Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Women’s History Month’

The saying “what’s old is new again” popped into my mind as I reflected recently on the passing of yet another March honoring women in history. I love history in all forms, about all subjects, and one constant in our ever-changing world is the vicious cycle of history repeating itself. As I read the headlines on women’s issues today, my thoughts ranged from I thought women had obtained that right years ago to horror as I read examples of women’s rights abuses on such an extensive global scale. Type “women’s rights” into any online search engine, and you’ll see what I mean.

To show this cycle of repeating history, I found a few quotes that continue to resonate. Special thanks to the Women in World History curriculum for some of the older quotes. Laugh, frown, get inspired, or groan as you read, and then share one or more of your favorite quotes.

 

“If women are expected to do the same work as men, we must teach them the same things.” — Plato (427 B.C.–347 B.C.)

 

“My honor was not yielded, but conquered merely.” — Cleopatra (69 B.C.–30 B.C.)

 

“Who has forbidden women to engage in private and individual studies? Have they not a rational soul as men do? … I have this inclination to study, and if it is evil, I am not the one who formed me thus — I was born with it, and with it I shall die.” — Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz (1651–1695)

 

“Women have the right to mount the scaffold; they should likewise have the right to mount the rostrum.” — Olympe de Gouges, (1748–1793)

 

“By the way, in the new code of laws, which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make, I desire you would remember the ladies, and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors … If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.” — Abigail Adams (1744–1818)

 

“I do not think I ever opened a book in my life which had not something to say upon woman’s inconstancy. Songs and proverbs, all talk of woman’s fickleness,” [said Captain Harville]. “But perhaps, you will say, these were all written by men.”

“Perhaps I shall,” [said Anne Elliott]. “Yes, yes, if you please, no reference to examples in books. Men have had every advantage of us in telling their own story. Education has been theirs in so much higher a degree; the pen has been in their hands. I will not allow books to prove anything.” — Jane Austen, Persuasion (1775–1817)

 

“We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal.” — Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815–1902)

 

“When the true history of the anti-slavery cause shall be written, women will occupy a large space in its pages, for the cause of the slave has been peculiarly woman’s cause.” — Frederick Douglass (1818–1895)

 

“Today, the two hundred million men in our country are entering into a civilized new world. But we, the two hundred million women, are still kept down in the dungeon.” — Qiu Jin, (1875–1907)

 

“Birth control is the first important step woman must take toward the goal of her freedom. It is the first step she must take to be man’s equal. It is the first step they must both take toward human emancipation.” — Margaret Sanger (1879–1966)

 

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” — Eleanor Roosevelt (1884–1962)

 

“People call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat or a prostitute.” — Cicely Isabel Fairfield, pen name Rebecca West (1892–1983)

 

“I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.” — Rosa Parks (1913–2005)

 

“This woman’s place is in the House — the House of Representatives.” — Bella Abzug (1920–1998)

 

“In too many instances, the march to globalization has also meant the marginalization of women and girls. And that must change.” — Hillary Rodham Clinton

 

“More countries have understood that women’s equality is a prerequisite for development.” — Kofi Annan, June 2000

 

“What does it say about the college co-ed Susan Fluke [sic] who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex — what does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute.” Rush Limbaugh, February 2012

 

“Society will not abide by such laws until we get rid of that which is our tradition and stems from our Christian mentality: Man is the higher being, as woman was made from Adam’s rib. Consequently, she is the lesser being.” — Volydymyr Lytvyn, speaker of the Ukrainian parliament, March 2012

Read Full Post »

In honor of Women’s History Month, we’ve been talking about women who are missing from the history books — women like Claudette Colvin, who refused to give up her seat on the bus months before Rosa Parks’ famous protest.

As March draws to a close, let’s talk about the women who are writing their own chapters in history right now. Without further ado, here is a selection of the women you nominated as today’s change makers.

Activists

These women have dedicated their lives to making a difference, and their work is changing the world as we know it.

Sandra Fluke — What started as a snub by a congressional committee chair has turned into an all-out barrage against a woman who just wanted to testify about the importance of accessible contraception. We’re very proud to know Fluke, and we can’t wait to see what she does next.

Angela Davis In the 1960s, Davis emerged as a prominent social activist when she was placed on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted Fugitives list and jailed for suspected involvement in an abduction and murder case. She was eventually acquitted of all charges, but she often draws upon her experiences when she writes and lectures about the social injustices embedded in the U.S. prison system.

Judith Plaskow — Plaskow was the first Jewish feminist to identify herself as a theologian. Her work has influenced Jewish religious conversations, as well as the feminist theologies of other religions. She has also supported the next generation of women scholars as a selection panelist for AAUW’s American Fellowship program.

Politicians

These women are breaking through barriers by becoming the first women to hold such high positions and by changing the way governments address both women leaders and women’s issues.

Hillary Clinton — Clinton faced an onslaught of media attention as a presidential hopeful in 2008. She ultimately conceded her party’s nomination to Barack Obama, but she’s made her mark with poise and leadership as the U.S. secretary of state.

Johanna Sigurdardottir — As Iceland’s first woman prime minister and the world’s first openly gay head of state, Sigurdardottir is a feminist force who is working to make her country “female friendly.”

Nancy Pelosi — After serving as the first woman speaker of the House during the 111th Congress, Pelosi is credited for leading one of the “most productive sessions of Congress.” Now that congressional job approval ratings are so low, it’s hard to believe that her term was only two years ago.

Careers

Watch out, world. These ladies are leading their industries and show no signs of slowing down.

Annie Leibovitz — A world-famous portrait photographer, Leibovitz has captured the essence of many famous people, both alive and dead. One notable photograph is her 1991 Vanity Fair cover of the nude and pregnant Demi Moore, which challenged perceptions of beauty and pregnancy.

Christine Lagarde — The first woman managing director of the International Monetary Fund, Lagarde inherited an institution in crisis and was responsible for overseeing multi-billion euro bailouts of several countries. In 2011, Forbes ranked her 39th on its list of the world’s most powerful people.

Jane Goodall — Goodall’s research on chimpanzees has fundamentally changed scientific thinking about the relationship between humans and other mammals. She founded the Jane Goodall Institute to inspire action on behalf of endangered species and environments.

Entertainment

Using their fame and fortune to make a difference, these women entertainers have brought unprecedented attention to their causes.

Lady Gaga — Outrageous antics make singer Lady Gaga stand out, but her identity as a one-time victim of bullying has made her an icon for the “disaffected, discriminated, and downtrodden.” The Born This Way Foundation, which she founded with her mother, empowers youth to accept who they are and to stand up for themselves.

Angelina Jolie — A wild child turned devoted humanitarian, Jolie is a U.N. peace ambassador and a spokeswoman for global aid and starvation. She founded the Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation in 2003 as part of her mission to eradicate poverty and promote sustainability around the world.

Thanks to everyone who took part in our women’s history polls. After reading our list, who else do you expect our great-great grandchildren to be talking about in their history classes? Tell us in the comments section. And thank you for celebrating Women’s History Month with us!

This post was written by AAUW Marketing and Communications Intern Marie Lindberg.

Read Full Post »

In honor of Women’s History Month, I believe it’s important to recognize women’s natural affinity for leadership.

The formal definition of a leader is a person who directs, commands, or serves as a guiding head of a group or activity. I take it a step further — to me, a leader is someone who motivates and inspires others.

In my own leadership roles — as a high school drum major, a research and academic mentor, and president of numerous clubs and organizations — I have been responsible for providing instructions, making decisions for my team, and most importantly, guiding others. Of those tasks, the one that represents true leadership is guidance. A good leader teaches, inspires, and guides others in the right direction.

Women are strong, nurturing, caring, and compassionate. We are brilliant, we are the backbones of households, and we provide guidance as mothers, sisters, aunts, and friends. We are confidants and good listeners, and we go above and beyond to seek solutions to problems. We are charming and witty, and we have the ability to effortlessly convince others to see our point of view! Many of these elements are also used to describe leaders. The experiences of being a woman and a leader are inextricably linked. Leadership is an innate quality for women, and it comes as no surprise that we can be found leading in various capacities.

Former first lady Rosalynn Smith Carter once said, “A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go but ought to be.”

Ladies, continue to use your natural talents to guide and inspire other women to be leaders. Students, you can grow as leaders this summer at the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders near Washington, D.C. Early-bird registration runs through April 13.

This post was written by National Student Advisory Council member Joy Agee.

Read Full Post »

I wasn’t going to walk off that bus voluntarily.

These words were spoken by Claudette Colvin during an interview with NPR in 2009. Her remarkable civil rights story was overlooked for decades. But finally, writer Philip Hoose won her trust and wrote about this little-known pioneer in African American women’s history. Now, the full story of a 15-year-old girl’s contribution to the civil rights movement is finally getting its time in the sun. Hoose’s book, Claudette Colvin: Twice toward Justice, details Colvin’s story of courage and humility.

Like most people, I was taught that it was Rosa Parks’ civil disobedience — she refused to give up her bus seat to a white man — that sparked the Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott in 1955. I felt a sense of pride that this black woman was strong enough to stand up to white racists with quiet dignity and strength. There was so little taught about black history in school that everyone I knew was just glad to have someone to admire. Parks remains a global symbol.

But more than nine months before Parks’ arrest, a 15-year-old high school student, Claudette Colvin, was taken into custody when she refused to relinquish her seat on a Montgomery bus. It happened on March 2, 1955, during Negro History Week, when Colvin learned about the 14th Amendment and equal protection under the law. Hoose’s book tells how Colvin, who boarded the bus with other students from Booker T. Washington High School, refused to move from her seat for white passengers, even after the bus driver ordered her to. She yelled, “It’s my constitutional right.” Those were powerful words to be uttered by a young girl. Students’ daily lives were affected by injustices under the Jim Crow segregation laws — they couldn’t eat at lunch counters or even try on clothes in a store. Colvin had had enough.

About her motivation, Colvin remembered:

My head was just too full of black history, you know, the oppression that we went through. It felt like Sojourner Truth was on one side pushing me down, and Harriet Tubman was on the other side of me pushing me down. I couldn’t get up.

The driver called the police, who dragged Colvin off the bus. She was thrown into a police car and handcuffed.

All ride long, they swore at me and ridiculed me. They took turns trying to guess my bra size. They called me “ni–er bitch” and cracked jokes about parts of my body. I recited the Lord’s Prayer and the 23rd Psalm over and over in my head, trying to push back the fear.

Colvin’s arrest was major news, and some thought that it was time to take the issue of bus segregation to the courts. But despite her bravery, initially she was overlooked. Many reasons have been offered over the years — she was too dark-skinned, too young, her family lived in the poorer part of town — but when Colvin became pregnant by an older, married man a few months later, the decision was made. Civil rights leaders felt that it would be difficult for her to undergo the scrutiny required for a legal case.

Months later, 42-year-old National Association for the Advancement of Colored People secretary, seamstress, and respectable married woman Rosa Parks took historic action on a Montgomery bus, which led to the boycott that lasted more than a year. Colvin, who was active in the NAACP’s Youth Council, knew Parks and was advised by her.

Ultimately, Colvin joined Aurelia Browder, Susie McDonald, and Mary Louise Smith as a plaintiff in a suit challenging Montgomery’s segregated public transportation system, a case known as Browder v. Gayle. On June 19, 1956, a three-judge panel ruled that Montgomery segregation codes “deny and deprive plaintiffs and other Negro citizens similarly situated of the equal protection of the laws and due process of law secured by the 14th Amendment.” The U.S. Supreme Court would use this case to strike down bus segregation on December 21, 1956.

Colvin now lives in New York City, where she moved after leaving Alabama in 1958. She is retired and is finally getting the recognition she deserves. The next time you see a school, park, or highway named in honor of Rosa Parks, remember Claudette Colvin and how her bravery and sacrifice changed our country, too.

Read Full Post »

As part of Women’s History Month, we asked you to tell us about the women in history who have influenced you as well as the women who you think are missing from the pages of history books. Well, the votes are in! Here are some of our favorite results. If we missed someone, remind us in the comments section or on Twitter using the hashtag #wmnhist.

Margaret Bourke-White, photojournalist

Women journalists were not common in the 1920s, when Margaret Bourke-White was hired as the first-ever woman photojournalist. She was the first staff photographer for Fortune and LIFE magazines. Bourke-White worked in combat zones during World War II, when she earned her title as the first woman war correspondent. She was also the first Western photographer allowed into the Soviet Union.

Rachel Carson, ecologist

A 1956 AAUW Achievement Award winner, Rachel Carson has been called the mother of the modern environmental movement. Though controversial at the time, her research and writing on waterways and ecosystems — especially her 1962 book Silent Spring — shed light on the long-term effects of abusing the environment and called for a change in the way we view the natural world. In writing about the dangers of the insecticide DDT, she cautioned us about the threats humanity poses to the environment.

Marian Anderson, singer

Marian Anderson was a contralto — the deepest classical singing voice for women. She broke many barriers for women of color in the arts when she became the first African-American singer to perform as a member of the Metropolitan Opera in New York City and at two presidential inaugurations. She also served as a goodwill ambassador with the U.S. State Department from 1957 to1958.

Rosalind Franklin, scientist

Rosalind Franklin researched and discovered vital information that led to the understanding of the structure of DNA at a time when the university climate was not particularly friendly toward women. The sexism she encountered at her lab eventually drove her to find a new research group, where she laid the foundation for the study of structural virology.

Margaret Sanger, nurse

Margaret Sanger spent her life challenging the Comstock laws, anti-obscenity legislation that restricted the distribution of contraceptives. In 1916, Sanger was arrested for opening the first birth control clinic. By the 1950s, she had won several legal victories for the advancement of birth control and by 1960 had successfully sought the first Food and Drug Administration approval for oral contraceptives. Unfortunately, the war on contraception still isn’t over, and even though Sanger had some controversial views, we have her to thank for getting us started.

And these are a few of the other great answers to our polls:

Elizabeth Blackwell, doctor

Shirley Chisholm, first black woman elected to Congress

Midge Costanza, top assistant to President Jimmy Carter

Minnie D. Craig, first female speaker of a state House of Representatives (the North Dakota House)

Lena Horne, singer and actress

Ida Lewis, lighthouse keeper

Audre Lorde, poet

Margaret Mead, anthropologist

Jeannette Pickering Rankin, first woman elected to Congress

Merlin Stone, artist and author of When God Was a Woman

We’d also like to give a shout-out to all of our women heroes who have served in the military and to our mothers, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers, who helped us carve our individual paths.

Thanks for helping us look back to appreciate the women who paved the way for us. Now we’d like to look forward and hear your thoughts about who is making history now! Who among today’s women leaders will be the ones our great-great-grandchildren talk about during Women’s History Month?

 

This post was written by AAUW Marketing and Communications Intern Marie Lindberg.

Read Full Post »

For many Americans, women’s history begins and ends with the Susan B. Anthonys and Elizabeth Cady Stantons of the women’s suffrage movement. While these ladies are important historical figures worthy of recognition, there are countless others who have also shaped the world we know today, and we would like to explore their stories.

So dig deep and tell us who you’ve been influenced by, whether they’re names we’d recognize or not. Let us know what you come up with by taking our first Women’s History Month poll to help us identify the ladies who have inspired you the most.

Share your response with @AAUW on Twitter using the hashtag #wmnhist, or leave a comment here!

This post was written by AAUW Marketing and Communications Intern Marie Lindberg.

 

Read Full Post »

Who has been honored this month with esteemed women such as Linda Chavez-Thompson, Augusta Thomas, Elizabeth Shuler, Arlene Holt Baker, and Nancy Wohlforth? My mom!

I know it may sound a bit cliché, but for Women’s History Month, I would like to recognize my mother, Jane Broendel. As the first female officer for the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC), she has truly has broken through barriers.

My mom started carrying mail in Davenport, Iowa, in 1984 and joined the union her second day on the job. She became very involved and served as treasurer for the Iowa State Association, among other positions within the union, including, of course, union steward. When I was a freshman in high school, our family moved to the Washington, D.C., area so Mom could take up her new post as the first and — at that time — only female national officer in the union’s 100-plus-year history. She now serves as NALC’s secretary-treasurer. When my mom started working in D.C., she was the only woman on the 28-member executive council. Now there are four other women on the council as well.

It’s been a slow journey for women in the NALC, not to mention in the labor movement in general. When Mom first took on this challenge, she met grueling and disheartening sexism. Because she worked hard to prove herself and show that a woman is just as capable of leading as a man, those who once criticized her for taking one of the top jobs are becoming less vocal as time progresses.

In recognition of her accomplishments as a barrier-breaking woman in the labor movement — not to mention the inspiration she provided for working women in general — as part of Women’s History Month, the Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW) honored Mom with the Breaking the Glass Ceiling Award on March 18.

At the awards ceremony, the presenter mentioned my mom’s desire for all women to be able to speak without judgment, both at the bargaining table and in their lives outside of work. In her acceptance speech, Mom spoke about the challenges women face to be taken seriously and about how women have to work much harder to prove their worth as contributing team members — challenges she knows because she has lived them.

I’m very proud that CLUW honored my mom for Women’s History Month, and I think it’s amazing that she will be featured in CLUW’s Hall of Fame so that future women leaders will remember her. She’s a true leader who has paved the way for many women. For me, though, she’s more than a strong, confident role model and mentor — she’s my mom.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »