While Elizabeth Warren advocates for an America where students are able to graduate from college without crippling death, Aung San Suu Kyi fights for democracy in Myanmar. In Rwanda, the country with the largest proportion of female elected representatives, women are working for peace, stability, and economic growth. Women are pioneering scientific discoveries and facilitating the development of people, organizations, and communities around the world. That doesn’t just go for women pursuing or prioritizing careers-~-women still do the majority of the work regarding child-rearing in every country across the globe, which means women are also helping to raise the next generation of thinkers and leaders, people who will in their own time change the story of our world.
Even if you only wanted to tell the story of women as they impacted women, that is a story you would need more than a month to teach. The battle for women’s rights has looked different and starred different individuals around the world. Our stories are interconnected, complicated, and important, and the version of history we tell now leaves out far too much.
Women’s History Month may be ending, but my point is this: women’s history is not. I hope that someday, women’s history will be taught as a part of the overarching narrative of history, that women’s accomplishments will be celebrated equally with men’s, that intersectionality will become the norm instead of something to be applauded. But in the meantime, I hope that this month has brought you all a chance to reflect on how far we’ve come, and examine how far we still have to go.
Happy Women’s History Month.