Women’s History Month comes every March, but now that my daughter is past her baby stage, I plan to be more intentional about how I share monumental and powerful moments in history that will ultimately shape her story every day.
Visiting the Women’s History Month website I am personally inspired by the interest to “honor the past, inform the present, and inspire the future.” The Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative (AWHI) has a purpose to help share the stories of American women who have shaped the present and future and have #BecauseOfHerStory to allow all of us to learn more about the women we follow. Women like:
- Williamina Fleming – Her story proved women could not only do as good but honestly better when she was brought in to assist in a Harvard Observatory – paving the way for women in STEM.
- Marian Anderson – Her story is one of breaking barriers as not only a phenomenal singer but also promotion of unity through the civil rights movement, performing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and for the New York’s Metropolitan Opera, both instances as the first African American woman to do so.
- Sandra Day O’Connor – Her story is one of strength, power, esteem and fairness as the first woman to serve as a Supreme Court justice (paving the way for the Notorious RBG, literally my favorite woman in the world).
- Concepcion “Concha” Sanchez – Her story of innovation, creation and work in a time when “women’s work” was usually limited to simply housework. As a Mexican immigrant supporting her family, she created a machine to help her make more tortillas, which demonstrated that women could problem solve and develop and, of course, make one of my favorite things in the world.
As a white woman, I am especially grateful for the effort spent to highlight African American women’s experiences. As an example, and given the recent focus on legislation to prevent discrimination of someone’s hair, I love the feature “All These Pieces of Who I Am” with a quote reminding us that:
“Every woman has a hair journey, every girl has a hair journey, and black girls have our own special hair journey.”
This year’s Women’s History Month theme, “Valiant Women of the Vote,” speaks volumes to me, as 2020 is a year in which women must speak up through their power to vote. Susan B. Anthony is quoted as saying, “There will never be complete equality until women themselves make the laws and elect the lawmakers.”
While it’s easy to say it’s “just one vote” – half the country didn’t vote in our last presidential election. This is not a political post, I promise, but those who did not vote expressed just as much of an opinion as those that did. Their voice is heard in my ears as indifference, as an impression of lesser value or worth, or a feeling that they can’t make a difference. The National Women’s History Museum has a great amount of information on their Crusade for the Vote page, and I have yet to vote without my daughter by my side, so she knows I am doing my part to help her story unfold.
Women have shaped much of the history in America, though often quietly behind male spokespeople and leaders, but it was Jimmy Carter who said, “…the achievements, leadership, courage, strength and love of the women who built America was as vital as that of the men whose names we know so well,” as he designated Women’s History Week, which is now celebrated all month long.
Myra Pollack Sadker said, “Each time a girl opens a book and reads a womanless history, she learns she is worthless,” but I disagree. I show my daughter that we have come a long way, and there is plenty of room to grow. I intend to teach my daughter that her story can be anything she wants it to be. Her story may be grand or completely low key and average, but regardless, she has power. Power to be herself. Power to make choices and decisions that suit her. Power to have her voice heard.
Her story is at least a page longer than the stories of the women before her, and I look forward to helping her use that power in whatever way she chooses.