2021 and not many people outside of the staunch feminism world know what Women’s History Month is, let alone that it exists!
And while that is a shame, you’ve got to admit that the weight of its lack of popularity falls partly on our shoulders, it wasn’t enough to just create it, we ought to have spread more awareness about it, what it entails, how to honor it.
Women’s History Month,from the 1st to 31st of March is set to highlight the achievements and contribution of women to events in history and in turn,society.
The movement initially begun as “women’s history week” a week dedicated to acknowledging and accrediting significant women who made their marks in one way or the other,in Santa Rosa, California in 1978. Selecting the week that began on March 8th, so it would correspond with International Women’s Day, and as a result of globalization the phenomenon spread through other cultures, and different countries started setting aside a week meant to honor women.
So how did it progress from just a week to a whole month?
President Jimmy Carter of the US was in fact the first president to formally recognize, that is,after a group of women lobbied and we’re successful enough to get the president’s attention,who in turn,issued the first Presidential Proclamation that declared the Week of March 8th, 1980, as National Women’s History Week, more president’s followed in his footsteps and officially declared a week to honor women.
While the question seems to answer itself, it’s inevitable that some people may feel and voice their opinions that beg the question, why does Women’s History Month exist, as if we haven’t been receiving the short end of the stick for millennia, as if this alone is enough to rewrite history in such a way that equality is assured, as if this, in any way shape or form even slightly threatens the patriarchy that continues not only to survive,but to blossom and attempt to suffocate even the smallest opportunities that aim to level the playing field.
History,and anyone with an inkling of what it entails has always been made to look as though men did EVERYTHING, they fought the battles, they liberated the people’s, they discovered foreign lands,they valiantly spearheaded the inventions of vaccines….it has become so “man washed” that there’s hardly any mention of a single woman as anything more than a tertiary character,as if they didn’t even exist,as if they just sat back and left the heavy lifting to the men,and while this can be said for most because society back then and even now continues to dictate what women can and cannot do,needless to say there were those who refused to succumb to societal constructs,who were driven by the same curiosity and intellect that drove said men,and it is fundamental that we give credit where credit is due.
Such a case as Field Marshal Muthoni Wa Kirima a Kenyan who is a highly ranked freedom fighter who partook in the liberation movement MAU MAU that broke the country’s shackles of colonization,leading it to independence ,more women were part of the movement,yet she is the only one who albeit ever spoken about,is known,and achieved the rank of Field Marshall.
What of Tiera Guinn,the 21 year old aerospace major senior in MIT, who although she hasn’t yet graduated,credit to her intelligence and dedication, is already working with NASA to build a rocket that could be one of the most powerful to ever be built! It’s a shame that all of these remarkable women doing even more remarkable things continue to go unnoticed,and friends, THAT is why women’s History Month exists,this near painful ignorance is what it aims to eradicate.
It is important that young women and men in our schools learn that women didn’t just cook the meals,not to say that that isn’t a tremendous way to help,but it wasn’t just men that did the heavy lifting,for the sake of our young girls,to empower them,because at a young age all information makes an impact,and to show the boys that their female counterparts are just as capable as they are,if not more. This would reduce the contempt that later builds up to form the stain that is misogyny.
And even now, Women’s History Month is only “international” dejure, but de facto,it’s only minutely observed in the USA,the UK, Australia and Canada. What of Africa? What of Kenya?
Don’t we have outstanding women who made or did groundbreaking things to warrant mentions? Highly doubtful. Or does the sword of patriarchy,internalized patriarchy particularly, fuels the lack of need to push for the recognition of these women and many more who are making or yet to make their mark.
In the USA,president Jimmy Carter recognized WHM after endless lobbying by feminists,what’re our feminists doing to aid spread its popularity and get it officially recognized and celebrated? Maybe we need to be doing more,or change the tactics we’re using,some of the blame for the lack of success of WHM and especially in this country,we must admit ,falls on our shoulders.
The truth is, we cannot continue to just will change,we must make it happen,no one is denying that the journey to recognition is undoubtedly full of tribulations and more so in a country that believes women and girls have already been uplifted enough (as if such a ridiculous notion ever existed) ,at a time when feminism is possibly at its highest point of exaltation,most African states hold that it’s enough,that enough has been done to acknowledge and empower women,and an astounding number of people believe that through these actions,the playing field is now tilted to ensure the success of womenfolk…the horror!
That most youth,guided by fear that there may come a day when equity will be achieved,thus shaking a system that has always favored them, forgetting that feminism isn’t about shunning or failing men,but about making sure there exists no sort of prejudice towards one gender.
Now,each year there is a theme for WHM, like in 1987 the theme was : Generations of Courage,Compassion and Conviction and this year,since last year we didn’t get to properly observe or celebrate owing to the chaos inflicted by the pandemic,the theme is recurring, so in 2021 the theme is : Valiant Women of The Vote. The purpose of the existence of themes is to make it easier to recognize different women in different fields who evoked change in different ways,we can’t just lump them up together,there must exist an order that will optimize their celebration.
This year’s theme for example,: Valiant Women of the Vote, was meant to specifically celebrate and acknowledge the women that fought for women’s rights to vote,honoring women from the suffrage way back when to the more recent one in the 20th and even 21st century.
Women who,as the title of the theme suggests,valiantly fought against women being put through literacy tests before being allowed to vote,fought against poll taxes and voter roll purges in order to ensure voting rights for all,gender notwithstanding. By doing that,they were able to win the 19th Amendment in the USA constitution that prohibits the states and the federal government from denying the right to vote to citizens of the United States on the basis of sex, passed on May,in the year 1919.
Yet we cannot go without recognizing,especially during a theme such as this,countries in the Middle East,specifically the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,now the fact that it is a monarchy would render democracy and in its wake voting,moot,but rarely,municipal elections are held,like in 2005,for them it went without saying that men would vote for other men in office,no questions asked,even though the rest of the world had far moved from that blatant kind of patriarchy and misogyny,they conducted their business as they seemed fit.
Again in 2011 but this time they had an excuse,with officials claiming that if women were allowed to stand for positions there would not be enough women to staff female polling stations,this kind of sexual segregation being the norm in the kingdom,coupled with the fact that not many women had national IDs but things took a turn when King Abdullah,though a little late to the party,arrived nonetheless by allowing women not only to vote,but to stand for positions in the next election which would be in the year 2015.
For these reasons,it is important that awareness of Women’s History Month is spread,that it is honored worldwide and as common to the layman as Christmas. Because our voices matter,and how are we to encourage more voices to emerge when we do not honor and celebrate the ones that already have? That,friends,is why Women’s History Month should not continue to be disregarded.