Why we need Women’s History Month

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email

It is important and necessary to study and celebrate women’s history because too often the work and contributions of women are hidden. Just a few examples may suffice to substantiate the point. 

(1) Many of the initiatives of Franklin Roosevelt came from his wife, Eleanor Roosevelt, but her role was not revealed until years after they both were dead. 

(2) It took a book and a movie to get the truth out that much of the mathematics that enabled John Glenn to be launched into space and returned was performed by the Black woman, Katherine Johnson and the team behind her, which included two other Black women, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson. 

(3) There was Ella Baker, the mastermind behind the organization and operation of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and other movement work that was assumed to have been done by the men.

Women’s History Month must be poised to step-in to uncover and celebrate such work. It helps to show that often in a literal sense, behind many accomplished men were brilliant, but neglected, women.

Along that same line, it is an important task of Women’s History Month to spotlight, champion, and celebrate women such as Marian Wright Edelman, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Ida B. Wells for the work that they did and the importance of the work. Often times, especially in a world such as exists today, people may know, but tend to forget, when a Black person, an unlettered person, or a woman makes a GREAT contribution. Because of that tendency, they continue to see such individuals as “less than.” Women’s history must be about the business of lifting up women so that it is clear that they are just as capable in every sense of the word and across the spectrum of human endeavors.

As important as it is to shine the light and remind people that women are capable and co-equals with men, it is also important that women’s history raise up the other half of the problem. For every woman that is recognized, there are hundreds of others who never get the chance to develop, to achieve and contribute, or to shine. These women, who form the masses, are held back by both individual actors and by institutions and structures in the society. They are often the working class that is used, trampled, and forgotten. 

What is fairly common knowledge is that in many categories of human life there exists disparities between men and women. If one keeps in mind that females have long constituted more than 51% of the American population, it is easy to identify those areas where they are underrepresented. 

The most obvious are perhaps in the fields of politics and economics. No matter the level of government, men far exceed women as office-holders. Women may be making progress, but there has never been a woman president and only one vice president. There have been only a handful of female governors and senators. During the lifetime of most Americans, there have been only a few women Supreme Court justices. The list goes on and on. 

If one looks at the military, it is only recently that women were fully admitted as soldiers, sailors, and airmen. Even now, women marines are hard to find, as females who have been promoted to the rank of general. 

There are now a few women chief executive officers of major corporations. That is just the way of the world. Even in the field of education, which is often considered a “female occupation,” the superintendents and principals are more likely to be men than women. 

What one is witnessing in all of this is often the bias of the controlling boards and hiring officers and of voters. There are often anti-sexism laws on the books, but those with wealth, power, and positions know how to skirt the laws. 

Aside from the built-in biases, many people do not talk about the sexual harassment and exploitation that goes on in the workplace. It continues on today. The accusation of Anita Hill against Clarence Thomas was not an isolated incident. Such sexual harassment and exploitation have robbed many women of advancement. (Of course, the opposite side of the coin is that there have been women who have used their sexuality to their employment advantage. When that happens, it often denies some other woman an opportunity to succeed based upon her competency). 

Equally as negative for women is the existence of violence and intimidation. That is often a domestic problem, but even then, it can affect productivity in the workplace. On the other hand, if and when one considers how laws are used to control women’s bodies in terms of pregnancies, it can be understood as a societal matter. 

The point is that women’s history, especially this month, should rightly focus on these factors that cause women to be less productive and creative as they otherwise could be; that put them in a much worse light than they should be.

Finally, studying women’s history and celebrating the month should increasingly be directed toward helping promote the kind of view of solidarity, of family, the human family that is, and of justice, that it becomes increasingly difficult for politicians, businesspersons, and ordinary citizens to deny the truth that America’s laws, policies, and practices must change. Subsequently, that should make it increasingly difficult for them to refuse to make those changes. Meanwhile, the history of social struggle can be used to show that even the toughest of metals can be worn-down and re-shaped if the actors keep working on it. 

Republish This Story

Copy and Paste the below text.

Why we need Women’s History Month

By Dr. Ivory Phillips
April 1, 2024