March is Women’s History Month, a time highlighting the contributions of women to history, society, and the world.
Women’s History Month started in 1981 when congress passed Pub. L. 97-28, which proclaimed the week of March 7th “Women’s History Week”, by 1994 it had spread to the entire month. This month also includes International Women’s Day, March 8th, and holds many important milestones towards gender equality, such as Title IX being passed, which prohibits sex discrimination in the workplace, and The Equal Rights Amendment.
From Anne Frank to Malala Yousafzai, women in history are becoming more and more known. While it’s easy to say it’s 2020 and these celebrations of empowerment are no longer needed, it’s only been about 100 years since women got the right to vote- only 48 since Title IX was passed- and there’s still a lot of discrimination in our world today.
One in three women experience some form of gender-based violence. In the Middle East “honor killings” are still practiced on women said to have brought dishonor to their family, and in Sudan, the legal age of marriage for girls is ten, but the U.S also has its own share of gender-based problems.
The first Women’s March in 2017 was the largest single-day protest in history, so it’s no surprise the U.S, despite having multiple protections from gender discrimination, still has a long way to go.
“As a kid I saw women as weak, so I stopped wearing dresses in public and only wore them in my home. I started wearing jeans and shorts and I hated it but it wasn’t pink so I was tough in my eyes.” ” said freshmen Veronica McGovern.
Only 24% of Congress is female, 25% of the Senate, and only 23% of the House of Representatives.
For every dollar a man makes a woman makes only 89 cents.
One in five women have experienced attempted or completed rape at some point in their lives.
Women in minorities are at an even greater risk of discrimination. 22% of black women have reported sexual assault, and violence against transgender women- particularly those of color- is on the rise.
Even with all these big issues, the most prevalent discrimination our country possesses is in our everyday lives.
“As a girl growing up, sexism has been around forever it feels. I’ve been told I couldn’t play basketball as good, I couldn’t throw because of my gender,” said freshman Jayden Johnson.
“I grew up with a lot of guy friends… we always liked playing [Star Wars],” said sophomore Hannah Adamo, “they always had me play Leia because I was a girl and I couldn’t “do all the stunts and tricks” they could… It just goes to show how kids unintentionally stereotype and everything…”
It starts as ‘he’s only being mean because he likes you’ in elementary school and morphs into men calling out at women on the street. Stopping catcalling, double standards, ‘go back to the kitchen’ jokes, and the negative misconceptions about being a feminist are the first steps towards ending casual sexism.
This Women’s History Month check out the women of the past who helped shape our history. There’s still a long way to go in the fight for gender equality, but we’re getting there. With more and more women’s stories being told the new generation can come into a world free of gender discrimination.
“I understand that “basic” and “I’m not like other girls” is just for people who seek male approval and I don’t need anyone’s approval to be me,” said McGovern, “and I look great in dresses.”
Photo credit: Finn Swanson, made with Snapseed
World Health Organization “Violence against Women” https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/violence-against-women
Pew Research Organization “The narrowing, but persistent, gender gap in pay”
CAWP “Women in the U.S. Congress 2019” https://www.cawp.rutgers.edu/women-us-congress-2019
NSVRC “Sexual Assault statistics” https://www.nsvrc.org/node/4737
National Center for Victims of Crime “About Sexual Assault” https://victimsofcrime.org/our-programs/past-programs/dna-resource-center/untested-sexual-assault-kits/about-sexual-assault
HRC “Violence Against the Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Community in 2019” https://www.hrc.org/resources/violence-against-the-transgender-community-in-2019