Recognizing and uplifting intersectional women during Women’s History Month and beyond

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A portrait of some of the most iconic females in women’s history. International women’s Day, celebrated annually on March 8th, seeks to empower women across the globe and commemorate past and current achievements. Photo courtesy of U.S Studies Online.

The passage of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920 is one of the landmark events in the women’s rights movement, granting women in the United States the right to vote. The women’s rights movement is still going strong as women across the country, around the world and in other marginalized communities continue to face unequal socioeconomic and political treatment. International Women’s Day, celebrated annually on March 8, seeks to empower women across the globe and commemorate past and current achievements. Women’s History Month, commemorated in the United States every March, honors the contributions of women across a variety of fields, as well as their continuous fight for equal treatment. 

“We realize the importance of our voice when we are silenced,” Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani women’s and human rights activist and 2014 Nobel Peace Prize winner, says in her autobiographical book, “I Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education.”  

“We realize the importance of our voice when we are silenced.”

Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani women’s and human rights activist

The National Women’s History Alliance seeks to capture that sentiment with their theme for Women’s History Month this year: “Valiant Women of the Vote: Refusing to Be Silenced.” The theme is a continuation of 2020’s theme for the “Suffrage Centennial.” The organization, expanded from the original National Women’s History Project started in 1980, promotes women’s history and is “committed to the goals of education, empowerment, equality and inclusion,” as shared in their mission statement. Not only does the theme highlight the importance of learning about women’s history and their current accomplishments, but specifically strives to feature the intersection of women. 

“Multicultural American women are overlooked in most mainstream approaches to U.S. history,” NWHA says about the 2021 theme. “The National Women’s History Alliance is determined that the important roles of multicultural suffragists and voting rights activists continue to be recognized and honored. We refuse to allow their voices to be silenced, even by a pandemic.” 

“The National Women’s History Alliance is determined that the important roles of multicultural suffragists and voting rights activists continue to be recognized and honored. We refuse to allow their voices to be silenced, even by a pandemic.”

The National Women’s History Alliance

Groups like NWHA and the National Women’s History Museum offer a variety of resources and are hosting various events throughout the month for women’s history education and women’s rights advocacy. NWHM provides a resource toolkit with different online exhibits, biographies and articles to check out every day of the month, such as a live Q&A with the filmmakers of “And She Could Be Next” on March 15 and the online exhibit “Representation with a Hyphen: Latinas in the Fight for Women’s Suffrage” on March 17.  

In 1978, a local celebration in Santa Rosa, California was planned during the week of International Women’s Day, a practice that was adopted across the country. According to the Library of Congress, in 1981, Congress authorized and requested the President to designate the week beginning March 7, 1982 as “Women’s History Week” after a local celebration in Santa Rosa, California was planned  a practice that continued for five years. The first Women’s History Month was honored in 1987 after the National’s Women’s History Project (now NWHM) petitioned Congress.  

“We draw strength and inspiration from those who came before us – and those remarkable women working among us today.”

The National Women’s History Alliance

Notable women that played a role in the women’s suffrage movement and abolitionist movement that gave rise to it include Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Sojourner Truth and Ida B. Wells-Barnett. The women’s suffrage movement overlapped with the advocacy of marginalized groups such as the Civil Rights Movement. NWHM also highlights five women every month “that have, and continue to make, history”; this month, they are featuring activists Sylvia Rivera, Stacey Abrams, Anna Arnold Hedgeman, Pauli Murray and Cori Bush. They also provide a variety of internet resources relating to women’s empowerment.  

“We draw strength and inspiration from those who came before us – and those remarkable women working among us today,” NWHA says. “They are a part of our story, and a truly balanced and inclusive history recognizes how important women have always been in American society.”  

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