Women’s History Month

Anna Wittenkeller, Staff Writer

Beginning as a local, week-long celebration known as Women’s History Week in Santa Rosa, California in 1978, Women’s History Month has become a nationwide movement to celebrate both the history and future of women in America.
Although March celebrates Women’s History Month, there are still many struggles women face that haven’t changed or have only changed slightly from past struggles. In the past, women suffered with lack of voting rights, inability to work outside of the home, sexual violence, marriage coverture, and sexual and reproductive rights.
Currently, women still struggle with sexual violence and harassment, domestic violence, and sexual and reproductive rights. While women can work out of the home, they face the gender pay gap and the phenomenon known as the Pink Tax (when their services and products tend to cost more than they do for men). Women’s History Month is a time to bring light to these struggles, while remembering they still happen year-round.
Nicole Robilotta, English teacher, says that Women’s History month is good because it makes people remember the struggles, but society as a whole should get to the point where it’s natural that these things are spoken about.
“Women’s History Month as well as other months dedicated to historically underrepresented groups help to fill in some of the gaps of traditional history that has often centered only those with power. It’s also a good reminder to take the opportunity to learn a bit more about these histories, honor our growth and progress as a country, as well as acknowledge and move forward with the work still left to do,” Robilotta said.
Another English teacher at South, Amy Brown, says celebrating Women’s History Month is about educating ourselves about women from our past and present who have helped pave the way for other women.
“I think about the sacrifices they made throughout their lives to help pave the way for women in the future. So I think that it’s important that we celebrate all those women. And a designated month for that is awesome,” Brown said.
Taryn Truppa, current senior, believes that recognizing the sacrifices of women of history is important during Women’s History Month.
“It is important to not only recognize, but remember the sacrifices of women who’ve come before us; essentially the reason why we are able to do what we do today,” said Truppa.
The women Truppa looks up to are women who make sacrifices today and have made sacrifices in the past.
“I look up to many strong women such as Taylor Swift, Ruby Bridges, Emma Watson, Malala, and Diana Spencer,” Truppa said.
The fight for equality, however, has a bright future, according to Brown.
“We can look at the last decade and see the ambition of these women and what they’ve accomplished. I look at the young faces of my students and I see that ambition in their faces as well, and that makes me hopeful for the future,” says Brown.
There are many notable young women emerging to fight for women’s rights, but also the general awareness of women’s struggles has risen. There is more of a push from younger generations to get involved in activism, whether it be online or in-person, and shape the future of womankind.
Each year, the National Women’s History Project selects a theme for the month. This year’s theme is “Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories,” which recognizes the women of the past and present who have been active in media and other forms of storytelling.
When thinking about women active in media, both Nikole Hannah-Jones and Clarissa Ward come to mind for Robilotta.
“Nikole Hannah-Jones is trying to tell stories that center Black Americans and highlight some of the history that’s been forgotten or overlooked. She’s become a target by people who are resistant to other forms of history,” Robilotta said. “Clarissa Ward is chief international correspondent from CNN. She’s remarkable because she’s reporting from war zones and in places that are hostile towards women. She tries to tell the stories of women in countries who are suffering under oppressive regimes.”
While Brown thinks of Oprah Winfrey when thinking about women active in storytelling, she also loves that she can turn on the news and see two female anchors.
“It used to be that it had to be a man and a woman, but now that’s not necessarily the case. You have women that are reporting the nightly news and that are running news stations, and even behind the scenes in production, and women should keep trying to fight for those opportunities. The more we fight for it, the more it will happen,” Brown says.
For students at South who wish to honor Women’s History Month, both Brown and Robilotta have advice on how that can be done.
“Students at South can support causes for women by first learning about women’s experiences and how patriarchy still influences our society and causes harm to not only women, girls, and non-binary people, but also (and significantly) to men and boys as well,” Robilotta said. Robilotta personally also tries to read and watch more from women’s voices, especially those from other marginalized experiences, during Women’s History Month.
Brown advises that becoming an advocate for change and joining the fight for equality is an important step to take.
“The realization is really important, especially for men and boys, that they, too, can join that fight and become feminists and want to fight for equality. And it’s not necessarily taking away from their own experiences, but just trying to forward the cause,” Brown said.
Truppa advises students at South to be kinder to one another and yourself, especially during this month.
“There will be people you will meet who will want to see you fail in every way possible, and there will be people who want to see you bloom and thrive. Be the bloom,” Truppa said.