March is Women’s History Month. Though we should be aware of the contributions to life that women have made all of the time, March affords us an opportunity to give special attention to women’s contributions. Women make up one-half of the human family.
This month-long celebration has interesting origins. The first International Women’s History Day was celebrated in 1911, and in the United States, Women’s History Month traces its origins to that time. According to Wikipedia, Women’s History Week was celebrated in the school district of Sonoma, California in 1978. It was an event that was designed around the week March 8 (Women’s History Day). The next year, from July 13 to the 29th, a fifteen-day conference was held at Sarah Lawrence College on the topic of women’s history. The conference was chaired by historian Gerder Lerner. Ultimately, since 1995, annual proclamations have been issued by U.S. Presidents designating the month of March as Women’s History Month. In March 2011, the Barack Obama administration released a report, “Women in America: Indicators of Social and Economic Well-Being,” showing women’s status in the U.S. in 2011 and how it had changed over time. This report was the first comprehensive federal report on women since a report produced by the Commission on the Status of Women in 1963.” (Wikipedia)
One of the motivations for setting aside a time to celebrate women was the promotion of the equality of the sexes, especially in the classroom. Today, this notion has expanded to include a number of other areas, some seriously controversial. For example, some women in the armed forces are vying to enter combat in the same manner as men. Also, there is talk of instituting a draft; and if this becomes a reality, there are those who think that women should be included in it. These ideas may have merits for those who espouse them, but all women probably wouldn’t want to be included in a military draft. What the struggle for equality should entail is that of equal pay for equal work. It is not a secret that in the United States, women often earn a fraction of what men earn for the same job. In the African American community this becomes particularly damaging because a lot of Black families are headed by single females. Blocking women’s ability to increase their financial standard of living due to laws that discriminate against them, therefore, has the impact of lowering the standard of living for countless children raised in these families.
On another note, an African American philosopher/metaphysician said that women have not contributed ANYTHING to society. Another well-known African American male said that he truly believes that the only purpose for women on this planet is to give birth to, and raise, children. When you consider all of the things that women have actually done, however, including helping to liberate more than 300 slaves (Harriet Tubman), sparking the modern Civil Rights Movement (Rosa Parks); becoming entrepreneurs who have influenced the lives of many (Madam C.J. Walker, Oprah Winfrey); becoming one of the first to actually travel in space (Dr. Mae Jemison); founding media companies (TV One – Cathy Hughes); and initiators of the Black Lives Matter Movement (Patrisse Cullors, Opal Tometi, and Alicia Garza), it becomes obvious that the notion of non-contribution is ludicrous. It is even now known that all life on the planet can trace its origins to one lone female in Africa. We must understand that the consequences of thwarting the ambitions of women based on misperception and/or disinformation can be deleterious. Women have contributed greatly to the world, and many of them have worked in the shadows in order to help propel their men forward. Black women have been a driving engine behind the continuance and protection of the Black community, and to denigrate them would be to help retard Black progress. We need to proudly honor women, and especially Black women, in March and throughout the year. A luta continua.