BUT FIRST, A BIT OF HISTORY...
Women’s History Month stemmed from “Women’s History Week” which President Carter declared in December 1980 during the week of March 8. International Women’s Day (March 8) was chosen as the focal point of women around the world uniting for a common cause.
After national lobbying, Women’s History Week was included in curriculum and within a few years thousands of schools were celebrating. However, each year the dates of National Women’s History Week changed and every year a new lobbying effort was put forth. Led by the National Women’s History Project, (NWHP) a national effort ensued.
By 1989, 14 states had declared March Women’s History Month and by 1987 “this momentum and state-by-state action was used as rationale to lobby Congress to declare the entire month of March as Women’s History Month."
Each year NWHP honors women who “embody strength, tenacity and courage to overcome obstacles and achieve their goals.” This year’s theme, “Nevertheless She Persisted: Honoring Women Who Fight All Forms of Discrimination Against Women” was inspired by Elizabeth Warren’s “hush up” moment in Congress during the Jeff Sessions confirmation hearing for Attorney General.
HOW WE #PRESSEDFORPROGRESS
Our very own CEO Maria Chavez Wilcox explained “why we must press for progress for all women in our community” and that while organizations like YWCA and the unity of women has brought about change and broken down barriers, there is still work to be done. “It is our responsibility to press for progress and gender equity by undoing all forms of systemic oppression.”
YWCA USA CEO Alejandra Y. Castillo was guest speaker at a YWCA in Worcester, MA said she wants to “see YWCA reposition itself as a forward-looking organization with a rich history of standing up for those less fortunate and advancing women’s rights.”
YWCA Evanston had a screening of “I Am Jane Doe” a film about young girls being forced into sex trafficking through Backpage.com. The film was facilitated by Kaethe Morris, Executive Director of Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation.
THE WORLD IN ACTION
This year women worldwide showed up! Spain had its first "feminist strike." Where women protested gender inequality and sexual harassment and were supported by some men who provided child care so women could march.
Italy saw students protesting doctors' refusal to perform abortions even though the procedure is legal in Italy.
South Koreans marched in the wake of #MeToo wearing black and holding #MeToo signs. The movement has gained significant traction in the country since January when a female prosecutor began speaking openly about workplace mistreatment and sexual misconduct.
And in Pakistan women marched against honor killings, slave labor, and sexual exploitation of young girls while chanting "Women are here, harassers must fear!"
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
Women continue to break barriers and fight for equal pay and treatment. And while we close down our Girl Gang Appreciation Month, our work is far from done. Women continue to be sexually harassed both in and out of the workplace. On average women, especially women of color, are paid far less than men, and women all around the world continue to face gender discrimination. We must continue to #PressforProgress but doesn’t need to end after March 8th. You can #PressForProgress all year long. Join YWCA at our Luncheons to support our mission of empowering women and girls and promote stronger and sustainable communities.
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