Celebrating Women's History Month

In celebration of Women’s History Month, Women of Color Day, and International Women’s Day, we recognize the progress women have made over the years – in education, in political office, in boardrooms, and in our community – and there is still so much work to be done to achieve true equity for all women, especially for women of color and trans women. Here are 6 ways you can honor the contributions of women to history and contemporary society:

 

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#1. Identify and teach, from a diverse perspective, about important women in U.S. history and important periods in women’s history. Be sure to acknowledge the contributions of all kinds of women: women from different generations, women of color, lesbian and bi women, transgender and gender non-conforming women, women of different faiths, women who are immigrants and refugees, contemporary and historic, etc. Teach yourself, and then share the knowledge! Find ways to bring awareness about the significance of these women and events.
 

#2. Advocate for intersectional feminism. “Feminism” in main stream media is considered an ugly word and has been reduced to images of white suffragists and white women burning bras in the ‘60s. However, true feminism is the idea that we create a better future, free from oppression. That’s it. It’s the idea that we create a society in which we believe in the power of women just as much as we believe in the power of anything else. In order to do that, we have to be inclusive of all women. Everyone’s feminism should be intersectional – feminism must be completely inclusive and it cannot be separated from race, class, disability, gender, religion, sexual orientation, etc.
 

#3. No one else can tell our story better than us. We have our own lived experiences, intelligence, creativity, vision, and voice, and we should feel empowered to tell our stories. We owe it to ourselves, and all of the women after us, to recognize how amazing and powerful women are.
 

#4. Read books about and by women, primarily women of color. Women of color and LGBTQ women are often marginalized even within discussions about women’s history. Fortunately, there’s a lot of great reading material out there that expands these discussions to be more inclusive of all women. Here are 10 suggestions:

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1. Women, Race, and Class by Angela Y. Davis. A classic must-read for any intersectional feminist, it takes a look at the very issues of exclusion that have hindered the feminist movement since abolition.

2. Woman, Native, Other by Trinh T. Minh-ha. In this bold book, Min-ha argues for a feminism that fights against oppression of all kinds.

3. This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color by Cherríe Moraga and Gloria Anzaldúa. This anthology has got essays, interviews, poetry, and even visual art from radical women of color.

4. On Intersectionality by Kimberlé Crenshaw. A book on intersectionality straight from the woman who coined the term!

5. Assata by Assata Shakur. This autobiography is a personal testament to a broken, racist justice system. By the end, you’ll be outraged, angry, and ready for revolution.

6. Sex Workers Unite! A History of the Movement from Stonewall to Slutwalk by Melinda Chateauvert. Chateauvert showcases sex workers as empowered, legitimate workers, and powerful agents of social change throughout history.

7. Gathering of Spirit: A Collection by North American Indian Woman by Beth Brant is the first anthology of Native American women’s writing edited by a Native American woman. Brant has several poetry and essay collections on Mohawk identity, queerness, and feminism

8. Daring to Be Myself: A Memoir by Laverne Cox. Laverne Cox uses her own experiences as a transgender woman of color to speak and write about the importance of human rights.

9. Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur. Rupi Kaur highlights the strength of all women through her outstanding poetry

10. Gender Trouble by Judith Butler. Canon to any Gender Studies course, Butler questions the very notion of gender and sexuality as a part of feminism in this groundbreaking work. Since then, Butler’s reconsidered some of her ideas in newer books that are also worth reading but this is a good place to start.

Challenge: Beyond reading and discussing literature by and about women, explore other forms of art by and about women or watch and discuss films about women.

../Downloads/to-be-a-feminist-is-to-do-feminism-take-action--coffee-mug-white.jpg#5. Partner with your Women’s or Gender Centers on campus or Gender Studies Department to do educational programming. Discuss sexism, oppression, and the struggle for equity – and inspire others to TAKE ACTION! While it’s important not to focus exclusively on issues of discrimination, it is important to teach your students about historical and current issues around sexism, misogyny, and the struggle for equity. In teaching Women’s history Month, provide a balanced perspective. It is important to acknowledge both the struggle and triumphs of women in the fight for equity. And, it is important to acknowledge how far we’ve come and how far we have yet to go.

#6. Show gratitude to the all the women who have come before you. We stand on the shoulders of giants. Many women paved the way and made it possible for us to be where we are today, to do and pursue what we like to do, and to have the freedom of choice. Send a note of gratitude to a woman family member, mentor, former supervisor, friend, colleague, representative, or community member.

Although Women’s History Month takes place during the month of March, it is important to acknowledge the history and accomplishments of women throughout the year. As we celebrate Women’s History Month, let us lift up the voices, contributions, and bravery of women in the margins. What are ways you will be celebrating and honoring women this month?

Jessika Chi is Director of Business Operations for OWHE and Program Manager for Institutional Diversity at Reed College. Connect with her on Twitter @jessikachi.

Connect with Women Leaders

Networking with women leaders in the state of Oregon will enhance your professional experience. We look forward to creating opportunities for women to meet, connect and develop together.

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Participate in opportunities for professional growth through educational programs that are provided by our campus contact network right on your campus, in your region or at a state wide gathering. The focus is on providing you with the leadership skills and mentoring necessary to lead.

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Higher education in the state of Oregon provides a dynamic environment where women can impact change. Whether in the community college, 4-year institution, public, or private, we want you to be a part of shaping the future of higher education by empowering and affirming your leadership abilities.